Thursday, August 13, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Learn

"You have dealt well with your servant,
    O Lord, according to your word.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
    for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
    teach me your statutes.
The insolent smear me with lies,
    but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
    but I delight in your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
    that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
    than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

God’s Word is valuable. In fact, it is so valuable that the psalmist said, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (verse 71). It was through affliction that he learned to keep God’s Word (verse 67).

Hardship and affliction is probably not the path of learning that any of us would choose on our own. I know I wouldn’t! I would like to have a fun and easy life and be able to learn without facing hardship. But affliction comes through God’s sovereign plan and purpose. God uses it for our good and His glory. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

We are quick to accept things from the Lord that we perceive to be good. We are happy to receive good health, a raise at work, a new car, a nice house, and a loving family. But “shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

Sometimes God’s blessings come through raindrops. Sometimes good things come through suffering and tears and hardship. If we allow God to teach us, we will learn and grow because of suffering.

I encourage you to not waste whatever suffering you are going through today. Learn from it! Search God’s Word for hope and help. Use your time of affliction to learn God’s Word and grow in your relationship with Him.

Each week a blogging community gathers at Kate's blog to share their five minute blog posts. We all write using the same writing prompt. This week our word is "learn." You are invited to join in in the fun here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My New Favorite Seat in the House

In July Will and my sister, Krista, rearranged furniture in our house so that I could have one of my recliners next to the big sliding glass doors in our office. This allows me to recline and watch William and Adelaide play outside. Previously I had to stand at a window to see the children playing in the backyard. I could never watch for more than a couple of minutes because my blood pools in my legs when I'm standing. Now that I can lie down in a recliner and see out the window, I can watch them play for an hour (on a good day).

I had to let Will and Krista take one of my bookshelves and half of my books down to the basement to make room for a recliner in the office, but the sacrifice was worth it. I love lying in my recliner and watching the children play outside. This is such a treat for me! 

In the fall, when the children are in school during the day, I am hoping that this recliner will be a place where I can work on scrapbooking as energy permits. And maybe I'll even get to watch the children play in the snow in the winter! There is much to look forward to with my new seat by the backyard windows. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Surviving Summer

This is a challenging summer for my family and me. My body is weak and tired, and I am struggling to take care of William and Adelaide while Will is at work. I stay in bed most of the weekend so that I can partially recover for the next week. My body is unable to completely recover in only two days, so each week is harder than the one before. I’m borrowing spoons from the fall to make it through the summer.

William and Adelaide haven’t complained about it at all, but the summer is wearing on them. They miss me being able to do things with them, and it is hard on them to see me so tired and weak. They also miss having our family of four together at one time. I have to go to bed almost as soon as Will gets home from work each day, and because I have to spend the majority of the weekend in bed, we have precious little time as a family. This a hard summer for all of us, so we pray for strength, and we press on.

A couple of months ago I was planning on writing a blog post with tips for surviving summer as a mom with a chronic illness, but instead I find myself with very few tips. I can do so little that most days it feels like I’m barely holding on, so my tips are quite simple: Pray. Read your Bible. Rest. Be with your children when you can. Watch Movies. Teach your children to help out. Accept help from others. That is pretty much my formula for making it through this summer!

Talk to the Lord every day, and ask Him to help you through your day. I start praying as soon as I wake up. My body feels so weak and tired that it overwhelms me every morning. I pray for grace and strength to make it through the day.

Read the Bible.
No matter how tired you are, don’t neglect God’s Word! Even if you can only read one verse, read it. Think about it. Ask God to teach you and encourage you through His Word. If you are able, read the Bible with your children also. I read my Bible each day. On some days I am able to do a 15 minute Bible study while lying down in bed. On other days I can only read a few verses, but I do what my energy levels allow. When I am doing well enough, I also like to have a devotion time with the children. William and Adelaide have really enjoyed reading through Matthew and this devotion book with me.

Take time to rest each day. If your children don’t need naps, they can read or play quietly while you rest. I am not always able to get the rest I need every day, but I rest as much as I can. William and Adelaide play quietly in the house and watch movies when I have a particularly bad day and need to stay in bed all day long.

Be with your children.
Do what you can to be with your children in the summer. If you are a mom with a chronic illness, that may look a lot different for you than it does for your healthy friends, and that’s okay. You don’t have to take them to the park or the pool or on amazing summer trips. Just be with them. Read books, color, watch movies, or play board games. When you need a lot of rest, don’t feel guilty about watching movies with them. Which brings me to my next summer tip…

Watch movies.
This could go under the categories of rest or being with your children, but movies are so helpful that I am putting them in a category of their own. There have been many days this summer that the only thing I was physically capable of doing with my children was watching movies, so we gathered on the sofa and did just that. I wish we could have memories of going on walks and playing at the pool, but that is not an option. So we make fun memories with movie days!

Teach your children to help.
You can teach your children age appropriate chores so that they can help you in your home. William and Adelaide have been so helpful this summer. They help to clean up the living room and their bedrooms. They have learned to start the dishwasher. They pick vegetables from our garden. Adelaide likes to bring snacks to me. William fills up my water bottle when I can’t do it myself. William has also been vacuuming the house this summer.

Accept help from others.
If you have the option of accepting help, don’t be too proud to accept it. If a friend offers to help, and you need it, take it! We have had some full-time, in-home help this summer from family and a friend who have visited, and we are so grateful for that! I also have a local friend who has helped me out by taking care of William and Adelaide on some mornings so that I can get extra rest. 

That is how I am surviving summer. What about you? I know there are many other chronic illness moms who are struggling this summer too. Maybe you are one of them. What tips and advice do you have to share with us? Let’s learn from each other, and let’s encourage one another!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Just Show Up

Kara Tippets battled cancer for two and a half years. During that time, many friends came around the Tippetts family to support and serve them. Kara is now home in Heaven, but before passing from this life to the next, she and her friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, wrote a book about walking with a friend through suffering. Kara and Jill loved and served each other well, and their friendship is an example to follow. Their book, Just Show Up, will be a helpful resource to others who are going through a season of suffering with a friend.

It can be difficult to know how to be there for a friend who is suffering. In Just Show Up, Kara and Jill share practical ideas of ways to be there for, and serve, a family in need. They allow the reader a peek into the community that surrounded the Tippetts family during the past three years. They are open about the hard parts and the awkward parts. They share about the tension, the struggles, the insecurities, and the highs and lows. They share honestly about the fact that mistakes were made and that grace was needed.

Just Show Up has a conversational tone, making you feel like you are right there chatting with Kara and Jill as they share about facing hard times of suffering together. They speak to the one who is walking through suffering with a friend as well as to the one who is suffering herself. I especially appreciated the personal stories that were shared from the community of support that surrounded the Tippetts family. It was a beautiful thing to see how the body of Christ can come alongside a suffering member and love them well in their hard season.

Just Show Up is for the one with a friend who is suffering and in need of help and support. It is for the one who wants to be there for a friend in need, but doesn’t know what to do. It is for the one who is chronically ill and is needing guidance regarding her role in friendship when her abilities are limited. This would be a great book for two friends, one who is ill and one who is healthy, to read together as they navigate the awkwardness that comes when friendship is lopsided because one friend simply can’t give much. It would also be a great book for a group of friends to read together as they prepare to show up for a friend in need. I highly recommend this book!

I received an advance copy of Just Show Up from David C. Cook via NetGalley. The book will be available in bookstores on October 1, 2015.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Clinging to Hope

Clinging to Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7   
Last week was filled with challenging days for me. I struggled to take care of William and Adelaide while Will was at work. My energy levels barely carried me through the day until 5:00 when Will came home. I spent the weekend in bed, like I have most weekends this summer, simply recovering from five days with my children in my home.

The fatigue was intense, and I had to fight to cling to hope. Will patiently, and lovingly, and consistently reminded me of the hope I have. He helped me to see the bigger picture. He helped me to keep an eternal perspective in the midst of the very hard now. He reminded me of my living hope, of my inheritance waiting in Heaven. He encouraged me with the words from 1 Peter, showing me that the testing and trials now are serving a good purpose: my future glory.

What an amazing thought! The trials that I face now will result in praise and glory and honor. I am so undeserving, but because of the amazing grace of God, I have an inheritance waiting in Heaven. If I am faithful in the hard here and now, I will, in the future, receive praise and glory and honor. I am clinging to that hope.

To read more Five Minute Friday posts, or to join in the blogging fun, head over to Kate's blog.
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