Friday, May 27, 2016

I Am N

“I am n?” What does that mean? 
When militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) moved into northern Iraq, they began identifying Christian-owned property. Families would find the Arabic letter ن (nun, noon), or n, painted on their homes and churches. This single letter conveyed the powerful accusation that the occupants were “Nazarenes,” people who followed Jesus of Nazareth rather than Islam. 
To be labeled “n” in a community dominated by Muslim extremists is to undergo an immediate identity and life change. With this mark comes the ultimatum: If you convert to Islam or pay the tax, you can keep your material possessions and remain in this community. If not, leave or you will die. 
Any person who takes a stand for Jesus in occupied Iraq, any person who chooses to be “n,” pays a high cost. 
- The Voice of the Martyrs, I Am N

On the days when I have to spend my time confined to bed, I often think about, and pray for, the persecuted church. It is easy to feel lonely and sorry for myself, but when I think about my brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith around the world, my hard days are put into perspective. I may be alone, but I am in a comfortable bed and a cozy house. I may be tired, but I have food and water. I have access to Scripture. I have a husband and children who take care of me.

Praying for the persecuted church helps me to focus on others instead of on myself, and it gives me something productive to do even when I am exhausted.

Because the persecuted church is often on my mind and heart, I was grateful for the opportunity to read I Am N: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists. This book was released by The Voice of the Martyrs earlier this year, and it tells of real events that took place between the years of 2001 and 2015. Some details like names and specific locations have been changed in order to protect the people whose stories are being shared, but the book gives real accounts of modern day persecution.

It took me three months to read I Am N because of the heavy nature of the content. I never read more than three stories at one time, and I often only read one story before taking a break for a few days. It was a hard book to read, but also a very good book to read. This book helped me to better understand the hardships faced by persecuted Christians, and it provided me with the opportunity to pray for specific Christians in specific ways.

I thank the Lord for the faithful testimony of these believers who are standing firm in the faith, despite insults, loss of family, loss of property, physical harm, and risk of death. Their faithfulness encourages me to persevere in my faith and in the life to which God has called me.

I received a complimentary copy of I Am N from the publisher through Net Galley. All opinions are my own.

I Am N - The Story

If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
1 Peter 5:8-11

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Persevering and Choosing Joy on the Hard Days

The past few weeks have been filled with a lot of hard days. A "good day" is when I am able to be out of bed for four or five hours, but even on the good days, I often struggle to move. My body feels like it is on its last drop of energy, and everything I do is a physical challenge. Sometimes I wonder how my muscles are even moving because they are so tired it feels like it shouldn't be possible.

My body is tired, and my mind is tired, but I want to persevere. I want to keep on keeping on when life is hard. I want to choose joy not just on the good days, but on the bad days too. Here are some things I have intentionally been doing lately as I seek to persevere and choose joy:

Reading through Job and Psalms. I am working on reading through the Bible this year, and it "just so happens" that I recently finished the book of Job and am now reading in Psalms. It has been perfect timing, and the words of Scripture have encouraged and strengthened my heart.

Praying daily. I often ask God to help me be "joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

Listening to music that encourages me to persevere. I have a playlist with some of my favorite songs that I like to listen to while resting in bed.

Putting on lotion that smells good. I have recently been wearing Peppermint Spice body butter on my hands. It smells like Christmas and the outdoors and happiness all rolled into one. And it was made by my friend, Dorina. I can't help but smile when I wear this!

Enjoying Dandelions. Wildflowers from my daughter are a sweet reminder to find love and beauty where there are weeds.

Sitting by the fire pit. This is homebound camping at its finest! I really miss camping, but being able to sit by a fire in my backyard was such a treat. It wore me out so much that after 2 hours I had to go inside and take a nap! But the picnic, fire, and time with my family was delightful.

Appreciating the extra time to crochet. After finishing my scarf, I made fingerless gloves with the leftover yarn. Now I am working on a baby sweater, bonnet, and booties to enter at the county fair this summer. If I wasn't struggling with brain fog I would have been spending a lot of my recent time writing instead. The brain fog has been a blessing because it has forced me to spend more time crocheting, which is something I love to do.

How about you? What are you struggling with currently? And how are you choosing joy and persevering? Let's share our ideas and encourage one another today!

Keep on keeping on, sweet friend! Or, as my friend Elizabeth often tells me, "KOKO!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Busy Hands: Bristleberry Scarf

I have had a lot of sleepy, tired, and brain fogged days lately. It seems that I enjoyed my higher energy levels too much, and after a couple of weeks my body said, "That's it. You're done. It's time to rest." 

I took an unintentional blogging break because I was too sleepy and brain fogged to think and communicate clearly. In the past few weeks I have said a lot of backwards things to my family, friends, and to the lady at the Verizon store! I decided that I should not attempt to write a blog post until the fog cleared! After letting my brain and body rest for a while, I am trying to get back to blogging and gentle activity around the house.

Despite the sleepiness and brain fog, I did have had the energy to work on some crocheting, which was such a blessing. The inability to write gave me the time to finish up this project I started last fall.

I used the Bristleberry Scarf pattern found in the Crochet One-Skein Wonders book. I used most of a skein of this yarn that was a gift from a sweet friend. It is a soft and beautiful yarn.

Yesterday it was cool enough for me to wear my scarf! I probably won't have another chance to wear it this spring, but I can't wait to pull this scarf out again in the fall.

What have you been doing lately to keep your hands busy? Are you working on any projects?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: Hope Heals

Jay and Katherine Wolfe

Jay and I have been blessed to suffer greatly at such a young age because it informs the way we live the rest of our lives. We have learned that when everything else is gone, hope remains. - Katherine Wolf

Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming LoveI recently read Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf. In this book they tell the story of their marriage, Katherine's stroke as a young wife and mom, and the years of rehab that followed. It is a story of love, suffering, commitment, and hope.

Jay and Katherine were a young married couple living in California and pursuing their dreams. Jay was weeks away from graduating from law school, Katherine was a model with a promising career, and they had a 6 month old baby. But life as they knew it changed dramatically when Katherine suffered a massive brain stem stroke, which left her in a coma for 2 months. After waking up from the coma she had to spend nearly 2 years in intensive rehab to regain strength back and to re-learn how to talk, eat, and walk.

Jay and Katherine struggled through very hard years, but their commitment to one another and to the Lord remained strong. Katherine confesses that there were times when she felt like God had made a mistake and that she should have died. But in those dark moments, she knew and trusted that “He sees the entire picture, and HE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. He knows this is part of the story He is writing for me, for my family, and for all of the creation He is making right. It is not a plan B, and I trust that.”

Katherine acknowledges that she can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. Her experienced caused her “to redefine healing and discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls.”

There aren’t many books about marriage and disability, so I was thrilled to learn about Hope Heals. I was encouraged and challenged by Jay and Katherine’s testimony in these pages. Hope Heals will be beneficial to anyone who is looking for hope, and it will be especially encouraging for those who are affected by disability in marriage.

If you are interested in learning more about Hope Heals, you will enjoy watching this book trailer. (If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.)

"This is our truest healing, the healing of our souls, and it sustains us when we wake up tomorrow to an unknown but hopeful new day."

Hope Heals will be available April 26th. Learn more at

I received a copy of Hope Heals from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Easy

It is time for Five Minute Friday! We write for just five minutes, no over-thinking, backtracking, or careful editing. Kate gives us a word, and we write for the joy of writing. Today the word is “easy.”

Being a mom isn’t easy. It takes hard work, dedication, patience, perseverance, love, and everything you have to give. It is hard! And when you add a chronic illness into the mix, it becomes even harder.

There are days when being a mom with a chronic illness is overwhelming because there is so much to do, and there is so much of it that you simply cannot do. The energy that is required during the “little years” pushes you to your limits and beyond. But in time it gets easier.

In time the children grow. They get bigger and stronger. They become more helpful and more skilled in doing chores. We have been doing chores with our children since they were toddlers, but their help during that time was minimal compared to what they can do now. They have become more helpful with each passing year.

Now at the ages of 10 and 6, our children can work alongside us and offer significant help! Last weekend William helped Will move furniture in the house. A few weeks ago I taught Adelaide to clean the bathroom counter, mirror, and toilet. Two weeks ago I taught the children to clean our kitchen floor. The work is the quality you would expect from children, but it is work, and is help. Their contribution to our home is helpful.

Dear chronic illness mamas of little ones, it gets easier. The little years don’t last forever. Hang on! It won’t ever be easy, but it will get easier.

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