Thursday, September 29, 2016

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

Mendeltna Community Chapel in Alaska
Photo by Ellie Kiser

I was 24 when it happened for the first time. I sat beside my husband in our church that met in a little log building in rural Alaska. The congregation stood to sing, but I remained seated. It was awkward to be the only one sitting, especially when I looked so healthy. My body appeared strong, but inside it was weak.

My health had been slowly deteriorating for several years, and my disability was invisible. Many in the church probably didn’t even know that I had an invisible illness. They could not see that each week it was becoming harder for me to attend church. No one could see that standing made my blood pressure drop too low. No one could see my heart racing to keep my blood circulating so that I didn’t faint. No one could see the energy draining from my muscles. But I could feel it, and I knew that if I wanted to make it through a whole church service, I could no longer stand while singing hymns.

inside the little log church
Photo by Ellie Kiser

My church was very kind and accepting of my new limitations. They allowed me to remain seated without shame, and they brought meals to show their love and care. We have moved many times since then, but I will always be grateful for our little church in Alaska.

My family lives in Minnesota now, and I am grateful to have another loving and accepting church. My invisible illness has grown worse over the years, but my church accepts me just as I am. They even keep a recliner at the church for my personal use! I can no longer sit up through an entire church service, so lying down in a recliner enables me to attend a service occasionally.

There are many members in our churches who are fighting invisible illnesses, and although we cannot see it, their struggle may be profound. Their illnesses may be disabling even if they appear to be able-bodied.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

This week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week, an annual online awareness event sponsored by Rest Ministries. According to Rest Ministries, nearly 1 in 2 Americans live with some kind of chronic condition, and the majority of their symptoms are invisible. An individual may be dealing with pain, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, weakness, cognitive difficulties, or any number of other debilitating symptoms.

People with invisible illnesses need our support and encouragement. They face challenges each day that no one can see and that many do not understand. They may feel lonely, discouraged, or misunderstood. They may be struggling to keep up with simple tasks of daily living. They may be facing a disability while those around them are unaware.

If you have an invisible illness, it can be embarrassing to let others know about your struggle. But sometimes we need help and encouragement from others, and if we do not share with them what we are going through, they cannot offer their support. Let’s humble ourselves enough to let our churches know that we are living with an invisible illness.

When we learn that someone has an invisible illness, let’s be ready to offer them our encouragement and support. Let’s be understanding when they need to sit, leave church early, or cancel plans at the last minute. Let us accept them, limitations and all, and welcome them in our churches.

If you have an invisible illness, what is one of your most disabling symptoms?

What are some ways we can offer support and encouragement to those who are suffering from an invisible illness?

{This article was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.}

Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Minute Friday Book

Each week bloggers gather together for Five Minute Friday. We write for just 5 minutes on the same writing prompt, and then we link up our posts over at Kate's blog. We write for the fun of writing, and the rules are: no editing, no overthinking, and no worrying about perfect grammar and punctuation. And most importantly: encourage the writer who linked up before you! It is meant to be a time of writing for the joy of writing and a time for encouraging other writers.

Five Minute Friday Book

This year the Five Minute Friday group has published a book, and it releases today! We were all given the option of turning in our favorite Five Minute Friday post to be included in the book. The book was compiled by Susan Shipe, and the foreword was written by Lisa-Jo Baker, the creator and original host of Five Minute Friday.

All of the proceeds from the Five Minute Friday book will be given to The Vine School and the Ten Dollar Tribe.

Some of the authors in the Five Minute Friday book are: Lisa-Jo Baker, Kate Motaung, Susan Shipe, Kristin Smith, Stacey Patrick, Katie M. Reid, Sara Frankl, and more than 100 others! My blog post, Learn, is in this book. It thrills me to have my words in a book with so many of my blogging friends!

You can learn more about the Five Minute Friday book here. Or you can buy your copy here on Amazon!

If you are a blogger and are looking for some blogging ideas and inspiration, I invite you to join us this week for Five Minute Friday. We link up over at Kate's blog. The writing prompt and link-up are posted at 10:00 pm on Thursday, Eastern Time, and it stays open for one week. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Serving the Church when You Are Homebound

looking out a window

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are homebound are a vital part of the Body of Christ. If you are a church member who is homebound, it may be easy to feel as if you aren’t a part of the body, but God’s Word says that every believer is a vital part of the body of Christ. Even the weaker members are indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22). You have an important role to play in the body of Christ! Your service is needed and is valuable.

But, how can you step out and serve when it is difficult or impossible to leave your home? Let’s talk about a few ways you might be able to serve those in your church.

1) Live a life of faithfulness in the midst of suffering. A godly testimony in the midst of suffering is a precious ministry. Those in your church who see your faithfulness, or hear of your godly example, will be encouraged in their own walk with the Lord. Their faith will be strengthened on account of you.

2) Share your testimony. If your church has a time for sharing testimonies, perhaps you could write a few sentences for a friend to read at church in your place. Your words could encourage and help those in your church even if you are not able to speak to them in person.

3) Send cards in the mail. If there is someone else in the church who is disabled or homebound, you could send them a card to encourage them in a way that is very personal because you have faced similar struggles. You can also send cards to encourage those in the church who are sick, going through a difficult time, or grieving the loss of a loved one.

4) Prayer is a very important ministry. Through prayer you have the privilege of bringing requests before the throne of grace and interceding for others. God chooses to work through the prayers of His children, and “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 b, NIV). Prayer is an awesome opportunity to minister to those in your church!

Even if you are confined to your home, you are an indispensable part of the Body of Christ. There are important ways you can serve your local church, and your service is precious in the sight of God.

How have you been blessed by the service of a homebound member of the church? If you are a homebound member, how do you serve your local church?

{This post was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.}

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Serving the Homebound in the Church

Giving a bouquet of flowers

It is easy to accidentally overlook the homebound in our churches because we do not see them often, if at all. These members may be elderly, undergoing cancer treatment, living with a severe chronic illness, or facing another type of disability. Although these brothers and sisters in Christ cannot attend church services regularly, they are an indispensable part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:22).

Those who are homebound need spiritual care from their church, and some of them may need physical help as well. How can a church serve and include their homebound members? Consider these practical ways to reach out to them.

1) Visit them in their homes. Those who are homebound need fellowship with the body of Christ. A short visit can be very encouraging to one who is often alone. Taking time to read Scripture and pray with them will minister to their souls. In some cases an in-person visit may not be possible, but a phone call, gift, or letter will communicate love and care.

2) Help with transportation. Some members may be able to attend church if someone can provide transportation. Others may be able to attend if someone is willing to arrive late or take them home early. Many of the homebound members may never be able to attend a service, but may need assistance with transportation to medical appointments.

3) Provide physical assistance at their home. If the homebound member is living in their own home, they may need help with cleaning, yard work, or shopping. It could be helpful to ask if this type of assistance is needed, and then organize help if it is.

4) Live-stream the church service online. Church members who are homebound often miss the preaching of the Word and corporate worship through singing. Listening to the church service from home will help feed their souls. If a live-stream is not possible, providing recordings of the services would be beneficial.

5) Send a card in the mail. A card is a lovely gift for someone who often misses out on fellowship due to being confined to their home. Cards from individual members are special, and a basket of cards from the whole congregation would be an especially delightful gift!

Those who are homebound in our churches are precious in the sight of God. Although we may not see them often, they are vital members of the body of Christ. Let us look for ways to serve them and include them in the life of the church even when they are confined to their homes.

How have you been blessed by serving a homebound member of the church? If you are a homebound member, how has your local church served you?

{This post was originally published on The Irresistible Church blog.}

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Have Survived Summer!

fall flowers and trees

I have survived summer! When September came, I breathed out a big sigh of relief. In the middle of July it felt like summer was never going to end, but the end finally came! The night before the children went back to school I felt such relief and a sense of accomplishment. By God's grace, I had made it through another summer. The children are back in school now, the house is quiet, cool weather is here, and I am ready to get back to blogging.

Thank you so much, friends, for your patience and understanding this summer as I needed to step back from blogging for a time. And thank you for the messages you have sent to me through email, Facebook, and Instagram. I appreciate all of you so much! I am grateful to have such kind readers and friends.

Lundy family

Summer was long and hard, but it was fun and enjoyable too! Summer went much better this year than it did last year. In fact, I was even able to continue improving from my crash in the summer of 2015! I am not doing as well as I was in April 2015, but I am doing better than I was in June of 2016, and for that I am very grateful. I am hoping that I will be able to continue to regain some strength and energy this fall.

We planned for a lot more help and rest for me throughout the summer this time, and it made a big difference. A huge THANK YOU to all of our friends and family who helped out! I would not have been able to continue to regain strength and energy this year without their significant help.

Another thing that really helped this summer was weekly IV fluids and daily Oral Rehydration Salts. Those are two options that I didn't have last summer, and I think being able to stay well hydrated made a difference.

William and Adelaide

William and Adelaide are back in school now. William is in 5th grade, and Adelaide is in 1st grade! They are growing so quickly! I miss them while they are at school during the day, but the extra rest and quiet is good for me, and the school is good for them.

Now that summer is over, I am hoping to start blogging again once or twice a week. If you would like, you may subscribe here so that you never miss a post.

How was your summer? I'd love to hear from you! Let's catch up!
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