Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eight Reasons I Am Thankful for Dysautonomia

God has given me a life that is much different than I dreamed it would be, but also better than I could have ever planned or imagined. I trust that life with dysautonomia is His good plan for my life. I do not understand all of God’s purposes in allowing me to be a disabled and homebound wife and mother. God’s ways are not my ways. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. But even in my limited understanding, I can see ways that dysautonomia is beneficial for me. I am thankful for the many blessings that have come because I have dysautonomia.

Here are 8 reasons I am thankful for dysautonomia:

Dysautonomia reminds me each day that I need the Lord. Every day I wake up to a sick, weak, and miserable feeling in my body. I am keenly aware that I cannot control my health or my strength. I cannot make my body function properly. It is truly the Lord who sustains life, gives health, and gives weakness. I have learned to see the pain and weakness in my body as a grace and a mercy. It is a daily reminder of my need for, and my dependence upon, the Lord.

I have made many friends online whom I never would have met if I did not have dysautonomia. Through places like DINET, blogs, and Facebook groups, I have met so many people with dysautonomia, chronic illnesses, and other disabilities. These friendships are a treasure to me! I have learned a lot from my friends who live with various illnesses and disabilities. They have encouraged me through their examples, inspired me with their courage, and blessed me with their friendship.

Dysautonomia brought me to the point of starting a blog. I probably would not be blogging if I were not ill and homebound. Blogging has been a wonderful creative outlet and connection to the outside world. If I did not have dysautonomia I probably never would have started blogging. I would have been too busy to sit down behind a computer for hours each week. Dysautonomia has caused me to slow down and take time to write.

Through living with dysautonomia I am learning to persevere. Although trials are not pleasant, they are beneficial. They are so beneficial that we are to count it all joy when we face trials (James1:2-4). For this reason, I am grateful for dysautonomia. It gives me opportunity each day to persevere in hardship. Each day I push my body to keep going and not give up. I seek to be content and enjoy my life. I spend time with the Lord when my mind and my body are tired. I give of myself to my husband and my children. I am learning to persevere, and it is growing me to maturity. What a blessing!

My children learn compassion through having a disabled mother. Because of my needs, William and Adelaide had to learn from a very young age to be gentle and quiet. They learned to look out not just for their own comfort, but for mine as well. They have learned to serve me when I need help. These lessons in compassion and servanthood will be beneficial to them for the rest of their lives.

Dysautonomia provides challenges that cause our marriage to be strengthened when we persevere in love and faithfulness. Marriage affected by a disability is hard. But when Will and I determine to persevere in the challenges, to love and serve each other, and to cling to the Lord through it all, our marriage is strengthened. Dysautonomia makes marriage hard, but it brings us closer together, and that leads to much happiness in marriage!

Living with dysautonomia reminds me to keep an eternal perspective. My body is tired and weak. My health has been steadily declining for 16 years. My hope is not in good health in this life. My hope is in the life to come. My hope is in the One who paid the price for my sin, taking the punishment that I deserve, so that one day I can be free of this body of death and live forever on the New Earth. As I struggle to persevere in this weak and tired body, I am reminded that this body is not the only body I will ever have. This life is not my only chance at happiness. The best is yet to come!

I am gaining reward in Heaven when I suffer faithfully. This is such a reason to be happy in life with dysautonomia! I cling to these verses daily: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

It always astounds me that suffering is incredibly beneficial to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ! A faithful response to suffering will result in a greater reward than we would receive if we did not suffer at all. And the reward awaiting us in Heaven is far out of proportion any suffering we could ever endure on earth. Suffering will one day be worth it all. Because there is reward for living faithfully in the midst of affliction, I am very grateful for dysautonomia!

I would love to hear from you! What hard things do you face in life? What reasons have you found to be thankful for suffering?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Amani ya Juu

Tote bag from Amani ya Juu hanging on my wheelchair

Whenever I leave the house, I have a special bag that goes with me. I call it my "Africa Bag." It is sturdy and beautiful, and it hangs on the back of my wheelchair. I like the way it dresses up my wheelchair, but it is also very practical because it keeps me from having to hold my purse, water bottle, and more in my lap. This bag is special because it was made by women at Amani ya Juu.

Amani ya Juu

Amani ya Juu means "Peace from Above." This organization serves marginalized women in Africa by providing them with jobs and Bible teaching. Many of the women who work through Amani ya Juu are refugees from various countries. They learn to work in peace with women from other cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and they are taught that they can have peace with God.

Amani ya Juu began in 1996 after Becky Chinchen, an American missionary in Liberia, had to flee the country with her family because of civil war. Becky became one of many refugees in Kenya, and this opened her eyes to the plight of refugee women. She and three other refugee women in Nairobi, Kenya began making crafts to sell, and they founded Amani ya Juu.

The women who work for Amani ya Juu are paid a livable wage, and their beautiful products are sold in the Amani store. Through the work of Amani ya Juu, these women find dignity, hope, and peace.

I would like to share these two videos that show the work of Amani ya Juu. (If you are reading this in an email, you will need to click over to see the vieos.)
"Meet Lucy. Lucy lives in Africa. When war broke out, she lost her home, her belongings, and worst of all - members of her family. Now Lucy is a refugee without a country, friends, or an income..."

"With all there is to experience in and around Nairobi, there is one place I wanted to see as much as any other while we were here. I'd heard of a place called 'Amani ya Juu' and the amazing things happening there, so I decided to stop in, and check it out..."

Amani ya Juu tote bags

I first heard about Amani ya Juu several years ago from my Mom. She had a beautiful purse from Amani, and I loved the vibrant African fabrics. I needed a bag to hang on the back of my wheelchair, and I knew I wanted one from Amani. My first Amani purchase was the vibrant tote bag you see on the left in the picture above. The width of the bag was the same width as my wheelchair, so it was a perfect fit. I sewed loops on the side of the bag using black grosgrain ribbon. The loops slide over the push handles of my wheelchair.

A few years later I needed a new Africa bag for my new wheelchair, and I purchased the tote bag you see on the right in the picture above. This time I sewed on larger loops to fit the push handles on my new wheelchair. Both of these bags are sturdy and have held up well over the years. Neither of these exact bags are available in the Amani store currently, but there are many similar styles available.

The Amani product line has expanded quite a bit over the years. In addition to bags, they also offer clothing, baby items, kitchen items, stationery, and more! If you like to shop fair trade, or if you are looking for a unique gift to give at Christmas, the Amani store is definitely worth checking out.

Amani ya Juu recently sent this Folded African Shopping Tote to me as a gift. Isn't it a beautiful shopping bag? The fabric is thin and lightweight, but very sturdy. And the bag folds into its own little pouch! This would be a great bag to bring in a suitcase when travelling. It doesn't take up much space, but it unfolds into a surprisingly large and sturdy bag if you need it.

Amani ya Juu sent a second shopping tote for me to give away to one of you! Are you interested in learning more about Amani ya Juu? Amani is working on growing their list of email subscribers so that they can reach more members, sell more products, and help more women. If you would like to join the Amani mailing list, simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

If you are already on the Amani mailing list, but would still like to enter the giveaway, simply enter using your email address that is subscribed to their mailing list. We don't want to leave loyal members out of the giveaway!

Thanks for letting me tell you about Amani ya Juu today! The giveaway will close on November 27. The winner will be notified by email on November 28.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Do You Have What it Takes to Hope?

This summer my husband preached a sermon about hope based on 1 Peter 1:13. I was not able to attend church to hear him preach, but I listened to his sermon at home. It encouraged me, and I asked Will if I could share it with all of you. He said that I could. Below you will find a link to an mp3 of his sermon, plus my sermon notes. May this encourage you today to have hope and to persevere!

3 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:3-13
We are commanded to HOPE! Do not under any circumstances give in to despair. Hope. We are a people who are to be characterized by hope.

What is hope? 
  • Hope is an internal conviction that circumstances in the future will be more favorable than circumstances in the present. 
  • The object of a person’s trust or hope. It is that to which you look for refuge.
Jesus is a shelter in the time of storm. Your refuge, the place you seek shelter, is your hope.

How are we going to have the right kind of hope? How do we know what it takes to genuinely have hope?

1. Our hope needs the right occasion.

2. Our hope needs the right object.
  • Our hope lies outside of us, and we are waiting for it to come.
  • The grace that is coming to you when Jesus comes back is glory. Praise, glory, and honor is coming to you (v. 7).
  • We suffer now so that we can later receive glory.
  • The purpose of your current suffering is glory.
  • 1 Peter 4:12-14 - Rejoice in suffering so that you also may be glad and rejoice when His glory is revealed.
  • 1 Peter 5:1 - We are going to be partakers of the glory.
  • 1 Peter 5:10 - We are called to His glory.
  • Romans 8:17 - We are fellow heirs. We suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
  • Romans 8:29-30 - "...And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
  • 2 Corinthians 4:17 - "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."
  • Reward is coming! 
  • Are you concerned about your comfort? Or are you concerned about your glory?
  • If you are genuinely concerned about your glory, you will endure suffering with joy for the sake of Jesus Christ, and you will set your hope on this grace. This will be your hope, and you will cease to care even a wit about the accolades or the insults of men.

3. Our hope needs the right mindset.
  • What does it take to have the kind of unbreakable hope that is commanded here?
  • Our mindset has to be right, and it takes work. Despair is the default. We have to have a mindset that fights against that.
  • What does it mean to "gird up the loins of your mind"? This is how you gird up your loins (link to the image Will shared during his sermon). 
  • Remove every encumbrance. Remove every idol. Remove every false hope.
  • Be sober-minded. Be disciplined over your thoughts. Think true thoughts. Have intellectual discipline.

Will you give in to despair and abandon Christ? Or will you steadfastly hope and set your hope in this grace that is coming to you?

Do you have what it takes to hope?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Operation Christmas Child 2015

In 2012 our family packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for the first time. It has since become an annual tradition that we enjoy doing together. We typically pack a shoebox for a girl Adelaide's age and a shoebox for a boy William's age. 

There are three main items to include in each shoebox gift: toys, school supplies, and toiletry items. We usually try to add a clothing item too.

Earlier this year I read that almost every boy wants a soccer ball, so we made sure to include a soccer ball in the boy's box. William helped me to deflate it, and we put a hand pump into the box so that the boy can reinflate it.

I like to buy rulers for the shoeboxes, but it is always very hard to pack them since they have to be placed diagonally in the box. This year I found flexible rulers! They were much easier to pack!

Packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful way to reach out to needy children around the world. Most importantly, it provides an avenue for the Gospel to be shared. When Samaritan’s Purse distributes the shoeboxes, they share the Gospel with all of the children, and they provide the opportunity for children to sign up for a discipleship program. 

The shoebox is the first gift many children have ever received. The gifts and letters inside have a huge impact on many of these children. And some of these children first come to Christ because of the love that was demonstrated to them through the shoebox gift and the Gospel presentation.

On Monday my daughter, Adelaide, joined me on Periscope to share about Operation Christmas Child. Here is the replay if you'd like to watch! If you are reading this in an email, you will need to click over to my blog to see the video.

If you would like to participate in Operation Christmas Child, there is still time! National collection week is November 16-23. You can also build a box online for only $25. This is a great option for those who aren't able to go out shopping due to a chronic illness or disability.

Do you participate in Operation Christmas Child? What is your favorite item to put in a shoebox gift?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Busy Hands: Crochet Walker Bag

Last week I shared the craft projects I entered into the county fair in August. One of the items was this crocheted walker bag.

Several times over the past few years I have looked for a crochet walker bag pattern, but I have never found one that I liked. Instead of using a traditional walker bag pattern, I decided to combine two purse patterns that I liked, and then I added straps so the purse could hang on a walker. I used the houndstooth stitch from this Houndstooth Tote, and I used the basic design of this Simple Crochet Handbag. I like how the finished product turned out!

Edited to add: If you would like to see how I made the straps for the walker bag, you can check out the comment thread on this facebook post. I have uploaded several pictures to show the straps and buttons inside of the walker bag.

Meet my travel walker, Henry. I'm naming my assistive devices now because that makes things more fun. :)

Henry is a new walker that I purchased in preparation for our big trip in April. Usually when we travel I don't bring a walker, but for a trip that long and tiring I knew it would not be wise for me to go without one. Henry folds compactly, making it much easier to fit in our van along with all of our suitcases, my wheelchair, and my other medical supplies.

Henry did not come with a basket, so having a walker bag on our trip was very helpful. It allowed me to easily carry my phone and a few small medical supplies.

Meet my inside walker, Cordell. (Bonus points to you if you can figure out why he is named Cordell!) Cordell helps me walk around my home on a daily basis. Cordell doesn't fold compactly for travelling, which is why he stays in the house.

My walker bag was originally made to use with Henry, but I like the bag so much that I use it with Cordell too.

Do you have a favorite walker bag pattern? If so, I'd love to see it!

What have you been doing lately to keep your hands busy?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...