Wednesday, January 22, 2020

When Hope Is Scarce

I am pleased to welcome Bethany Rose to Cranberry Tea Time today. Bethany is a fellow Minnesotan, blogger, and spoonie. She has a lovely letter today for those of you who also live with chronic illnesses. In case you aren't familiar with the term "spoonie," those who are in the chronic illness community often refer to each other as "spoonies." It is a name that comes from Christine Miserandino's helpful story called, "The Spoon Theory."

Bethany will be speaking at the Diamonds 2020 conference this weekend. If you have a chronic illness, you will want to check this out! It is online, and it is free! Details can be found at the end of the post.



Dear spoonie,

Does your pain overwhelm you? Do the days seem endless? Do you wonder if you will ever find a way out? Is hope scarce?

Hope.

What a strange word, especially for those of us who wonder if the pain will ever ease.

A sweet girl told me the other day that during the worst days of her illness friends and acquaintances would frequently tell her, “I’m so sorry-I hope you feel better soon.”

The problem with telling us to “feel better soon” is that we both know it’s insincere. It often feels as if those who say this that don’t really care whether we feel better soon or not. That hurts. And as chronic illness warriors, we become finely attuned to the meaning behind common phrases like these.

With chronic illness, healing isn’t certain, and it probably won’t happen in the near future. It feels so empty when we hear, “I hope you feel better soon.”

Hope.

It’s so easy to lose hope when your day-to-day existence is filled with pain or exhaustion.

And it’s not just healing that we lose hope in. It’s also easy to lose hope in the goodness of God, and start to believe that life is just a series of tragedies.

Dear one, what can you do when you lose hope?

Throughout my illness, I have lost hope many times. And I have learned something which transformed the way I think about hopelessness.

When we are in a dark place, the solution is not to notice the darkness, to calculate how many more hours we must exist until dawn sprinkles sunshine on our faces again. Instead, when we are surrounded by darkness, we look up. For the night sky is peppered with stars.

I remember a dear friend messaging me, asking me, “When will this feeling end?”

I told her, “It will take time, but you will come out.

Take it one breath at a time.

Pause, and look at the night sky. It is vast, and it is wild, and it is not joyful. It has seen a thousand wrongs in the same moment as it saw a thousand rights. Look out your window. That ancient sky? Somewhere behind it is a Maker who will one day rip the sky apart to come and right every wrong.

You’re not alone.”

No matter what your illness is, God has not abandoned you. He will one day right the wrongs of this broken world. And if you simply look around, look up, into the sky, you will find small reminders of His enduring love.

Yet you wonder-how can I? My symptoms prevent me. Yes friend, sometimes our symptoms make finding reminders of God’s love harder. But that which is harder won is the more precious.

Perhaps you are a spoonie with light sensitivity. You can’t watch the sunrise, but you can close your eyes and go out into a garden or park. Inhale the scents. It’s winter now where I live in Minnesota, cold, frozen, lonely. You may think that winter doesn’t have a scent, but your nose will change your mind. Breathe deeply. What do you smell?

The first thing I notice in the winter air is the crispness. Then I smell underneath it the everlasting scent of the earth, quiet and strong, despite being stuck in winter’s icy clasp. I smell the earth, and I remember that God will bring spring again.

Dear spoonie, if we only hope for healing, we miss all the beauty God has given to us to relieve the bitter cold of winter. Yet if we choose to look up, we can find the little blessings which make a hard season of life bearable.

For we do not only hope for the relieving of our pain. Our primary source of hope is God.

“We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.”
Psalm 33:20-22

He will not disappoint us. He may not take away our pain, but He will help us to bear it. And when we begin to doubt that He really is here with us, if we only look around, we will see a thousand evidences that His love for us is still as strong as it was the day Jesus bore both our sins and our sorrows on the Cross.

And though our pain seems to last forever, soon, it will pass away.

So dear spoonie, when we begin to lose hope let us look to God. Let us be in awe of Him. Let us find the little blessings He gives us each day. But most of all, let us cling fast to the knowledge that He is guarding us. He is keeping us. He is with us!

Dear spoonie, when hope is scarce, look up.

“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.” 1 Peter 1:3-6



Bethany’s name means “bright city on a hill.” This is her mission in life, to illuminate the beautiful things and shine God’s light where there was darkness. Bethany leads The Wilting Rose Project, a ministry of encouragement and truth for young women who feel their struggles make them worthless. She writes fairytales heavily inspired by her love of the forest, where she spends many of her mornings soaking in the uniquely Minnesotan beauty. Her blog includes more personal documentation of her battle the last few years with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold illness and her journey of healing.





What is Diamonds 2020? Diamonds 2020 is a free online conference for chronically ill Christians.

When is Diamonds 2020? January 23rd-25th, 2020

Who is speaking at Diamonds 2020? 16 awesome chronically ill warriors.

What does Diamonds 2020 cost? Nothing!

Where is Diamonds 2020? You can register for free at this link.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas!


 Merry Christmas! The True Light has come into the world. Let us celebrate His birth!

2 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 
Isaiah 9:2-7



 Noel featuring Lauren Daigle

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Mercy House Global Fundraiser

A Baby Changed Everything

One of my favorite ministries is Mercy House Global. They rescue pregnant teenage moms in Kenya from desperate circumstances. These girls once lived in the slums and streets of Kenya, and they became pregnant as a result of rape or because of forced prostitution. Some families are so desperate that the mothers ask their daughters to trade sex for food. It's a tragic and heartbreaking reality.

Mercy House comes alongside these young mothers and provides them with a safe home, an education, medical care, job skills training, and much more. Through this ministry, they break the cycle of poverty. Most importantly, they share the gospel and provide regular Bible teaching and discipleship. The lives of these teenage mothers and their babies is being changed for the better. And for those who come to know Jesus, their lives are changed for eternity.

If you have been reading here for a while, you have heard me talk about Mercy House several times before. I love the work they are doing, and it has always been a joy to help them in whatever ways I am able. Recently I had the opportunity to join Mercy House as a volunteer Ambassador. It is an honor to advocate for these precious girls and their babies. I hope that someday I will be able to travel to Kenya to meet these girls and see the maternity home there. I don't know how I will physically do it, but it's a dream of mine nonetheless!



I want to write more about Mercy House Global in the coming months, but for now I have a need to share with you. Mercy House is $50,000 short of their fundraising goals for the year. If you are looking for a ministry to give a donation to this holiday season, will you please consider Mercy House?

I am partnering with Mercy House this month to help them raise these much-needed funds. Will you join me? Let's help them rescue more young mothers and babies in 2020! Let's serve these girls in Jesus' name.


Friday, October 4, 2019

Busy Hands: R2-D2 Hat


My latest crochet project is this R2-D2 hat for Stafford. I worked on this during the spring and summer this year. I found the pattern several years ago, and I was excited to finally make it.



It is such a cute hat! And I love the little ear flaps. They will be perfect for keeping Stafford's ears warm in the chilly Minnesota winter. 



I think the hat is adorable. Stafford isn't too sure about it, however! He pulls the hat off pretty quickly. Hopefully he will want to keep it on once winter arrives.

I found this pattern for free online. I wish I could link to it, but the blog is no longer available, unfortunately. If I find the pattern online again sometime, I will come back and update this post.

Crocheting was hard for me during the first half of this year, so I didn't get much done. I would often try to crochet, but would have to stop to rest my arms every minute or two. In the past two months I have been able to crochet for longer stretches of time again, which has been great! Now I need to search through my patterns and yarn stash and find something fun to create next!

What fun things have you been creating lately? What is your next project?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Review: Suffering Is Never for Nothing


I was delighted to learn this year that a new book by Elisabeth Elliot has been published!  Many of you are familiar with Elisabeth Elliot already, and you probably know that she passed away a few years ago. She faced suffering in many different forms throughout her life. She spent challenging years in a remote jungle as a missionary, both when she was single and when she was married. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was speared to death, and she was left alone with a young daughter to raise. Her second husband died of cancer. In her later years she suffered from Alzheimer’s. Through it all, she remained faithful to God, trusted in Him, and worked faithfully to simply do the next thing.

Elisabeth Elliot’s new book is titled, Suffering Is Never for Nothing, and it is based on a speaking series she gave many years ago. The words in the book are taken directly from the transcript of her speaking series, and very little editing was necessary. It was delightful to read this book and to “hear” Elisabeth Elliot’s voice again. She shares, as she always did, in her straightforward, no-nonsense way.

This is an encouraging book for the believer who is trying to make sense of the very hard suffering in life, and it is also beneficial for the believer who is looking for help as they face everyday challenges. If you are searching for hope in your suffering today, I pray that Elisabeth Elliot’s words will be an encouragement to you.




Suffering Is Never for Nothing
(If you are reading this in an email, you may click over to the blog to see the video clip.)
I cannot say to you, I know exactly what you’re going through. But I can say that I know the One who knows. And I’ve come to see that it’s through the deepest suffering that God has taught me the deepest lessons. And if we’ll trust Him for it, we can come through to the unshakable assurance that He’s in charge. He has a loving purpose. And He can transform something terrible into something wonderful. Suffering is never for nothing. - Elisabeth Elliot

You can watch all of the videos from Elisabeth Elliot's teaching series, originally titled Suffering Is Not for Nothing, for free here on the Ligonier website.

If you prefer reading over a video series, I recommend picking up a copy of the new book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing, found at Amazon and Christian Book. This is a short book, with only six chapters, but it is a gem of a book! You will be challenged and encouraged in your faith!

Disclaimer: I was given an advanced reader e-copy through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this blog post are my own.
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