Campers at Allendale Focus on Loving Others

I spent last week in one of my favorite places on earth, Camp Allendale in Trafalgar, Indiana. It’s beautiful and just oozes peace and joy. Two things I have been lacking up until last week.

We have not had an easy summer. We’ve had ups and downs. Moments of joy followed by really hard hits. But the break from reality, being in the woods with third and fourth graders soaking up sun and God really did me some good.

My youngest had his first overnight at camp during the week. He did really well. Better than I had hoped for which was so encouraging. He says his favorite thing about camp was the pool. The theme for the week at Allendale was to focus on others. We talked a lot about serving others and loving others. One of my favorite things said during the week by our Camp Director Tomi Lessaris was that “Love is not a feeling, love is a choice.”

In John 13:34 Jesus says, A new commandment I give to you that you love one another, just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.

And when your in the thick of it, when the kids are all whining and demanding, when your co-worker or your boss lay it down on you, when you and your friend have a disagreement on Facebook, we have to remember that loving each other, that’s a choice. It’s no longer a lovey-dovey feeling because at that moment loving the other person might be the hardest thing you can do. But as Tomi says, “Love is putting others needs above our own wants, Love is treating others the way they want to be treated, Love is caring to do something about it. My friend, author, worship leader and founder of Enlightened Relationships LeAnzer Stockley often will say “I am Love for u” as apposed to “I love you.” His reason is because he believes we can be love for others with our actions and are words. We can show people the true meaning of love by what we say and do not just by our feelings alone. Stockley says on his website, “Love not just as acceptance and support, but also as a divine identity. We believe every human possesses divine relational worth. We understand Love, relationships and oneness to be not only at the core essence of human nature, but also the means by which we thrive as a species and overcome the illusion of separation.” I think he’s on to something.

1 Corinthians 16:14 says “Do everything in love.” It’s a tall order but so necessary. It reminds us to put oneself last and other’s first. To make our choices in the most loving direction.

Made by one of my campers

One of my favorite activities at camp was when the girls and I decorated with chalk. There messages of Jesus’s love to others soared my heart. It told me that they got it. They understood that Jesus loves them. And in the glow of the campfire and flow of the lake it’s not hard to imagine. But in the wake of your parents divorce, the bulling at school, the hard times of life when you ask, why is this happening. It’s harder to feel Jesus’s love for you. But His love still there. His love is unchanging. Ours should be too.

To learn more about Mr. Stockley and his mission go to http://www.leanzarstockley.com. To hear more stories about my trips to Camp Allendale check out A Week of Camp, Focusing on the Good.

Embracing Gods Timing

I feel like sometimes I’m in a race. Today I had to drop my youngest at my parents house so that I could go to a doctor appointment. I also had to drop my oldest off at her work and pick up my middle one. Ready, Set, Go. Off I went to my parents to drop off my son then 5 minutes later back in the car to get my daughter to work by 2:30 then I had a half hour to make the doctors appointment. Appointment over, off again to pick up my son and middle daughter. Boy was I tired when I got home. I made it, by God’s grace, everywhere I was meant to go but not without stress and prayers, especially when we got stuck behind the tractor!

I learned a while back that I am not in control of time. God is. I hate being late and having kids makes you late sometimes. I would get so upset when we would arrive somewhere late. Until I realized it didn’t do any good. No matter how upset I was time still ticked on. So now I pray for God’s timing and peoples mercy.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a very familiar passage for most of us. But it speaks about God’s timing. It mentions 28 seasons of life that will happen to all of us and that they happen in God’s timing.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

We are all right now somewhere in these 8 verses. Sometimes your in more than one time at once. These verses make it very clear that God is soverign over the season you are in. It may be a good season or a bad season. It may be an uncomfortable season full of change. Which is another point these verses make that change is inevitable and absolute. Change can be a hard thing to process and can create anxiety and depression for an individual. But you can’t avoid it. Change will and does happen. Courtney Joseph says in her Bible Study Ecclesiastes Wisdom for Living Well, that “God uses change to shape us and to open our eyes to His presence. We are not alone. We need to embrace change.”

Matthew 6:27 is one of my life verses. Jesus says “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life span?”ESV

Anxiety, Worry, Depression does not change the outcome of our life. It can’t change the day. God has already determined that. Psalm 139″13-16 says that God made us fearfully and wonderfully and that “in Your book were all written The days that were appointed for me. When as yet there was not one of them (even taking shape) “-verse 16.

So if God has already determined our days we have no need for anxiety and worry. We can trust in God to care for us. In thinking about the seasons of Ecclesiastes I also think about the hard seasons we can be in and how those seasons of grief, loss, death, and weeping how heavy those seasons seem. I wanted to remind you that God calls us His sheep, not His pack mules. God puts us all through the same seasons, so that we will lean on Him and lean on each other. You are not meant to carry things alone. He’s got big strong shoulders and wants to carry the hard things with and for you. We are called to care for eachother and in that we are told to carry each other’s burdens.

Galatians 6:2 “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ ( that is, the law of Christian love.)

If you want to read more about change you can go to my blog post The Aftermath of Change in your Life from a few weeks ago. My life is definitely in a season of change. I no longer want to run the race against time but instead trust in God’s timing. If you are in a hard or heavy season and would like prayer please comment before. I would love to pray for you.

Why Read the Bible

Bible Journaling is another way to read the Bible. Here is my first Bible Journal page.

When I first became a Christian in fourth grade the leaders of my youth group, Mike and Pam Bandy, would provide us with a sheet of paper after every meeting. On the paper was a verse for us to read every day of the week. If we would read the verse of the day three times a day for a whole month Mike and Pam would present you with a hard covered Bible with your name beautifully calligraphied on the inside. Made it 6 months you got a concordance to go with the Bible. This was a prized possession as we did a number of sword drills and looking up scriptures during the meetings. Make it a year you got the entire Chronicles of Narnia to read. Two years you got a leather Bible. I collected those quiet time papers on a weekly basis and worked my way through all the awards. I even had a quiet time partner at one point. A good friend still today that we would call each other daily and read together. By the time I started college Reading the Bible daily was engrained into my nightly routine.

But that’s when it stopped for a while. My roommate would get upset when she saw me reading the Bible, so I started going to the commons room to read. I would often time get interrupted there or teased. I finally gave into peer pressure and didn’t go back to reading the Bible till after I was married and going thru a hard time at work. The YouVersion Bible app wasn’t a thing yet, we still had flip phones and it was hard to read again without a plan. I would read through books of the new testament. My mother-in-law gave me a new Bible around that time as well. I was no longer reading the Bible to collect a prize or do well in a youth group. I was searching for answers, looking for hope and soon found I could not make it through a day without it.

Mark E Moore says in his book Core 52 in chapter 50 that “Reading and applying the Bible are the most important skills for spiritual growth. Research has shown that those who engage the Bible four times a week or more have stronger marriages, healthier habits, and better self esteem.”

If you struggle with fear and anxiety as I do knowing and reading the Bible can be key in helping you fight back against fearful, anxious and depressive thoughts. For example It says in 365 verses in the bible DO NOT BE AFRAID. And most of the these verses are followed by exactly why you don’t need to be afraid.

2 Kings 6:16 Elisha answered, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid and anxious little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the the kingdom”

Ezekiel 3:9″ I have made your forehead like emery (diamond) harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them though they are a rebellious house.”

and one of my favorites:

Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afriad of them, (or their hostile faces) For I am with you (always) to protect you and deliver you, says the Lord”

Jesus often told his disciples Do not be afraid when he approached them. Angels often started their sentances with Do not be afraid. It is obvious that God reconizes that fear is something we struggle with and he wants us to know with him there is no need for fear.

Reading these verses daily help you to imprint them on your heart and when anxious thoughts you have come you can tell yourself that God is in control, he has equipped and provided for you and you have nothing to fear.

The word of God has the ability to transform you and change you. The more you read and study the more it transforms your thoughts which change your actions. Moore gives a good outline of the steps you should take when preparing to study the Bible.

  1. Choose a quiet place and a consistent time to read. I tend to read in the late morning after my kids have gone off to school. As a child I read before bedtime. I like mornings better because it straightens out my day. I take my time. But if your life is busy and you just have 5 minutes. God can use that too.

2. Read it. Moore perfers a physical Bible but I perfer the Youversion App. I like that I can change and compare scripture in different versions. I like that it’s easy to look up a specific verse or topic. And I like the plans Youversion offeres. You can do a short plan or read the whole Bible in a year and the plans are structured already for you.

3. Have a pen or a way to highlight what sticks out to you while your reading. Have a place to take notes. Either in the Bible or a notebook. Youversion has a place for note taking in the app as well.

Ask yourself while your reading, what stood out to you and how you can apply it to how you live today.

Prayer is also a vital part of studying the Bible. Ask God to help you focus and understand his word. The Bible is one of the primary ways He speaks to us. The Holy Spirit can equip you in understanding what you are reading and help you apply it to your life.

Moore says that “God has promised blessings and success to those who dillegently seek him in his word.”

Joshua 1:8 ” Keep this book of the Law always on your lips, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and sucessful.”

God will bless and provide wisdom for you if you spend time with Him and his word daily. I’m excited to see you grow in God’s word. Do you have a way you and God spend time daily? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Getting started reading the Bible? YouVersion and the Abide App are great places to start learning how to mediate on God’s word. You can read more about the Abide App in my blog here. Biggest Tool in my tool box…Abide App.

Run Your Race on Fertile Ground

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I have some news for you my friend, God did not promise us an easy life. So if your looking for an easy life this is not the path for you. He promised us abundant, eternal, life but not an easy one.

I like to watch Todd White and he recently posted a video in which he challenges his church to pray in the spirit every day. He said praying in the spirit strengthens your spirit and gives you what you need to get through the day. He related it to charging your spiritual battery. So I thought well why not and I have been praying in the spirit almost every day for about a week. Oh has my life gotten messy! Its like chaotic messy. Everything I try to accomplish has blockades in the way. Why? Well I think its a sign I’m on to something. Many times when you start something that God want you to do or accomplish because it will help you grow well life gets hard. It’s like the parable of the seeds in Matthew 13.

” Listen carefully a sower went out to sow (seed in his field) and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road (between the fields). and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and at once they sprang up because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and thorns came up and choked them out. Other seeds fell on good soil and yielded grain, some a hundred times as much as as was sown.” Matthew 13:1-8

Jesus explains in Matthew 13:20 that the seed that was sown on rocky ground “is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy, yet has no substantial root in himself but the its only temporary” He then says when pressure or persecution come because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away.”

Jesus knew that persecution and pressure would come once you received the word of God. So if you’ve committed to reading your Bible everyday and you keep falling asleep when you try, well that’s pressure and persecution. (I read with my coffee.) If you commit to spending time with God every morning in prayer and your mornings get busy, or you forget, or you can’t find a quiet place in your house, that’s pressure and persecution. – I pray alone in my car better than anywhere else.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 22 ” And the one whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness (the superficial pleasures and delight) of riches choke the word and it yields no fruit.”

The worries and distractions of the world are always there. If you struggle with anxiety like I do those worries are real. They attack you. They steal your joy and they can keep you from growing in God.

But. There is hope. The seed grows in the fertile ground verse 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it, he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times (as much as was sown.) some sixty (times as much, ) and some thirty.”

So how do we keep ourselves like fertile ground? We have to do a few things. We have to be rooted in God. Which means you know who you are in Christ. I’ve written about knowing who you are in Christ and you can find that here: Who I am In Christ. You have to be in the word of God. You have to forgive others that have hurt you. Holding onto hurts makes us hard and bitter and God can’t grow a seed in hard ground. God wants you soft like potting soil. If you have trouble forgiving you can ask God to help you forgive. I can’t tell you how many times he’s had to help me.

If you are rooted in God and your soil is fertile you will have the determination to hold onto God’s truth whether it be a word from Him or a want for a deeper relationship with Him that you are trying to work toward.

In Hebrews 12:1-2 it says, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I was a swimmer in high school. During the season we grew our leg hair out, wore two suits, and sometimes even practiced with panty hose on. The week of sectionals we shaved, donned “paper” swimsuits and greased up our bodies with baby oil and Bengay before each competitive lap. The boys shaved their heads so they wouldn’t have to wear caps and shaved thier bodies as well. Why? We wanted to make our bodies as light and slippery as possible to slide through the water fast. All of this preparation worked as we’d see seconds sliced off our times.

I’m not a runner but because of swimming I understand what the author of Hebrews is saying. We have to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely.” My weights are fear and worry. I can’t run my race and hold on to them. What are your weights. Are your weights the same?

See if we can let go of these weights and make our ground fertile just like a seed we can shoot up into the purpose God made us for. We won’t be hindered and weighed down. We can be joyful because we know the end of our race. We can endure what is not easy. Because He didn’t promise us an easy life. He promised us a marathon of ups and downs of joy and sadness but He also promised us an abundant, eternal life.

The mess I’m in right now will pass and I will still be praying in the spirit. Living an abundant life means knowing God has your back. He will give you what you need, he hears your prayers and he wants you to run your race gloriously.

Last Times Bring Something New

I’ve been dealing with a lot of last times lately. Last times are hard. My middle daughter just finished performing in the school version of the musical Les Miserables. Sunday night was her last time performing. All the kids had lots of tears through out the show and at the end. They had performed it a total of 12 times. I help with costumes and as many of the leads turned in their pieces I would hear them say, “My last time,” sadly. It was my last time too, hearing their beautiful voices singing, “Do you hear the people sing?”- and having chills every time. Les Miserables is my favorite Broadway play and God allowing my daughter to perform in it was a gift. I too was sad it was over. But thankful that God allowed me to to be a part of it.

Loss of anything is hard. When you know a last time is coming, like the last time you said goodbye to a loved one on this earth. It is really hard. I think its even harder when you don’t know it’s coming when that last time was missed like the last time you changed a diaper or fed a bottle or saw a friend.

Joyce Meyers says in her Everyday Bible on the subject of Ruth that ” Loss does not mean everything in your life is over, just that one part of it has ended. One season has passed and another can now begin, if you are willing to believe that you can now go forward.”

Going forward, putting one foot in front of the other is essentially what Ruth did when her mother-in-law Naomi decided to go to her home in Bethlehem. She told Ruth and her sister -in-law Orpah to go back to their homes in the country of Moab and she would return to her home in Bethlehem. But Ruth clung to Naomi and said, “where you go, I will go, where you lodge, I will lodge, your people will be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16 AMP)”

And you know what, Ruth was blessed with a new story. She was given a new husband and a child in the lineage of Christ. All because she choose to move forward and not abandon her mother-in-law.

Meyers states, “God promises to be with you in trouble. While you are waiting for him to deliver you, you can be comforted knowing he is with you and working on your behalf.” (pg410)

Even in loss and pain God is working on your behalf for good. He promises to redeem you, just as he did Ruth. He says in Joel 2:25 ” And I will compensate you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God who has dealt wondrously with you, and my people shall neve be put to shame.”

In our losses we will never be put to shame. I believe God redeems us also for the losses we endure. Be thankful for the gifts in the midsts of your losses is helpful in moving forward. But realizing in every end there is a new beginning will help you continue.

Staying Positive When You Have A Setback

Last week I wrote about coping with change in your life. And of course immediately after I experienced some change. Friday my middle daughter fell ill with a sinus infection keeping her from attending play practice. Friday evening my oldest daughter fell off her skate board and fractured her elbow and then Monday my youngest son woke up with an ear infection. Total chaos ensued. All activities were canceled and I found myself needed by all three kids at that same time. My hearts broke for them as I administered medicine and the occasional hug. Thankfully my to sick ones are on the mend with antibiotics and feel much better. However my oldest is majorly bummed. She cannot ride horses till she’s healed and it will be along 6 weeks without them.

So we have on our hands a set back. Set backs are not fun or comfortable or easy. They happen to everybody and sometimes you just wonder “God why am I going through this?” I tried to remind my oldest this is not her first setback. When she was 8 or 9 years old she sprained her ankle and couldn’t dance for 6 weeks. She was so frustrated I thought dance was over. But she opted to take summer classes and by the fall she was right back on track doing fouette’s around the room.

So I reminded her that this is just a set back. In six weeks she can be back on a horse and in her element. We talked about focusing on school and her drawing until she feels better. We tried to look at the bright side.

Jesus knew set backs too. Herod killed his cousin John the Baptist. That was a set back. A huge one. Jesus’s friend, cousin and main evangelist for Him was gone. Jesus needed to grieve his loss but instead he taught and fed 5000 people (Luke 9:9-17) Jesus was told by the disciples to withdraw and rest but instead because he had compassion over the crowds he stayed and taught and performed a miracle to feed them.

That tells me that inside the set back God is still working and still has purpose for you. God has a plan for my daughter in these six weeks of rest. He’s going to still work in her and through her until she can go back to that stable.

The same is true for you. Whatever setback you are facing is just that it’s a set back not a benching. You can still be used through it. As long as theirs breath in your lungs God has a plan and a purpose for you.

The Aftermath of Change in your Life

This picture was taken while I was pregnant with my youngest. We held the shoes to show we were waiting and anticipating his arrival. Both girls had worn those sneakers as babies. Being pregnant with my son was a hard change. I was 37 and we weren’t planning on having any more children. I was also on medicine that should have prevented me from having any more children. Needless to say God had other plans and we had my son. I can remember many moments of my life when everything changed. Have you had moments like that in your life? Being married for me was probably the first but beside my back injury finding out I was pregnant with our third child definitely fits. These moments always mark and end of something, for me having a son was an end to only having daughters. It was an end to a family of four. It was bottles and diapers all over again when we had just rid the house of those things.

In her book Determined, Heather M. Dixon talks about what happens after something ends is change accompanied by chaos. I think that change, confusion and chaos can cause anxiety and depression for many of us. When we don’t recognize that this change is part of God’s plan or even if we do recognize it and don’t like it. We can struggle with anger, anxiety and depression. When I was first learning how to drive after my back injury and could only go about 15 minutes at a time I was heartbroken wishing things would go back to the way they were. I felt that this change was unjust, undeserving and wrong. I wanted to be healed completely. I wanted to go back in time and make different decisions.

But God did not supply me with a suped-up Delorean nor has he healed me completely yet. But he has blessed me beyond measure and provided for me in every way. Even in my son things from formula to clothes to shoes were supplied and still are. When God creates a change in your life he has a plan and purpose for it. He will provide for it and he will grow you in it.

Jesus had moments when change occurred and nothing was the same again. Hopefully for many people once you decide to be baptized things are not the same again. I know for me it was the beginning of a new life with Jesus. It was not the same for Jesus anymore either. Luke Chapter 3 gives the account of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. it says in Luke 3:21 that Jesus was also baptized and “While he was praying, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, My Beloved, in You I am well-pleased and delighted.”

That was a moment where change occurred. Those present heard a God himself proclaim that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. This also marked the beginning of Jesus’s ministry. He was no longer a carpenter. Off into the the wildness he went for 40 days, re-emerging as the rabbi and savior of the world.

It is comforting to know that Jesus went through change and the chaos of it too. It’s hard when your in the middle to see the goodness of it. It’s easy to react to the chaos around you with fear, anger, and frustration. But know that this is not a surprise to God and He already planned for your victory in it a long time ago.

It’s also not uncommon after a change to sit in the wilderness of life for a while. For me that is a time of searching for answers. It’s a time of growing your faith in God so that when you are tempted to be depressed or anxious you can answer it with the assurance of who you are in Christ. Sometimes that was the whole point of the change. For things to shift to a place where you can grow and depend on God.

So when change occurs in your life, and it will, your actually being given an opportunity to grow. The kind of growth God wants in us can be painful but it’s necessary to keep moving forward through the chaos to the other side, instead of staying in it.

Everybody has Stress, Give it to God

Easter is over and my children have returned to school and what I saw in their eyes last night and this morning was stress. Anxiety for a new day of school. The transition from a school break back to school isn’t easy on any of them. My oldest who is very much a perfectionist had a panic moment this morning when she realized her laptop had not been charging during break. My middle struggled over outfits to wear last night and my youngest clung to me as I woke him up this morning. And I totally get all of it. As a long-time sufferer of the results of stress I totally understood how each of them felt.

I never had anyone show me how to deal with the stress in my life until I went to counseling as an adult. For my kids I tried to make myself available to talk to. I tried to help where I could. I told them I loved them and everything would be ok. But unfortunately the battle with stress is always in the mind. You need to find healthy ways to reduce and deal with the stressful situations in life or it can dramatically affect your health. It has mine.

Before my back injury I had a number of surgeries and I was always getting sick. I had my appendix and my gallbladder removed as well as a number of d and c’s for endometriosis. I had migraines-aweful horrible migraines that despite the medicine I took would send me to the ER at least once or twice a year. My stomach always hurt. I popped Advil daily for the migraines. I had panic attacks and outbursts. And now I believe most if not all of it was because of the stressful life I lead.

I was always busy, I’d pile too many things on my plate then collapse under the strain. When something didn’t go as planned it was my fault, not the universes and my expectations of everyone, including myself were way too high. It’s no wonder my body was breaking down underneath me. I didn’t give it a chance to breathe.

So what’s different now. Having the back injury taught me the importance of rest. It showed me that not everything I took on needed to be taken on by me. I learned to make plans but not to put all my expectations in them. Life happens, things change and its ok to go with the flow. I learned to let go of disappointment and that “I can do all things through Christ,” does not mean I can do all things through Kelly or that I should do all things. I pray a lot now about what I’m meant to do and what someone else is meant to do so that I’m only doing what I’m supposed to.

I’ve started exercising again and that greatly reduces my stress. Writing reduces my stress. The techniques I’ve learned in therapy to breathe and slow down has reduced my stress. I’m still struggling. I eat when I’m stressed and I am currently trying to overcome that obstacle. I’m struggling but I’m leaps and bound from where I was. Migraines hardly happen. My stomach is better than its been in years. I avoided another endometriosis surgery with prayer and a better diet and medicine.

But ultimately for me learning to pray and go to Jesus when stress happens has helped me the most. Reminding myself daily that He is in control and has a good plan for me has helped me calm down and face whatever I’m struggling with. He is on your side and He wants to help you navigate through your day. The bad parts and the good parts. Paul said he had learned to be content in any situation. (Philippians 4:12) For me the key word is he learned. It’s a learning process to live in a stressful situation and be content. I’m not there yet but I pray someday I will be.

I hope this helps someone see that God is a relational God. If you want the transformation in your life that was talked about Easter Sunday, yesterday, you need to have a real relationship with Jesus. This morning I prayed for my kids. I brought there day to God. I am hopeful for the day when they do that themselves. I invite you today whatever is causing you stress in your life. Bring it to God and watch it change for the better.

Living with a Chronic Illness

Many of us who have endured a chronic illness will suffer from depression. Being unable to do what we think we ought to be doing is frustrating and in some ways devastating. When I injured my back in 2017 I spent what felt like the entire summer in bed, much of it unable to walk without crutches. My right leg was weak and numb from the knee down. My back was healing from my S-5 disc rupturing and surgery so Sitting up with out good support was very painful. In that time I could barely get dressed, couldn’t drive. There were a million things I thought I needed to do but I couldn’t get up to do them. It was depressing and hard when I tried to do something and couldn’t succeed.

I have also suffered from migraines since my 20’s. Migraines is one of the many chronic illnesses where you can be fine on day and flat on your back the next. It makes it difficult to plan, to make commitments and function in a normal way. Fibromyalgia, multiple sycosis and many other illnesses work the same way. Not being able to live a normal life can result in depression and trying to plan can result in anxiety as you don’t know what will happen next.

Having a chronic illness, in my opinion, is very humbling. I have learned to rely on my faith for guidance, prayers for strength and mercy for the things I just cannot do. Setting my expectations a little lower is something my therapist told me a long time ago. It’s hard not to expect so much of myself but when migraines or bad back and leg days creep in I need to be kind to myself, not beat myself up over all I can’t do.

Accepting help from others is also vital although a very hard thing to do. But it’s necessary. There is nothing wrong with your spouse helping you whether its to the bathroom or doing the laundry. It’s hard to let them, I get it, but you have to let go of that guilt and let them help you. If someone offers, take them up on it. God blesses those who serve in obedience. God will bless the person helping you for helping you.

There is also a difficulty of understanding a chronic illness for those who don’t have a chronic illness. It’s not a cop out or a thing to complain about, its a real illness and it comes with lots of baggage. Having empathy and helping without complaining is the best thing you can do for someone you love with chronic illness.

In dealing with depression and anxiety with a chronic illness my suggestion is to be kind to yourself and let go of your expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a long time to heal and to learn to manage how to live with a chronic illness. I am thankful God is healing me everyday. I pray the same for those of you who struggle with this.

Talk It Out

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I have a unique gift. I can be in the grocery store in line with a complete stranger, say hi to them and in a few moments have them tell me their life story. I don’t know if its because I look approachable or God has given me a gift of listening but it happens a lot. My husband often jokes that is why I am late to things, too busy chatting. But it made me think about why people do that. Why would someone spill their guts to a complete stranger? I think its because we all need someone to talk to and we very humanly say whatever it is on our hearts.

If you suffer from anxiety or depression its important to talk about it with someone. Talking with someone is the first step towards healing. Therapists are there to talk to. They listen, they give encouragement, they give you strategic tools to combat anxious or depressed situations. But if your not ready for the “leap of therapy” having a friend or a family member or a spouse that will just sit and listen is helpful. Oftentimes when we discuss what is causing our anxiety or depression saying it out loud can lift the burden of it. It can help us rationalize it. Talking about it can help take the weight of it off our shoulders.

It is also helpful to talk with someone who has been through something similar to what you are currently going through. With my back injury I also have nerve damage to my right foot. I have a good friend who I met during my recovery who has nerve damage to her left foot from an accident. Sharing stories, seeing her walk normally, hearing that someone else had been in the same place I was was so comforting and encouraging. Many of us suffer from anxiety and depression. Finding someone who understands what it feels like can help you not feel so alone.

If you don’t have anyone to talk to and feel like you need help call 1-800-273-TALK, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are skilled to help calm you down and get you on the right track to find help to start your healing process.

Healing from anxiety and depression is a process. Those things that cause your anxiety and depression will not just simply go away. If you want to be able to cope with these feelings you need tools to do so and help from others. There are many tools you will need in you toolbox to combat anxiety and depression. But a person you can confide in will help you tremendously.