My three and a half year old granddaughter Ruthie came to me one day recently requesting I do a painting for her.
“Nana, I want a flower picture that you painted for me” Ruthie said this with her big eyes gazing earnestly at me.
“What kind of flower do you want me to paint?” asked.
She shrugged her little shoulders and responded “I don’t know. Just flowers.” Between this exchange and the fact I had painted lilies for her sister Lilias a few month earlier I readily agreed.
Pansies are my favorite flowers. They look like expressive faces in flower form and come in so many colors. I immediately decided pansies would be perfect. Pansies while beautiful and delicate are so bold and resilient and reminded me of Ruthie. As a little one she was tiny and frail looking and needed oxygen and feeding tube but in the last year she has been thriving without either.
I began drawing and painting pansies and below is the final result of pansies for Ruthie.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Every December I begin praying and seeking God for the word to be my focus for the coming year. “Flourish” was my word I began this New Year as my focus for 2020 with Jeremiah 17:7-8 as my theme verse.
I never dreamed how much this would be needed as my focus when 2020 began. Pandemic, unrest, riots and political battle more heated and intense than have seen before in my life, as well as so much fighting and offense everywhere you look. This year looked like anything but a flourishing environment. 2020 feels more like a desert with searing hot winds blowing. Life has been disrupted in numerous fronts,, many jobs and businesses lost, loss of physical contact with the pandemic limitations and so much social and political upheaval.
My goal was to flourish and to not merely be surviving but thriving, growing and being fruitful in various areas of my life. The challenges of 2020 have cause me to run to my Abba God much quicker and more frequently, as well as seeking more fervently to be rooted in Him and His Word. When I do that, the “what if’s” and fears of the future disappear and I gain an eternal perspective. Sadly there are days I look to the circumstances and my faith begins to wither until return to Him and His living water. I am praying whatever the last 2 months of 2020 hold, I will continue to grow in Christ and my faith, to be quick to be loving, kind and compassionate and not give into the fear, worries and unrest all around us. I desire to be a flourishing tree with green leaves that bears fruit even in drought with my roots drawing my nourishment from God’s living water.
Waiting is a part of everyone’s life at some point or another. For those like myself who deal with chronic illnesses, we spend much time waiting. We are waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for test results, waiting for insurance to approve a procedure or treatment, waiting to get into a specialist and waiting to feel better.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and shield. – Psalm 33:20
One thing I will say is God has always met us, sustained us and caused us to grow and be refined in many ways through seasons of waiting.
I have learned more about God’s sovereignty, His faithfulness, having joy and gratitude in hard circumstances during seasons of waiting. The lessons learned in one season build up what we lean on in future seasons of waiting.
While I waited nearly a decade to get some of my issues diagnosed, I have walked through a couple more challenging seasons of waiting that I can look back and see how God really uses them to train me in His character, to grow my faith and dependency on Him and gain a greater eternal perspective than I would have had without them.
The first challenging season of waiting was from March 30, 2011 to June 7, 2011. For over two months I did not know if I had chronic blood cancer or an acute leukemia with a short time to live. God allowed dear friends Earl & Nancy to be visiting the first week of this season. Nancy had just completed chemo and radiation therapies after a mastectomy for recurring breast cancer. She and Earl sat in our living room recounting the ways God met them in her cancer and crying tears of joy. Their example showed me I wanted to be known as a women of joy and gratitude regardless of which diagnosis I received and to bring Christ glory. As I lived in the Word, I learned lessons on faith, counting it all joy, gratitude and dependency in a deeper and richer way than I had ever experienced prior to this. I realized whether my life was cut short or merely changed and long, I wanted my life to count for Christ and eternity. To share all I learned in those weeks would be a whole volume.
5 I wait for the LORD, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the LORD more than watchman for the morning, more than watchmen in the morning. – Psalm 130:5-6
The second harder season of waiting was from August 30, 2018 until March of 2019. This was not health related though the stress of it flared my health issues up. It was a nightmarish season of false accusations against my husband and two other pastors at our church. We were dealing with the hard reality that somebody we loved dearly and had been a very close friend was the one making these charges. Our relationship has not yet been restored since they continue to believe the lies about us. My husband and the the other two pastors were cleared of all wrong doing last March and commended for their faithfulness. This was a really hard season of seeking God and looking for His care and for treasures in the darkness. During this season, I dwelled in the Psalms and learned lessons of lamenting as well as praising God in the darkness of betrayal, false accusations and uncertainty. Somehow this season was much harder than awaiting a cancer diagnosis. But again we grew in trusting a faithful God who works out His perfect will even in situations that seem so counter to His heart of love and grace. And we still continue to wait for restoration of this relationship.
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. – Isaiah 45:3
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12
How has God met you in seasons of waiting? Which verses or passages most encouraged you?
Bella and Tozer are a relationship of opposites. Bella is petite, mature and fluffy white Bichon Frisée huntress that rules with a Napoleonic attitude yet her body melts into whoever is loving on her. Tozer is black, curly, energetic, gangly, adolescent standard poodle while intelligent he is unaware of his body size and all of life is a game. He still believes at 60 pounds and half my weight, he is a lap dog and wants to snuggle on my lap daily. Together they are like Mutt and Jeff, best buds ready to conquer the world or at least the bunnies and chipmunks in our yard.
Today was one of those warmer yet crisp fall days and I was trying to conquer our home after a weekend of projects and remodeling. I am grateful the dynamic canine duo were content playing outside this morning as I put away delivered groceries and conquer the dishes and clutter of our weekend.
I head outside to water our raised garden beds and fruit trees followed by picking the daily harvest of my fall crop of raspberries. As I meander, with hose in hand, toward the apple trees I notice in the center of my prolific raspberry patch two happy dogs, dirt all over my lawn and a cavernous hole. Both dogs were present and both had evidence of participating. Their happy dirty faces look so shocked when they hear my loud, “No!”
I put them both inside and go to assess the damages from chipmunk hunting gone awry. Four raspberries plants are uprooted and destroyed by enthusiastic digging paws small and large while another dozen have exposed roots. While I know it is instinct for my canine companions to hunt those pesky striped tunnelers, I am frustrated both with them even having a system of tunnels along our 50 feet of raspberries and their canine instinct. After raking as much dirt as I could back into the area, it is still very shy of enough dirt so hauled four of my 2 gallon buckets of dirt from an already harvested and emptied garden bed. I pack in the rich black loam and water that area then go back to watering fruit trees and active garden beds.
After I finish the watering, I go inside to wash my muddy hands then head out to pick raspberries with a growling stomach, as my lunch has been delayed by the antics of Bella and Tozer. I pick over 3/4 of patch when step into a another recent dug hole. My Birkenstock sandals now have a 3/4 inch lift of mud across the sole. I finish picking berries and take them inside where I will later will can a few jars of raspberry syrup to use as topping for ice cream and cheesecakes. Back outside, it takes another bucket and a half of soil to take care of this hole. Then I head back in to get my very delayed lunch.
Tozer and Bella great me with enthusiasm that we humans save for finally seeing a long lost loved one. Wagging tails and jumps for joy erase any anger I had for them acting like dogs in the raspberry patch. After some pets and scritches behind their ears I finally can listen to my rumbling stomach and make lunch with my pair of mismatched dogs scurrying underfoot hopeful I will drop something.
I ponder their opposites yet closeness and think people should be better at relating to those who look or act differently than us. I should also learn lessons from them to fully enjoy life with enthusiasm and abandon.
So this fall I will with joyful abandon enjoy the azure skies and kaleidoscope of colored autumn leaves. I will bring home the prettiest ones to put between pages of a book to enjoy later. I will pause to notice the sunsets, listen for honking geese or soulful cry of the loon and watch for other wildlife including the pesky chipmunks in my yard. I will go out of my way to greet and chat with strangers unlike myself, who are also made in the multifaceted image of God. Most of all, let me love others unconditionally like my dogs do so well.
I am harvesting the last of our summer garden on a brisk fall day as I dig our carrots. The azure blue skies and sunshine are deceiving from inside but out here my summer warm weather body is shivering even in my lightweight jacket feeling every bit of that 41 degrees. My dirt clad hands feel stiff and clumsy from the cold as I continue to pull up carrot after carrot.
I pause to watch a chickadee on my bird feeder. He is puffed up capturing air in his feathers to insulate his tiny jubilant body. He flies back and forth between feeder and our golden clad silver maple tree that is beginning to shed it’s leaves.
“Thank you, Lord for giving me an oasis in this turbulent world in my own back yard. Thank you I can appreciate nature and the everlasting changing kaleidoscope of our seasons from my little slice of earth. Lord, someday, allow me to have a bucket list experience of feeding a chickadee by hand.”
Returning to pulling up more carrots, I consider how best to save or put them up since so little room in my freezer. I am unable to bring myself to can carrots since I cared for a patient for many months in 1979 as a student nurse who had botulism from her friend’s home canned carrots. Memories of her several month ordeal make me shiver from something other than the cold.
Why do my memories have so much power so many years later? Am I being fearful, cautious or wise? What other memories are shaping my days now? How do I discern which are holding me back or helping me grow? “Lord, show me how to move forward free from hold of memories or anything that keeps me from fully loving and serving, You. Show me where I need to confront fears, practice forgiveness, place boundaries or step out boldly in faith.”
As I begin twisting the feathery greenery off each carrot newly released from the ground, I notice once again the chickadee joined by a friendly sparrow. They both suddenly take off as our gray squirrel commandeers the bird feeder for himself.
My thoughts return to the job at hand and wondering about how the future in our nation will play out. “Lord, I pray you will send much needed revival to our land. May your Holy Spirit pour out on our nation, the whole world and many repent and follow after You. Thwart the plans of the evil and over reaching government leaders. Allow peace and unity to foster, first among your people and then spread as Your salvation spreads. “
2 Chronicles 7:14 springs to mind and I once again fervently pray it.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”. 2 Chronicles 7:14
I lug the buckets of carrots into the house where I will wash them and bag them to put in the fridge. But first I will wash my hands in warm water and have soothing, warming cup of hot tea.
PS Do you have a peaceful oasis in your yard, garden or some other slice of nature to soothe your soul? I would love to hear about your spot of solace and contemplation in the comments.
I was wondering how faith helps others to deal with chronic disease. My counselor recently shared a letter with me from an older woman who has dealt with health issues all her life. While very encouraging, I realized many of my things that helped me are different than hers. My top three are:
1. Practicing gratitude. Gratitude gets my eyes off me and onto blessings I receive even in the midst of the hardest days. Gratefulness helps me recognize God’s fingerprints in my life and produces joy not based on my circumstances. This blog post below shares how God gave me a vivid real life illustration of the difference of gratitude and joy vs bitterness, resentment and anger.
2. Embrace my chronic illness as ordained by God for both my eternal good and His glory. As I submit to God’s plan in my life, my character and faith have transformed so much since my health tanked. Knowing God allows what makes us grow the most like Christ to conform me to be more and more like him enables me to try to see life from an eternal perspective and see His hand at work rather than be bitter or constantly asking “why me?” (Roman’s 8:28-29) Embracing it as His plan also helps enable me to accept my disease and embrace the new and ever changing normal. When diseases progress or symptoms change causing more loss, I grieve the losses and process it and eventually embrace what God has done. I still have bad days and am constantly trying to balance my doing with the needed rest and lack of energy of my body.
John Piper had an article on this with a quote that so struck a chord with me.
3. Word Saturated and prayer. If I am not regularly in the word and in prayer (communication) with God I will drift in my thinking and attitudes. I need to preach truth to myself constantly. With my past it is easy to go into old thought patterns of how worthless, unlovable and wrong I am and go into fear and/or panic attacks. Counseling has helped me immensely. One thing my counselor told me is my negative thoughts on self and fear and guilt have made big ruts in my thought processes and I need to make new paths of truth thinking. I have verses on spiral bound 3” x 5” cards that tell me who am in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-10, Colossians 3:12 etc) and ones to help me with fear (Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 26;3-4, Philippians 4: 6-8 and more). I have read a few times God knows we struggle with fear and that it is addressed 365 times in the Bible.
Adjusting and living with chronic illness is a daily even moment by moment process. Symptoms change, diseases progress but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I constantly fail but so grateful I can run back to my Daddy God’s arms and He always accepts me, forgives me and loves me.
What has God shown you to help you in your journey with health challenges or trials?
When you have chronic illnesses life is not predictive or perfect but I am choosing to make it be imperfectly beautiful.
Once again I wake with a pounding head, cloudy brain, swollen face and aching bones. I sigh with disappointment as I realize I have once again ruined our plans for swimming and canoeing with my love this Saturday. “Lord, help me handle this disappointment and choose again to have joy today because on my own so hard.”
I shuffle out of our bedroom and to the bathroom where I take two Benadryl to help sleep off my mast cell reaction and migraine. As I shuffle back towards our bed , I say “Good morning” to Joel.
One look at me he understands today is going to be a down day, “That fragrant waitress really impacted you last night. I’m so sorry, Hon.” as he snuggles me in an understanding and comforting hug. He kisses me and I stumble back to bed to sleep off the symptoms thinking how grateful I am for such a loving, supportive husband.
Hours later, I emerge from the cocoon of pillows and blankets. Still draggy and achy but my headache is more of a constant dull ache rather than the incapacitating migraine. “I am sorry I ruined our plans once again.”
“Our plans are not ruined just rearranged. It is a three day weekend for me since I took Monday off so we can try again then if you feel up to it. Remember God sovereignly planned this for both of our lives for our eternal good and His glory.”
That scenario I just described has played out so many times over the last 12 years. We have missed social events, conferences, church and outings. Sometimes Joel attends without me with my blessing. But my daily practice on waking of praying for God to give me joy and be able to find at least three things each day I am grateful for. changes my focus from me and my circumstances and puts it on my gracious an sovereign God. I can, because of those daily prayers and choosing focus on the good and lovely things, have a life of joy and laughter. My life is truly imperfectly beautiful.
I smile and am hopeful by Monday we can enjoy our outing. I reflect again how consistently inconsistent my life with Mast Cell disease can be.
How has God brought beauty, joy or grace to your imperfect life? Do you see the beauty in an imperfect day?
P.S. we were able to go swimming and canoeing on Monday.
Recently I was pondering what is God’s path for my life in the midst of all this craziness of life with pandemic, divisions, racial tensions and shortages. What I ended up doing was compiling a list of verses that dealt with His directing me and helping me navigate through this life until I join Him in glory. I will stop writing and let God’s word do the rest of the talking. Pray you are blessed, encouraged and your hope renewed as you read these.
 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
my feet have not slipped.
 My steps have held fast to your paths;
 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
 So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
A man’s steps are from the LORD;
how then can man understand his way?
 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.
 Thus says the LORD:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
 Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the LORD!
 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
1 John 2:5-6
 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.
When I spend time on God’s word it changes my focus, builds my faith, gives hope, peace and joy based not on my circumstances but on Jesus Christ. God’s word give me a lens through which to view the world and all that is happening around me. If I just watch news and read social media my heart can easily be in fear and turmoil. But if I filter all around me through the lens of God’s word, I can in faith say “it is well with my soul. “
It took me way to many years to overcome feelings of being ugly, unlovable, unwanted and insecure. My worth was based on the approval of others and their acceptance of me rather than on the unchanging truth of God’s Word.
What transformed me is studying and memorizing scripture passages that tell me who I am in Christ. Realizing God’s abounding steadfast love and mercy for me which caused Him to send His only son to die on a cross and resurrected to pay the penalty for all my sin (John 3:16) and wrongdoing once and for all.
Wise counsel was shared with me to study who God says I am and focus on pleasing an audience of one – the One Holy God. That was the beginning of my transforming from fearful and insecure to realizing I am loved with an everlasting and redeeming love.
Ephesians 1:3-10 was the passage I lived in and still often review. It lists many of the things I am in Christ.
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10
Here is a list of things this passage tells me about myself as follower of Christ:
I am blessed with every spiritual blessing
I am chosen by God before the creation of the world.
Chosen to be holy and blameless in God’s sight.
I am loved!
I am predestined.
I am adopted as God’s child through faith in Jesus Christ!!
I am Blessed in the Beloved because of Christ’s glorious grace not something I earn.
I am redeemed!
I am forgiven!
He lavishes grace on me.
He makes known to me the mystery of His will.
I am united to Christ!
How can we not realize how loved, precious and cared for we are by God when we take these truths to heart?! For me, I had to retrain my thinking by frequently reading this passage a few times a day for months to get these truths to make new ruts in my thinking to undo past wrong thinking of being unlovable, unwanted and and ugly. Thankfully, I had a godly counselor that helped me overcome this.
If you too struggle with self image, please begin searching God’s Word for who He says you are. This Ephesians passage is a good one to begin with. There are other passages that have helped me I will continue to share in future posts.
Dear readers, may each of you realize how blessed, chosen, loved and cared for you are by Jesus Christ who gave His life for you.
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris 1880
We recently downsized and I am evaluating what are the things in my life that detract from the passions, gifts and purposes God has for my life. I am considering quotes like this but adding a Christian perspective. I have tweaked William Morris’ quote to fit my viewpoint. “Have nothing in my home that I do not consider useful or believe to be beautiful or helps me to fully pursue and glorify God.”
“Have nothing in my home that I do not consider useful or believeto be beautiful or helps me to fully pursue and glorify God.”
I am pondering that and looking to rid my life of what detracts from the pursuit of and glorification of God. What things or events detract from this? How do I best use my time and energy to fulfill that? What things need edited from my life? What things are good and need given more time and attention? Are there things or disciplines I am missing I need to add to my life?
We have downsized and are preparing our home for aging in place before we are too old to do that. Also making it safe for me with my chemical sensitivity from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) as well as serving me with my multiple chronic health issues. A smaller home takes less time and energy to clean but quickly looks cluttered if too many extra things. My spirit is calmer and more focused when my home is not in chaos or disorder. That may be due partly to my ADD tendencies. So I am prayerfully trying to decide what things to sell, donate or bless others with and what truly serves us and helps us serve and honor God.
I am an artistic and creative soul and beauty greatly speaks to me so could never be an austere minimalist. God has made me/ us in His image and part of His image as creator is His putting creativity within us. God has gifted some more than others. I know being creative in home decor, garden design, painting, sewing quilting and writing poetry is something I will continue. My big take away is what things do I edit in my life to allow for those times as well as God’s purposes?
Below are some of my recent projects:
In the spring of 2011 I was waiting three months to discover if I had acute leukemia and would have months to live or a chronic blood cancer that would alter my life but not shorten it. God made used a series of events and spoke to me in my heart in a very dramatic way. He made it clear to me that regardless of my circumstances or health I needed to be a woman of joy and gratitude who is engaged in others around me. I began then to practice gratitude daily and each morning recount at least three things I am grateful for today. I also pray each morning that God will enable me to be a woman of joy. For the most part He has answered those prayers. If my joy were based on circumstances instead of God I would most likely become a bitter and complaining woman. For more about this read my blog post “The Choice.”
Recently we brought home a standard poodle puppy who has been such a source of joy!
Noticing the simple joys around me daily helps me foster my joy and gratitude to God. Watching antics of a puppy, seeing God’s handiwork in the spring beauty all around, sharing laughter or a hug with a loved one, watching a sunset, visiting in person (a rare thing in this pandemic while being immunocompromised) and praying with a sister in Christ or watching a bumblebee flitting around pollinating blossoms all are joy filled and satisfying and point me to God.
This week I have been creating beauty and usefulness outdoors as plant flowers and our raised bed organic garden. I find some of my best times of conversing with God in prayer and contemplating what changes are needed in my life happen while my hands are working in the soil.
In my quiet times, I am researching what God desires of me in scriptures and journaling. I need to know what I am to do and keep in my life before I can do much editing. I have another three weeks in my month long break between leading Bible studies and my fasting from most social media to discover more what my life will look like. Over the next weeks hoping to include some conversations with my husband as his godly wisdom and insight is so valuable and he knows me better than anybody except God.
Have you edited things to better enable you to fully pursue God and glorify Him? What things did you remove or add to your life? I would love to hear your answers.
The last couple months has been a mix of MCAS, EDS and arthritis flares, loss of my faithful companion Dexter and getting a new companion.
Spring is the season of weather always in flux, lots of rain showers and high pollen counts. In addition I began going into the world in late March after 13 months at home isolating due to being immunocompromised. With my doctor’s approval, we have began attending church and going into some stores in late March. I am to continue wearing a N-95 or better mask and social distance while I am out.
Worshipping in person has been such a joy! While I am very grateful for Livestream services, it is not the same as being there in person. Joining in song and worship with other believers and hearing the teaching in person has been a huge blessing for my husband and I. We have enjoyed conversations with other believers before and after services. I have noticed very little impact on my MCAS from attending church.
I have gone to a couple stores and some doctors appointments in the last month and each time have mast cell reactions to the chemical disinfectants and scented hand sanitizers that knock we down for the next 2-3 days with migraines. All over swelling and pain as well as GI issues, dizziness, ringing ears and brain fog. I am feeling like the pandemic cleaners are greatly limiting were I can safely go. Prior to COVID, I could shop in Trader Joe’s without a mask and no reactions. Now with a mask with a 5 layer filter including a carbon layer I react afterwards for 2-3 days. Same thing happened after a visit to my oncologist/hematologist and again when went to my doctor who manages my mast cell disease.
Chronic illness has meant I am home much more than when I was healthy and my Goldendoodle Dexter was my constant companion. April 13 we had to make the decision to end his suffering from severe attitude degeneration and bladder cancer. The loss of Dexter left a huge void in my heart and life. I was surprised how much grief I had with his passing as much greater than with past animals. We have a second dog Bella a Bichon Frisée. She absolutely adores my husband but just tolerates me. She spends her days in his home office while he works. With medical expenses and my not working we wondered how we would find or afford a hypoallergenic dog I would tolerate.
God graciously provided a puppy for us in His kindness. First of all, we were gifted money to buy a puppy by somebody who understands my love of dogs and my health limitations. Then when enquiring with the breeder we bought our puppy from they dropped their price $500 because liked us so much. Thursday May 6 we brought home an eight week old black standard poodle puppy we named Tozer after pastor and Christian writer A.W. Tozer
Bella and Tozer have seemed to hit it off. Tozer is not a fan of his crate so we have some disrupted sleep with his whining. Saturday after playing with grandkids and a long walk after dinner, he slept all night. Sunday we thought he got enough exercise being in back yard while we gardened but he was up whining LOUDLY several times during the night. Our sleep is reminiscent of having a new born in the home so it is a good thing he is affectionate and adorable!
I am so grateful My husband built me high raised beds for our garden last year and completed the final bed this spring they are 28 inches high which makes it easy to maintain on higher pain days and should allow us to garden as we age. This week I realized another benefit of the height keeping a new puppy from getting into them and trampling it all. Hopefully by the time he is tall enough he will be trained better.
This spring, my husband has decided my arthritis flares are more accurate at predicting rain than the weather man. I still try to walk or ride my recumbent bike most days. I just received a referral to an orthopedic doctor and hoping when get scheduled to see him for a cortisone shot in my bad knee to enable me to accomplish more and enjoy more activities this summer.
Currently, I am on a month long hiatus from leading/facilitating ladies Bible studies through our church via Zoom. Last week I finished a study on Psalms and June11 will begin a six week study on prayer thus summer. My goals for this month off include seeking how God wants me to simplify my life so less things to detract and distract from what He desires for me. What are the passions and gifts God has given me? What things need weeded out so those things can grow? Please pray for God to clearly show me and direct my steps. Secondly a concentrated effort on puppy training.
We have either raised or purchased all our garden and flowering plants. They are in the greenhouse shelf on our deck or indoors with grow lights waiting for it to warm up a bit more. Hopefully will begin planting them in next couple weeks. My garden has peas, lettuce, Swiss chard up and waiting for beets, carrots and onions to make their appearances. We have been enjoying the last couple weeks watching the tulips and bleeding hearts blooming in our back yard. The bright new green leaves and flowers of a pring so reminds me of God and creation. Soon will be summer with lakes to swim in and go to paddle our canoe. So enjoy being on His creation.
May your spring be blessed and May you see God’s hand in nature and events of your life.
I recently viewed a post on social media where a woman was asking for prayer for her and husband who are counseling a couple with a deviant lifestyle that ran counter to Biblical principles. What was interesting is how many people suggested blasting them with how wrong were and how few expressed offering love and grace.
It made me consider how Jesus responded to people. He ate with sinners even prostitutes and tax collectors which were considered the lowest of the low in that day. Respectable people would not be seen with them let alone sit down and eat a meal with them. Jesus had words of healing, hope and encouragement for the lost. He built up relationships with them and did not blast them with condemnation. He compassionately saw their needs and hurts and He longed to gather them up in his arms like a mother hen with its chicks. He was the Good Shepherd who left the 99 in the sheep pen to go and search for the one that was lost to lovingly carry it home.
Jesus behaved much differently with the hypocritical, religious leaders of His day. He confronted them and called them out on their behavior and heart attitudes. He called them a brood of vipers and white washed tombs. He saw their pride and self sufficiency and their putting unbearable loads on the people. He reminds them a Doctor doesn’t come to the well but the sick and needy.
How often do I, do we, come across judgmental or harsh with those who need Jesus Christ? How often do our words and actions drive them away from our loving, merciful Christ and the gospel? Or do we break through barriers by showing mercy, compassion and kindness and be a winsome witness to the truth of Christ in you, the hope of glory? I was reminded of what I once heard a pastor say, “We can not expect the lost to live like believers. But we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live for him.”
Today our world is hurting and so easily offended. How much more need is there now, more than ever, for Christ’s people to be peaceable, full of love, compassion, mercy and grace. Living that way in stark contrast to the world makes us a powerful and winsome witness of the glorious grace of Jesus within us. Let’s be that kind of salt and light.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:15-18
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35