We Need You

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Gentle Reader,

Illness.

If I could punch ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”) in the face, I would.

Though I thank God each day that I’m not bed-bound or attached to a respirator like some of my fellow sufferers, this disease that invaded my body a few years ago just sucks. Literally. Sucks my energy. Sucks my memory. Sucks my ability to find words. Sucks away time with family and friends. Sucks my appetite. Sucks my balance.

Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Unfortunately, there is a bias in the medical world against treating ME as an actual, physical problem. Nobody would dare suggest that a cancer patient is “just depressed.” Nobody would insist that MS is “all in your head.” Yet time and time again, people with ME are confronted with these flippancies. Do I deal with depression and anxiety? Yes. Are the very real low-grade fevers, swollen glands and aching joints part of that? No. In fact, I believe that the ME diagnosis I received in 2010 contributed to the emotional and spiritual problems that were beginning to develop. I don’t know a single person who can grapple with a chronic condition, from migraines to back pain to digestive problems, without being impacted emotionally.

I signed this letter a few weeks ago, urging HHS Secretary Sebelius to sever the government’s connection with the Institute of Medicine in “redefining” this disease. Redefinition is something that ME sufferers long for; we would love to be treated with respect and compassion instead of being dismissed. We would love to see money devoted to research. However, this current redefinition plan is suspect. Nobody on the IOM panel is an expert in ME, and several of those attached to the project have a focus in psychology.

We need you, dear friend. Those of us with ME – and all others who deal with “invisible” illnesses like fibromyalgia and lupus – need you. What we face each day is real. The pain is real. We’re not “making this up.” We don’t “just want attention.”

Please, keep your eyes and ears open in the coming months. Stand with us. If you know someone who lives with a chronic condition, find a way to encourage him. Spend time with her. Do what you can to show your support.

My journey to faith. (15)

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Forced to Rely Upon Him

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Gentle Reader,

I had planned to write a series of posts about how we Americans need to learn to divorce faith from politics, meaning that we cannot rationally expect people who do not have the Holy Spirit within to behave as if they do. We should not be surprised when culture moves farther away from a moral center. We should not wring our hands when laws that strike at the Judeo-Christian ethic are passed. Let’s stop pretending that this country, this world, isn’t a sinful place full of people in need of the buckets of grace we ourselves have received.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t work for justice. You know that I am passionate about that. What I do think this means is that we stop trying to “fix” the system. Did the early believers lobby the Roman Senate to pass laws to stop the exposure of unwanted infants? No. They just went out and rescued the babies. Did they write columns about the unfairness of not being a state-sponsored religion? No. They just went out and shared the Gospel.

We need to go back to their example and learn.

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Anyway, that’s not what I want to write about today.

Tuesday morning I woke up with a headache. That’s not abnormal. Usually, I stay home and rest for a day and all is well. But the headache was still there on Wednesday. And then it got worse on Thursday. Made a trip to the Urgent Care for a shot in the rear and came out with a prescription for anti-nausea medication that’s left me quite hungover. (I’m going to have to nap after posting this).

I don’t like that I’ve missed work. I don’t like that I’ve been stuck at home – without air conditioning! I don’t like that there seem to be more unhealthy weeks than healthy.

There is something I do like, though.

Maybe it’s the after-effects of the medication, but I’m not anxious. Well, not as anxious as I could be. Usually when something like this happens, I immediately feel guilty for not being at work. I freak out about our finances. Right now, the best word I can think of to sum up my attitude is “meh.” It’ll be okay. God is looking after Chris and I. He provides for all our needs out of the endless supply of His riches. He knows that my body and I don’t cooperate; He allowed this for His glory and my good, even if I don’t know what that looks like yet.

I have to rely on God. I don’t have any other option.

And I’m thankful.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Night Watches

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Gentle Reader,

I despise summertime. Always have and probably always will. The heat depresses me. I lose my appetite (for everything but ice cream, cucumbers and my mom’s iced tea). And when you live in a house without air conditioning, a house with windows that take in the full splendor of the afternoon sun…

You get the idea.

Add to this crankiness a nasty headache and a bout of insomnia and you’ve got a recipe for a full-fledged Marie meltdown. (Here’s an odd side note: insomnia does not cause Chronic Fatigue. The CFIDS actually causes the insomnia. Go figure). In the wee hours of this Monday morning, I listened to my husband snoring blissfully (the sound breaks through my earplugs quite easily) and stared at the wall, wondering why my life had to be so unfair.

Then I remembered something.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches. – Psalm 63:6 (NKJV)

All right.

I gathered up my pillow and my faithful doggy companion (who gets quite irritated with me during these sleepless nights, but feels obligated to stay by my side) and flopped down on the couch. And I started to pray. About everything. About nothing. I poured out all kinds of semi-coherent concerns and worried onto God’s lap. I asked for healing for people in my family. I sought out His wisdom for a difficult situation at work (and He gave me a brilliant answer, by the way). Subtly, the focus began to shift. I began to think about how awesome He is. How He’s always been so faithful to provide for me. How He’s preserved my life and that of my husband.

The Lord is just…amazing. There aren’t suitable words to describe Him.

Slowly, the flood of words died out and I lay there, still, content to just be in His presence. It was still too hot. I still wasn’t sleepy. My head still hurt. But all of that was okay, because I knew He was with me. I knew that He had listened to me and that He was going to work, had already been working, on all of the tough things. I knew, somehow, that He was sitting with me, His gentle hand stroking my hair.

Benny shifted against my legs, his soft fur sticking to my skin. He sighed contentedly. I think God was petting him.

So, my friend, when you can’t sleep, pray. Talk to God. Tell Him about everything. You’ll start to think about His goodness and mercy. You’ll find yourself in awe of His love. The knots in your soul will loosen and your heart will stop racing. It isn’t ideal to be awake during the night watches, but you just may find yourself sweetly blessed.

My journey to faith. (15)

In With the New

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Gentle Reader,

Taking the last few weeks away from the blog has forced me to consider the time and effort that good, solid writing requires. I have had the beginnings of a serious project lined up since late summer, but fear and allowing myself to be distracted have kept me from starting. To craft a book, the kind I know that I am supposed to, is a serious commitment. What if I can’t do it?

Interestingly, I discover that I have had to work to keep the fear and the distractions going. The Lord has been pulling one thing after another out of my life; I have to find things to replace them. Once I actually sit down with all those research materials and start plucking at the keyboard, I know that I’ll be lost in the process. I know that I will regret not starting sooner.

Such is the nature of disobedience.

So, what are my resolutions or goals for 2013?

They can be summed up in one word: Discipline.

I want the self-control to (in no particular order):

1. Develop a writing schedule (subject to flights of inspiration and battles with writer’s block, of course). I’m getting nearer to 30. It’s time to be truly adult and serious about this.

2. Begin AND finish the project to which said schedule will be devoted.

3. Read through the entire Bible. I have a reading plan and a chronological study Bible that should aid in this. (In the past, I’ve always gotten bogged down in the Kings/Chronicles narratives. You’d think it would be Leviticus…).

4. Memorize 24 passages of Scripture, via the LPM Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

5. Disconnect from social media for long stretches of time.

6. Refuse to be part of any gossip or drama. Period.

7. Stop trying to people-please. This means speaking the truth at all times.

8. Stop indulging whiners or victims. We all have hard times, we all have bad days, and of course it’s okay to blow off steam or get emotional. I’m happy to stand beside anyone in that. But there comes a time in some when patterns begin to emerge and enough is enough.

9. Turn my anxieties over to the Lord. I have not yet learned to be “anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6) but I think that may come in the casting of the burdens upon His lap (1 Pt. 5:7).

10. Wake up at the same time every day. This might be the hardest thing on this list. Life with CFIDS is complicated, but becomes moreso with variances in sleep routine.

11. In relation to the above, I need to stick to the walking/yoga/stretching.

The first four goals on this list are the only ones with specific, attainable-this-year outcomes. The rest are all lifestyle changes that I’ve been working on for awhile now and may well continue to work on into the coming years. And that’s okay. I believe that we are all too obsessed with measurable achievement. Some victories are small and never seen. Some things are never finished this side of Heaven.

Easily enough written, but that list is mighty overwhelming at the moment. Thankfully, in the quest for discipline, I am not left alone:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.- Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

My journey to faith. (15)