Living with Chronic Illness- Spotlight on a New Blogger

Living with chronic illness opens up a myriad of issues. For a long time, I did not say much about my chronic pain and fatigue because I do not want to be defined by it and also do not want to miss out on opportunities such as the 11 ministry trips to other countries Jesus has blessed me with.

Chronic illness is often referred to as an invisible illness because people will say things like, “You don’t look sick.”

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There are also people with usually good intentions that want to offer advice and the majority of the time it is something the person with chronic illness has already tried.

Living with chronic illness can mean saying you plan to join in an activity but then the fatigue or pain flares up and boom you stay home on a sofa, in a comfy chair, or in bed.

A blogger I follow, Tracey, of Tracey’s World, lives with Lupus. She shares about her experience. In her post yesterday she shared something significant about herself that she is a blogger with disabilities not disabled. Her post is- Labeled Disabled. The Struggle.

The only reason I began to share about living with chronic illness in my blog is in hopes of encouraging others. My theme verses from the bible for that are in 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 

I have many mornings that I am not sure how I will make it through the day, so I pray and ask for strength. Sometimes the answer is something small like having a parking space close to the door at the school where I teach in the mornings. Even little things can be a big blessing.

Fortunately, as a teacher I can sit most of the class time if I need to and in ministry I can sit most of the time as well. My schedule is such that I do have time in the afternoon to rest if need be.

I video I watched of a sister in Christ sharing about the difference between being sick like with a cold and chronic illness is a humorous way to understand the difference. Here it is.

God Bless. Thank you for reading.

Music Mondays- Waymaker by Steffany Gretzinger, John Wilds and Jesus Image Choir

Feeling confused as to which way to go? Not sure which step to take first?

When we do not know the way, Jesus is the way and makes the way for us.

Not sure how things can work out? When things seem hopeless, Jesus is a miracle worker.

Not sure who we can really count on because of relationship problems, toxic relationships. or people failing us? When we are not sure who we can trust, Jesus is a promisekeeper.

Things feel dark all around us? Jesus is the light in the darkness. He is the light of the world in whom there is no darkness at all.

I love this video of Waymaker by Steffany Gretzinger, John Wilds and the Jesus Image Choir. My prayer is it blesses you as you start your week.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

With God No One Is Overlooked

When I first began to teach in the special program for moms that I teach in, it was mostly because no one else would take the spot in a school that was on the far outskirts of my city. I saw an internal email that someone was needed to teach in that school. I offered to teach it and ended up having the position.

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I understand why I was overlooked. I do not have children. I am a single man. I did not fit the profile of someone who teaches in such a program.

BUT

God opens doors.

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Ten years later- I have helped eight former assistants to become lead instructors whether for a few quarters or continually.

This week I will be part of a small group to make some decisions about our program.

The reason I am sharing this is because God can make a way when there seems to be no way. God can open doors for us even when we are overlooked.

I did not arrive at this point easily. There were obstacles along the way. It required me to grow as a teacher along the way too. When God opens a door for us. he does not necessarily look for the most qualified in the beginning, but he will give us opportunities to become qualified.

Whatever our situation is, we should never overlook God’s ability to help us, guide us, and provide for us when we are overlooked.

God never overlooks his children. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Changes in Life-Look to the One Who Never Changes

My home church has been going through some changes the past several months. I was reminded of that yesterday when I stopped by the church office and my friend Pastor Scott let me know he is changing to part-time. He is old enough to qualify for Medicare, so this is semi retirement for him compared to the hours he worked for many years.

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Our church experienced the lead pastor stepping aside into a counseling role and a new lead pastor coming on board last August.

There have been other changes as to the offices each pastor is using, responsibilities changing hands etc.

The changes for me are more a matter of roll with them and be flexible. The reason for my thinking is that for all of us change is the one constant in our lives as God brings them about. The only thing that does not change is the character of God as we read in Hebrews 13:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

The character and personhood of Jesus never changes. However, his role has changed at times if we consider that he left his throne in heaven to be born as a human baby to grow to be a man to die for our sins. After his resurrection, he ascended back to heaven with the role of our Sympathetic High Priest interceding for us as we read in Hebrews 4:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

In the midst of changes at my church involving old friends like Pastor Scott whom I have known for 26 years, I realize that only God does not change. It is God the Father, his Son Jesus and The Holy Spirit who are the ones we know will never change.

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Understanding such truths frees us up to follow God’s working in our midst as he creates a new work among us in any local church. They anchor us in Christ as things change around us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Choose Kind

The school where I teach my morning Family Literacy Class arranged for staff to buy T-Shirts at a discount that will have the name of the school on the back. I bought one short sleeve and one long sleeve because I love the message on the front.

CHOOSE KIND

It is an excellent message for school kids to see but also for any person-child, teen. or adult.

Kindness is so desperately needed these days. It is a mistake to think of kindness as being weakness. Kindness is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and since the Holy Spirit is omniscient and omnipotent being part of the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I don’t think anyone could mistake the Holy Spirit as being weak.

Choose kind is one of my themes for this year as we enter the election year in the U.S. There will be a lot of bickering and heated debating, but not by me. It is not because I lack strong views and values. It is because I don’t see any usefulness in arguing over it.

When we show kindness to others, it can open doors for sharing the love of Jesus. My desire is to show the kindness of God to others. I love the verse in Ephesians 2:

“in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”

God expressed his kindness to us in Jesus. We did not deserve God’s kindness, but he showed it to us anyway because of his grace and his love for us.

I am looking forward to receiving the shirts and wearing them at the school and elsewhere. More than that I look forward to continuing to express God’s kindness to others.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- My First Drama Performance at My Church

In the 1990s before God called me to work with refugees and immigrants, I was involved with drama ministry at my church. My first monologue performance on a Sunday morning turned out to be quite an adventure.

The Friday before my Sunday morning performance, I injured my hand and wrist and went to the ER. I spent the rest of that day and Saturday staying at home taking pain pills. Sunday morning came and I went to church.

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My character was a person who had just left a funeral of a friend who died in a car accident. I did a little ad lib and made it that he died in a car I was driving hence the splint on my hand and wrist.

It never occurred to me to ask to reschedule even though I was in pain. I did not take a pain pill before my performance because I did not want to forget my lines. I was in two worship services. After my second performance, I went home, iced down my hand and wrist, and took a pain pill.

I went to the doctor’s office the next day for a follow up from my ER visit. My doctor, a nurse, and two office people went to my church at the time and all said the same thing, “I thought the splint was only a prop.”

I shared with the worship pastor that I thought I would throw up during my performance but didn’t. He said, “that would have been an interesting prop.”

Before each performance, I prayed and asked God to carry me through it and use it to his glory. He gave me the strength to make it through and he anointed it for his purposes.

In our weakness he is strong as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:

“But he said to me, â€śMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

So many times in my life I have found that to be so true. God’s power revealed through my weakness physically.

I am glad, however, that I did not throw up on the stage. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Being Blessed by Seeing Others Succeed

In recent days I felt led to share about seeing refugees and immigrants I have helped who are now enjoying success in life. It kind of brought me back to the beginnings of blogging for me. I shared about a young woman from Vietnam who is now a registered pharmacist and a young woman from Guatemala who is in college now. Today I would like to share about a Yazidi man who came here as a refugee.

A few months ago, I saw a former student come to the elementary school where I teach my Family Literacy Class of moms. He is currently working in IT for the school system here. Yesterday morning I saw him come to the entrance as I was leaving. I greeted him in his language and he smiled.

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He is a Yazidi. The Yazidi people have been oppressed for centuries because their religion is different than the majority religion in Iraq and Syria.

My city has the largest number of Yazidis in all of North America. I love having Yazidi friends and students. There is a special place in my heart for people who have been oppressed.

So when I see him come to the school where I teach, it is always a source of joy for me. It always blesses me to see my Yazidi friends experience success in their new lives here in America.

Because Jesus spent the early years of his life on earth as a refugee, I believe refugees have a special place in his heart. I am grateful that Jesus led me to the work and ministry I have now in reaching out to, teaching, and helping refugees.

But it is no time to rest on my laurels. There are more souls to reach out to and show the love of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Hassle That Led to A Blessing- Part 2

Last week I shared about a hassle of my asthma inhaler not working for the last doses causing me to go to the pharmacy. Because of that I was able to see a young woman from Vietnam, whom I had helped, working as a registered pharmacist. That was A Hassle That Led to a Blessing.

That same trip led to another hassle that turned into a blessing. I left my insurance card there. On Sunday I called and they told me they had my card. Before I went to pick it up, I stopped at a store across the street. I head a voice say-“Is that teacher Matt.”

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I looked and saw a young woman from Guatemala who was my student for a few years. She met with me at my church along with another woman from Colombia. I helped both of them prepare for college.

It was a blessing to see her again and to catch up on things with her. She is back in college after having had a baby boy.

It is too easy to get bogged down in the difficulties of now and forget how God has worked through us. I am thankful that God gives us reminders of him working through us.

It is too easy to focus on only negatives in our past and doing so leads to feeling worthless, depressed, and other negative thoughts and emotions.

It is important to remember how God has worked through us and to express gratitude to God for that. If we do so, it can help lift us up.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Love On The Line by Hillsong

To The One Who Has Rescued My Soul

To The One Who Has Welcomed Me Home

Jesus loves all people. Because of his love for all of us, he left heaven to be born as a baby to grow to be a man to die for us.

He did it to rescue the souls of all who will receive him.

He welcomes home anyone who will receive him.

No matter what our circumstances are, what our mistakes are, what our messes in life are, he will rescue the souls of all who receive him and welcome them home.

Depression? Jesus welcomes you home to himself.

Anxiety? Jesus welcomes you home to himself.

Family problems? Jesus welcomes you home to himself.

Illness? Jesus welcomes you home to himself.

Life struggles? Jesus welcomes you home to himself.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. Be blessed by this song. 🙂

Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year when Martin Luther King Jr. Day draws near, I like to show my students the video of Dr. King’s famous I Have A Dream speech. I explain about the terrible segregation and discrimination that Dr. King and others worked to end. I explain that his speech happened while Congress was considering the Civil Rights Act and that they benefit from Dr. King’s work and the work of others because we have a law against discrimination.

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Each time I watch the speech, I get goosebumps. I was a child during the Civil Rights movement. I was only ten years old when Dr. King was killed. But even as a child, I admired him and what he stood for.

The church should be the place where equality is the norm and not the exception. The only way to become a Christian is through the cross of Jesus. We are all sinners who need forgiveness and we find it at the foot of the cross of Jesus. There are no elite people before the cross of Jesus.

Paul wrote something revolutionary 2,000 years ago. In Galatians 3 we read:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”

There is to be no dividing line in the church. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

The Christian’s thought should only be does a person we meet know Jesus or not.

God has blessed me with the wonderful opportunity to share his love with people from all over the world. My childhood days of feeling inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., becoming best friends with the only African American boy in 7th grade, becoming good friends with two Native American brothers in 10th grade, set the tone early on for what would be my future calling from God to share his love with people from diverse cultures.

I am thankful for the impact Dr. King had on me as a child.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.