A Day of Being Blessed

After the difficult summer I experienced, and after the recent health struggles, yesterday was a blessing in many ways. Sometimes we just have to hang on until such moments come. God will help us grow in the hard times and take care of us and then a moment or a day comes that is such a boost. Yesterday was such a day for me.

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Thursday evening I received an email that my ministry support check was ready. That was a week earlier than I expected. In the email. The pastor asked me to call him about it. There was an extra check. I had two. The other one was the amount that is being given to all missionaries my church supports. I picked it up Friday morning. The extra amount has made it possible for me to catch up on some things. My home church has helped me a lot in recent months. It was because of my church and my Vietnamese friends that I made it through a real hard patch.

In the afternoon, I joined a family from Mexico for the Open House where the husband works. It was so much fun to interact with them. The husband gave us a tour of the factory. It is a company that works with metal products. I had met the owner when he came to visit my morning class at the elementary school where I teach moms. I was able to talk with the owner and mentioned that one of my students is married to one of his workers. He came over to the table with me to greet the family. He held their baby for a few moments. I told the owner about how his employee visits my class when they have a day off because his family is important to him. The owner looked at him and said, “We need to have lunch.”

In the evening, I visited a young family from El Salvador.. We ate papusas a food I love from El Salvador. I had an opportunity to practice my Spanish with them and learned a few new words. They have a 16 month old baby. She is a joy to be around. They sent me home with some papusas, so today I will enjoy my favorite recipe of putting food someone else cooks for me in the microwave. 🙂

Yesterday was a day of being blessed by my church, and by spending time with friends. It was the kind of day that one feels their cup is filled.

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Music Mondays- Till I Met You by Laura Story

Yesterday the pastor of my church taught about what it means that God is love as it says in 1 John 4. It was a wonderful message. The message basically was:

God is love means that love is part of God’s core being. He doesn’t love because of what we do, who we are, or anything else. He loves because it is part of who he is.

When we come to God, our motives are not pure. We do not bring anything to the table that God needs. God does not need anything from us, but he loves us because it is part of who he is.

We bring to God our failures, our sins, our struggles, our depression, our anxiety, our illness, our doubts. our mess. God loves us. Not because of what we do or who we are. He loves us because he loves us.

I love this video by Laura Story. The lyrics of the song so beautifully express the truth of how God loves us even though we are a mess. I hope the song blesses you as you start your week. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy Thanksgiving Day Tomorrow in Canada/Gratitude

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Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I have followers in Canada, so I would like to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving Day.

In Honor of Thanksgiving Day in Canada, I would like to share a gratitude list.

1- I am grateful first and foremost for my Savior Jesus. I would be nothing without him. He is my reason to keep going.

2- I am grateful for the classes I teach and for my students. It is a joy to watch them learn and advance in life.

3- I am thankful for all of you who read, like and especially comment on my blog.

4- I am thankful for the ministry the Lord has given me to share his love with people from all over the world.

5- I am grateful that I can encourage others who suffer with chronic illness and depression through my blog.

6- I am thankful for recent opportunities to practice Spanish.

7- I am thankful for my microwave because I would be lost in the kitchen without it. 🙂

What are you thankful for? Especially my followers in Canada 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When Hopeless Meets Real Hope

So many times in my life the situation looked hopeless from a human perspective.

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There was growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother with an untreated mental illness who was highly manipulative.

There was the experience of getting sick and almost dying.

There was the process of having to rebuild my life after my 3 years of being sick and recovering.

So many other examples from my life that would cause others to think at many times in my life that things looked hopeless.

BUT

With Jesus there is always hope.

1 Peter 1 says:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

With Jesus, we can have a living hope because he defeated death. Think of it. He conquered death. If he can conquer death, he can help in any situation. There is always hope for us with Jesus.

Ali of mynotsopoeticstories.wordpress.com is a new blogger I follow. She shared in her first post about how Jesus came to her and brought her hope in a beautiful post- Amazing Grace. It is an excellent post to read and be encouraged by.

I know how it feels to feel there is no hope. I also know what it is like to meet Jesus and have him change my life. I know what it is like to have Jesus do the seemingly impossible in my life.

Whatever situation we are in, whatever problem we face, Jesus can and will work in our lives. He is hope because he defeated death for us and he invites us to come to him. n Matthew 11 he said:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

His invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from his invitation. His arms are open wide.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

World Mental Health Day- October 10

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Living with chronic illness has also meant dealing with symptoms I did not know would accompany two of my chronic illnesses, depression and anxiety.

I will never forget the day that I finally started taking the prescription my doctor had given me for them. It has since changed for one that also addresses nerve pain associated with Fibromyalgia. I did not want to start medication. I was not even sure if it was the right thing for me to do. There is still stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues.

God spoke to me through watching a movie. The movie was Brain On Fire. It is based on the true story of a woman with a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the brain. She was about to be sent off to a permanent stay at a psychiatric hospital when a psychiatrist tested her for the autoimmune problem. She was placed on a medication for the problem and it cleared up her problems.

After watching the movie, I realized that autoimmune problems can affect our whole body including the brain. I researched it as well. So I went ahead and started the medication the doctor prescribed. Within a week, I felt much better.

I will also never forget the response of the pastor for missions and outreach had when I offered to resign my ministry as a home missionary if taking medication would be a controversy. I have always been aware of the stigma in some churches when it comes to Mental Health issues like depression. His response was, “Matt it is medical. You don’t need to resign.”

Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus wants us to come to him with everything. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, or any other mental health issue, his invitation is to come to him. 🙂

I wanted to share a bit of my story in case it helps someone. Also in honor of World Mental Heath Day I want to share a few videos.

First a Spoken Word Poem video by Racheal Stevens- Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.

And a music video by Jenn Johnson- You’re Gonna Be Okay.

Story Time- A Tiny X-Ray Tech Had to Catch Me

This is a picture of me when I was about 20 years old. I weighed about 200 pounds due to working out with weights a lot.

One day I started feeling sick and had a fever. It wasn’t the normal flu type sick, so I ended up going to the ER. The ER doctor called a surgeon who ordered x-rays of my stomach. A nurse came in with a wheelchair. She was about 5′ 2″ and weighed maybe 110 pounds. Being the young prideful man I was, I didn’t want a petite woman pushing me in a wheelchair. I told her I could walk.

I had to lay down, stand up, lay down and stand up for the x-rays. The last time I stood up, I began to faint. The poor x-ray tech who was also a petite woman had to try to catch me and guide me to the wheelchair.

When the nurse came back. I swallowed my pride and agreed to be pushed back to the ER room in the wheelchair. I ended up having my appendix out that night.

I am grateful that Jesus has all power. God created the universe. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus is more than able to catch us when we falter. I often think about what Jesus said in Matthew 11:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus has all power but he is gentle of heart. He invites us to come to him. If we struggle with depression, anxiety, chronic illness, addiction, family problems, or financial problems, he invites us to come to him. His invitation is for ALL. No one is excluded from his invitation.

The only thing preventing us from coming to Jesus is our own pride just like my pride got in the way in the ER that night.

Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂

Music Mondays- Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot

Life today is increasingly stressful. There are so many opposing forces pulling at us each day. As someone who lives with chronic illness and also the accompanying depression, how I start my day is SO important. Starting my day with Jesus in prayer and listening to worship music helps me to renew spiritually for the day. It also helps me to clear my mind of negative things.

There are songs that I love to listen to simply because they help me to focus on Jesus while I pray. They help me to simply experience his presence as I begin time with Jesus in prayer, bible reading, and meditating on scripture.

I wanted to share a song with you today that I love to listen to. Eternal Light by John Michael Talbot has the message of Jesus is the Eternal Light and the message of let’s live as children of the light.

The choral background voices make the song one of beauty and lifts me up into the presence of Jesus.

I hope this song blesses you as much as it blesses me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Journey Together While Blogging-Spotlight on a New Blogger

This week it dawned on me. It is unusual for me, so it sneaked up on me. I am healthy this week.

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I had the worst Fibromyalgia flare up I ever had the first week of September and then I had bronchitis for four weeks. This week I am breathing normally, well for someone with asthma, and my pain level is low only maybe a 3 out of 10. For me that is a healthy week. Healthy is kind of relative term when living with chronic illness. Nonetheless, I am calling this a HEALTHY week for me. 🙂

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I wrote a post in August about how looking to Jesus helps me while living with chronic illness. It was-Jesus Understands Pain. Mornings are so important for me. Some mornings my prayer and worship time is deep and meaningful Some mornings it is a time to barely manage a prayer of please help me through this day while I listen to worship music. Either way, Jesus sustains me and gives me strength.

A new blogger I follow is Bro Craig. He recently wrote a post that I think captures the experience of someone living with chronic illness. His post was In Between My Fears. It is an excellent post to read.

I appreciate other bloggers who are willing to share struggles with health or with depression/anxiety. I remember when I first started to share about my struggles with both. I wasn’t certain about the response. But I felt as someone who has been a Christian for many years and as a person in ministry, if I would be willing to share about living with chronic illness and the depression/anxiety that are symptoms of 2 of the chronic illnesses I have that perhaps it would help others. My hope is also to be a small part of lessening the stigma.

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One thought I have about this blogging community is that for those of us who blog, in a way we are walking with each other to home. In this life we are strangers in a foreign land looking forward to our eternal home in heaven as Hebrews 11 says:

“Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

But our journey in this life is a marathon not a sprint. We can journey together as fellow Christians who blog. Writing a blog is something I can do even on my down days with chronic illness. I appreciate my fellow bloggers and look forward to seeing more of your posts.

It is my privilege to share about new bloggers. Please check our Bro Craig’s blog.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Hope by Emily Brimlow

So I lift my hands to the God that guides me
To the one that finds me
Even in my darkest days he walks beside me
Singing songs of freedom
Always singing songs of life
And they’re leading me out of the darkness
And they’re bringing me into the light
Hey, He never said it would be easy
You know, He never said we would be safe

I love the lyrics to the song Hope by Emily Brimlow. I had not heard of her or her music until a few days ago when Carly of believing-beautifulcom.wordpress.com shared about it in a comment with me.

The song has an upbeat melody, but the lyrics are deeply profound. The message being that no matter what happens in this life, we have hope because of WHO we hope in not what we hope in.

Jesus has promised to always be with us and he never breaks his promises.

If we struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, Jesus is with us.

If we have illness, Jesus is with us.

If we have financial problems, Jesus is with us.

If we have doubt, confusion, Jesus is with us.

If we experience loss of a loved one, Jesus is with us.

We have HOPE in any situation because of WHOJESUS.

I hope this song blesses you like it did me. And please check our Carly’s blog. Thank you Carly for telling me about the song. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Breathe/What A Friend by Hillsong

The worship song Breathe has been on my mind but perhaps for a reason one would not normally think. I have asthma and part of that is getting bronchitis. When I get bronchitis, it is difficult to breathe and I lose sleep because I cough all night.

When the medicine starts doing its work and the bronchitis begins to clear up, it is such a freeing experience to feel- just simply breathing. When I can sleep through a night for the first time, it is moment of private rejoicing. Just to give an example from last week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights I slept for one to two hours.

I go through this once or twice a year. When my lungs begin to clear up, this song is very much on my mind.

I think about how Jesus gave us life when he created us, He did so by breathing into us. In Genesis 2 we read:

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Jesus is our source of life, healing, forgiveness, restoration, and much much more. I am keenly aware of that when the bronchitis begins to fade away.

Living with chronic illness such as Firbomylagia and also living with depression./anxiety as a result of chronic illness, I can choose to focus on the pain, the fatigue, and other symptoms, or I can look to Jesus. I can express things to him I express to no other person. He invites us to cast all of our cares on him because he cares for us. I literally have days that Jesus keeps me going.

Jesus is the friend who is closer than a brother. He is our friend who out of love, died for us and our sins.

Whatever you are going through at this time in your life, please stop, take a moment, and listen to this song. Let it encourage you. Let it help you come into the presence of Jesus and cast all of your cares on him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.