Music Mondays- Faithful by Sarah Reeves

Even when I cannot see, You are moving
Even when I cannot hear, You are singing over me
Even when I can’t hold on, You won’t let me go
You are faithful, You are faithful

I love the lyrics to Faithful by Sarah Reeves. So many times in my life I thought I could not hold on, but Jesus never lets go of us. He is always with us. He will never leave us.

Singing over me? Where do we get that from? In Zephaniah 3 we read:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing”

Jesus rejoices over us with singing. Have you ever seen a mother sing over her child? God is our father who sings over us. That is how precious we are to God.

When we can’t see the way out of a situation, a problem, a trial, God is at work. He knows the outcome because he is there and with us now at the same time. I experienced that recently. Last summer was dismal for me and put me behind financially, but God was at work. First my dear Vietnamese friends helped their old teacher. Then three weeks ago I received an extra missionary support check. Last week I received anonymous letters with money. Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

God is faithful. He is faithful even when we are not. Whatever we face in life, he is with us.

Struggle with depression/anxiety? Jesus is there for you.

Struggle with chronic illness? Jesus is there for you/

Financial problems? Jesus is there for you.

Uncertain about the future? Jesus knows your future and is already there. He is there for you now and in your future at the same time.

In the worst moment we can think of which is death, Jesus will be there for us waiting to welcome us into heaven if we have accepted him as our Savior.

He is faithful!!

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Chronic Illness and Gratitude?

In my recent Q and A, Notes from a Sycamore Tree at My9.home.blog asked- Praising God even when you are in physical pain – How do you do that ?

I want to share more about being grateful while living with chronic illness and also living with depression. It starts with when I was sick and dying-but I didn’t die because I am blogging now- and a lesson I learned during that time.

I found that if I asked why me, that led to self pity. I had days that I would lay in bed depressed because I was sick and even in the months of recovery. During those days I was stuck in the whys. Why did this happen to when I was studying for the ministry? Why is my life in such a mess? why? why? The why me questions always led me down spiraling down.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I started to ask what questions like- What do you want me to do Lord? What will you do through this Lord? I found when I asked what questions, my focus was on Jesus not my circumstances.

It is a daily choice, sometimes hourly, to focus on Jesus. I still have days that I get down. I also don’t want to paint an all is rosy picture. Life is not easy when living with a chronic illness or illnesses such as in my case. I also want to be real about the fact that due to chronic illness, a symptom that could be a struggle is clinical depression.

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

So I want to share a list of things I am grateful for that are because of having chronic illness:

1- By sharing about chronic illness and depression/anxiety in my blog, my blog has grown a lot. I am thankful God comforts others through my blog.

2- Living with chronic illness for over 25 years has given me empathy that helps me to relate with my refugee friends who have suffered in life.

3- I am much more observant with other people. For example, because of having clinical depression, I have watched videos on youtube and read articles. Though I have not been suicidal, I learned about the semi colon tattoo.. That opened up a friendship with a young woman who has that tattoo.

4- I have been able to experience the Lord in ways I never did before I had chronic illness such as seeing him come through for me time after time.

The main thing for me is remembering this life is temporary whether we have it easy in this life or have struggles in this life, it is all temporary. There are a few things that helped me:

1- Starting my day by listening to worship music and praying

2- Confiding in people I know I can trust.

3- Being open and honest with my doctor about all symptoms.

4-Thanking God even when I don’t feel thankful because of depression. On the days I feel numb, I thank him for things anyway. I am honest when I do so. I usually say something like-God I don’t feel it right now but thank you for______..

5- Keeping my mind active by reading the bible, reading other bloggers, reading books, practicing Spanish, and even doing online crossword puzzles.

Last but not least of the reasons to praise God even though life is difficult- He is worthy of our praise. He deserves our gratitude. Everything we have is because of him. The air we breathe, the food we eat, our salvation, EVERYTHING we have is because of him.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Rest Sweet Rest

Yesterday afternoon I was tired as in FATIGUED. I finished teaching my afternoon Citizenship class at 3pm and did not need to be at the college until 7pm. So instead of going to a coffee shop, I came home.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I turned on my laptop, logged into youtube, and started a play list of some of my favorite worship songs. I sat back in my chair and listened to songs like It Is Well by Kristene Di Marco and So Will I by Hillsong and more.I just sat in my chair listening to worship songs for a few hours dozing off here and there for brief periods of 10 or 15 minutes of sleep. It was SO refreshing.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Side note- my furniture is not this fancy 🙂

As someone who lives with chronic illness, I value rest when I can get it. Physical rest has spiritual, mental, and emotional benefits.

God knows we need rest. Elijah was a great prophet, so much so that he did not die but was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Yet Elijah had his moments such as when he was running for his life, got tired and feel asleep under a tree. The Angel of the Lord came to him woke up up, fed him. But look what happened after he ate: We see it in 1st Kings 19:

“All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”  He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.”

After he ate and drank, he lay down again. In other words- He went back to sleep. The Angel of the Lord came back and fed him again.

The past five years as chronic illness has come more the the forefront in my life, I have come to value rest more and more. I have learned the importance of taking care of of the physical, so it does not interfere with my ministry.

So if you are feeling frazzled, weary, or overwhelmed. try seeking out time to rest in the presence of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wonderful Weekend, BUT, Then Monday Came

It was a wonderful weekend of visiting people. teaching people, going to church, and lunches. Sunday evening I had plans for Monday morning to get up and get some things done. I had Monday morning off due to fall break at the school where my morning class meets. I planned to go to an In Service, get started on some writing, and run some errands. But then reality interrupted.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I began the taper down part of my Prednisone prescription Sunday. I had a tapering dosage of 5 days of 3 tablets, 5 days of 2 tablets and 5 days of 1 tablets. 3 tablets is like rocket fuel at time. Tapering down can sometimes mean a let down as far as energy, which for a Spoonie, can lead to more than just feeling tired.

The term Spoonie comes from a young woman who used spoons as an example to explain limited energy while living with chronic illness. You can click on the highlighted Spoonie to read her article.

So Monday I woke up or should I say my eyes opened temporarily. I was down for the count. I had slept 11 hours and was still exhausted. I ended up staying in bed until 11am. When I finally got out of bed, I just sat for quite a while.

I turned on some worship music and gave what was left of the day to Jesus. I checked my blog, checked out post by other bloggers, and drank some coffee.

I prayed over my evening class and went to the college. In my evening class, I have a young woman who is in a wheelchair due to a condition similar to Cerebral Palsy. She has such joy just being able to be in a class. She is a Christian. She gave her presentation and did well. It is my privilege to help her with accommodations she needs to be in class.

A blogger I follow, retrospectivelily.com, wrote about her experience getting accommodations in college for her disability. The post is Disability Chat. Each evening I see my student in class, Lily’s article comes to mind.

So Monday I may not have accomplished much, but I was grateful to be there for my students in the evening. Tuesday was better. Hopefully today will be better still. My post is not much of an inspiration today, but I am mindful of a quote Big Sky Buckeye shared by Charles Kingsley:

Make it a rule, and pray to God to help you to keep it, never to lie down at night without being able to say, “I have made at least one human being a little wiser, a little happier, or a little better this day.”

Monday may have been a wash for most of the day for me, but at least I made the young woman in class a little happier, wiser, and better that day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Gives Confirmation

A little over a year go, I began to share in my blog about living with depression and anxiety which for me were symptoms of living with chronic illness. It felt a bit risky at the time, but I found that many people responded to my posts whether through comments, likes etc.

Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

Yesterday a woman I respect a great deal for her work with children who have been traumatized, responded to me sharing a few posts on her Facebook Wall. She had given me permission. I let her know that I share from a Christian perspective. She responded that we should seek to bring Christ into mental health issues. After I posted a few links on her Facebook wall:

Jesus Understands Trauma

World Mental Health Day-October 10

She responded with this message:

“Matt, Thank you for sharing these blogs. I pray others read it as you candidly shared your personal experience in a very relatable way. We are all searching to be heard & understood. Especially searching for our deepest desire: Jesus. Some might not believe or understand His healing power & gift of Salvation is waiting for them in the most deepest hurts, mental health, medical problems & any sin. He indeed experienced trauma. Stories like yours lead people to the Lord because you spoke biblical truth & love in despite how hurtful your trauma was you looked Him & found healing & peace.”

To receive such a message from a woman who is a Christian and also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meant a lot to me. I felt it gave me confirmation to continue to share.

My desire is to share with others the comfort Jesus has given me whether it is regarding depression/anxiety or about living with chronic illness. I always think about the truth of 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.”

Her message was confirmation for me to continue to share about how God has helped and is helping me to press on with my ministry and life living with chronic illness and also with depression/anxiety. After my day Friday with friends, and also with the extra support from my home church, seeing my colleagues message Saturday, I feel God is telling me to continue.

On another note, a few of my followers on this blog recently went to my short stories blog- Encounters with the Ancients. I am thinking about making one of my short stories into a book. I would like HONEST feedback from my followers on this blog. I would like to ask you to read a story I wrote a year and a half ago- Jessica’s Encounter at the Harbor Coffee Shop.. What I want HONEST feedback about is if a book version would be of interest.

Thank you for reading. God bless.

Here We Go Again

I was feeling good after finishing a 15 day treatment of Prednisone for bronchitis. I thought okay the coast is clear for a while. I started to feel a little of something starting up and went to the doctor in hopes of changing my asthma medicine to prevent problems. I got there and, well, something was noticed.

This is how I normally look. I tend to keep my tan on my face all year. I get that from my father who always had a tanned face. The problem with that is sometimes what would be obvious for other people is not so easily noticed on me. But Monday when I went to the doctor I looked like this.

I had a pink rash on my nose and cheeks. The PA didn’t notice until she looked more closely because it doesn’t show as much on me. When she looked closer she said, :”That is a sign of inflammation.” So instead of walking out with a prescription for a different inhaler, I walked out with a prescription for 15 more days of Prednisone. Yippee.

So here we go again. By the time I finish this 15 days, it will total to 35 days out of 40.

But Jesus is giving me strength. I have not missed teaching a class the whole time. I have been able to also be there for my weekend groups,. visit people in their homes, so in other words- Jesus has given me the strength to keep going with teaching and ministry.

Fortunately, Thursday and Friday will be fall break for my morning class, so I can sleep in, get more rest, and be ready to go. I hope. Anyone living with chronic illness can tell you that one never knows how one will be day to day.

The one thing I know for sure is that Jesus is with me to give me strength. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

September Was Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month/October- Lupus Awareness Month

September was rheumatic disease awareness month. That covers a range of diseases such as lupus, forms or arthritis and more. October is Lupus Awareness Month.

This is an issue close to my heart due to living with chronic illness myself. I draw strength from God to face chronic illness. I can’t imagine facing chronic illness without my relationship with Jesus who gives me strength.

The most difficult things for me in living with chronic illness are the pain and fatigue. I think fatigue is the worst. I have lived with pain for over 25 years. I can kind of ignore unless it is a real bad day. But fatigue means even after sleeping 7 or more hours, I am still fatigued and it lingers through the whole day. Maybe that is why I love coffee 🙂

Because these awareness months, I want to share a post with you from a fellow blogger who lives with Lupus and a video by a young lady who lives with Psoriatic Arthritis.

Savannah shared a post yesterday in her blog One Mountain At A Time at savannahwall.wordpress.com about her experience living with Lupus. The post is If You Think You’re Tired of Listening to People Talk About Their Chronic Pain, Imagine How Tired They Are of Living With It. It gives a lot of insight about living with Lupus.

Kristen is a young woman who is living with Psoriatic Arthritis. She shared a video a few weeks ago on youtube about 5 Things Chronic Illness Taught Her. She is a young woman who faces life with a chronic illness drawing strength from her faith and relationship with Jesus. Her video gives insight into what it is like living with a form of arthritis.

I wanted to share the stories of these two young women in honor of Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month. It is an issue near and dear to my heart.

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.

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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. 🙂

Photo by Vishnu R Nair on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

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.