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.

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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.

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.

Chronic Illness Warrior Recognition

Having lived with chronic illness for over 25 years, I have an admiration for others who live with chronic illnesses or who support those who do. Today I want to start a Chronic Illness Warrior Recognition Award for those who live with one or support a loved one who has a chronic illness or condition. Please check out the blogs of the five nominees if you don’t already follow them. I have identified the illness/condition each of them lives with.

The rules are simple- Acknowledge the person who nominated you, ask how ever many questions you want, and nominate others. I will answer the questions I am asking first.

For me living with chronic illness the worst parts are the constant fatigue and pain. I have Fibromyalgia, Celiacs and a few other issues. I am being monitored for other possibilities. The people I am recognizing today deal with other chronic illnesses.

My faith in Jesus helps me keep going. I have days that I literally ask him to carry me through the day.

I think the main thing I wish people would understand is that yes I have bad days and cancel plans, but I still like to be invited because I can’t plan on when I have good days or bad days.

When I have good days, I love to visit friends, go to the park, meet friends in coffee shops.

I am not sure I have any great advice other than to be careful what you eat, rest when you need to, and don’t give up. My main advice is to seek Jesus.

As anyone living with a chronic illness can tell you, there are days that I don’t have much energy at all and simple watching TV is about all I accomplish. I love to watch shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol and Amazing Race. I tend to save them up to be able to binge watch on bad days.

Questions for you:

1- What is your of your loved one’s chronic illness/condition and its symptoms?

2- What do you wish others would understand about your life with chronic illness?

3- What helps you or your loved one keep going in life?

4- What do you enjoy doing on your good days?

5- What advice would you give to someone else living with your or your loved one’s chronic illness?

6- What books, movies, TV programs do you enjoy?

My Nominees are:

Lily of Retrospective Lily at retrospectivelily.com. She has Friedreich’s Ataxia. She recently wrote about exercise and her disablity.

Viola of Epilepsy Awareness at violatogon.wordpress.com. Viola lives with Epilesy.

Parkinsons Care at parkinsonscaregivernet.wordpress.com. She shares about being a caregiver for a loved one with Parkinsons,

Poets Afterthought at poeticjourney521.com. She lives with Sickle Cell Anemia and shared a post about her experience with sickle cell.

Vivian of God’s Whispers of Truth at godswhispersoftruth.wordpress.com. She has been living with a Traumatic Brain Injury which she shared about in her My Story.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Restores

When I have my annual physical, there is one thing I am most concerned about. The doctor has more than one thing he wants to check, but I have one priority foremost in my mind. I want to make sure my thyroid level is okay.

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If I need prescriptions refilled, the one I make sure I have is my thyroid pill. Why?

I never want to go through what I went through with losing memory ever again. It was more than that. People who met me for the first time remembered me as the guy who talked slow. I couldn’t communicate well.

God restored me, my memory, and my ability to communicate to the point that I can speak three languages now and also can greet people in thirty languages.

God restores. Peter wrote about it in 1 Peter 5:

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast”

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I watched as God restored a man from my church. He was in a terrible car accident and had a traumatic brain injury. When he was in the hospital. I felt led to go pray with his wife and family and let them know whatever was happening that day was a bump in the road. We prayed. Many people prayed for him during the weeks that followed. Now he is back to work, ushers at church, and fully engaged with his family.

Because of my experience when I was sick. I have a special empathy and respect for people trying to fight their way back from a brain injury. One such person is a blogger I follow.. You can read her story at My Story. Her blog is godswhispersoftruth.wordpress.com. She is a sister in Christ who we can pray for.

Our God is a God who restores. He restored me, so I pray for others to be restored.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Living for Jesus While Living with a Chronic Illness

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. “

Paul wrote about having a thorn in his flesh and asking the Lord to remove it in 2 Corinthians 12 and God’s response was that his grace was sufficient for him. There has been much speculation regarding what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was, but I won’t get into that in this post. My focus is on God’s grace being sufficient.

Anyone living with a chronic illness understands what it is like to want a cure, to be healed. Thankfully with modern medicine chronic conditions can be managed or helped somewhat, but not cured. There is no cure for many chronic illnesses.

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I know what it is like to live with pain and being grateful for the days with less pain. I know what it is like to live with fatigue the kind that; as wonderful as it is. coffee does not take away.

Paul wrote something else while living with his chronic condition in Philippians 3:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”

Pressing on is not easy but so worth it. By pressing on with Jesus, we experience so many joys along the way such as seeing lives change, seeing people come to know Jesus, seeing God at work.

Pressing on while living with a chronic illness and depending on God for daily, sometimes hourly, strength is something I respect in others due to experiencing it myself.

One of my fellow bloggers has a rare genetic condition called
Friedreich’s Ataxia which causes her to need a wheelchair. However, she presses on to serve Jesus. Her name is Lily. You can read about her story in strength is not always literal. Her blog is retrospectivelily.com.

As my theme song for this week after Easter, Because He Lives, says, “Because he lives I can face tomorrow” Anyone living with a chronic illness who lives to serve Jesus like Lily does has a perspective that will encourage us to press on.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Doctor- ‘You are now a healthy man’ Reaction-‘What Do I Do Now?”

It was in April 1996 that I heard these words from my doctor, “Matt, you are now a healthy man. It’s a miracle you didn’t die.”

So the natural first reaction is:

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Jump for Joy, right?

Well I did celebrate at first. Who wouldn’t after going through what I went through from 1993 to that day in April 1996. The tests, the doctors appointments, the symptoms, the complete changing of my life would all be behind me.

But then another thought hit me, “Oh No!!!! What do I do now?”

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I had a similar reaction to the character Stella Abbott had in the new show Life Sentence. She had cancer for eight years and then she found out she was cured after getting married thinking it would only be for six months or so until she died. She had the “Oh No!!! Now what do I do” reaction.

I didn’t have cancer. It was autoimmune issue number 2 for me. First it was asthma. The second? Nothing serious unless it is not diagnosed until it is too late (in my case it almost was) my thyroid stopped working. By the time they found it, I was about to go into heart, liver, and kidney failure. I had lost memory. I had left the school where I was studying for the ministry in April 1994. When I came back to my home city, I thought it was to die because of the decline I was experiencing. I was working part-time delivering pizza just to scratch out almost survival living. I had left everything behind and then came those words, “Matt you are now a healthy man.”

An illness can be an intrusive interruption of life. When we are sick for a prolonged period of time, no matter what the illness is, and then hear we will be okay, yes there is a relief, but there is also the rebuilding of one’s life to start on. For me it meant transferring to a school in a city one hour away, continuing to work, and trusting God to make sense of it all for me as I started to pick up the pieces with his help.

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I was literally trusting in the truth of what is written in Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

There were the one hour drives to class, four hours of being in class, and one hour drives back home. There were different tries of new jobs. It was through my first three trips to Romania that God led me to teach ESL, but that is a story for another day.

I thank God for the people he put in my life during that time. One such friend passed away a few years ago and is with the Lord now. Joel and his wife Marlys were a huge blessing. One day my car broke down as I was driving to my class. I called Joel hoping to get a ride back to my city. He came and towed my car back to my city. There were others God put in my life too, but if I list them all the post will be way too long.

Here is the ‘plot twist’ so to speak in the story of my life. I am not happy I went through those years; one year getting sick, two years being sick, one year recovering, two more years to finish my education, but I am grateful for what those years did for me. Going through suffering, the doubt, and regrouping not knowing how it would work out, has given me a lot of empathy for my refugee and immigrant friends God has called me to help. I hope to be as good of a friend to them as Joel and Marlys were to me.

If you are experiencing an “Oh no” moment, hang on because God has a hold of you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Soap Opera Like Story Reveals That God Sees Us

Think soap operas or other TV dramas have bizarre plots? Consider some found in the bible.

Imagine the plight of a woman who is pregnant by her employer having to leave her home out of fear for herself and her unborn child because of being mistreated by her employer’s wife whose idea it was in the first place for her husband to make the woman become pregnant. Sounds like a soap opera or telenovela, but it actually happened and involved people we admire in the bible.

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Abraham and Sarah were not able to have a child and grew tired of waiting for God to fulfill his promise of a son, so Sarah came up with the idea of Abraham sleeping with Sarah’s servant Hagar. Hagar got pregnant, but instead of being grateful, Sarah became jealous and mistreated her. To make matters worse, Abraham consented to letting Sarah treat Hagar however she wished. Really sounds like a soap opera now.

It is recorded in Genesis 16.

Hagar ran away, but God came to her through the Angel of the Lord and promised to greatly increase her descendants. In response, Hagar called God, El Roi– The God who sees. It is the only time in the bible this title is used. It was used in a time of desperation for a pregnant woman. God saw her.

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Yes God said some unflattering things about her soon to be born son such as he would be a wild donkey of a man always fighting, but that is my focus here.

The point of this post is that God sees us. When we are mistreated by others, God sees us. If we struggle with chronic illness, depression, anxiety, family drama, or any difficult circumstance, God see us.

Do you have struggles? God Sees You.

God See Us.  🙂

We are never overlooked, God sees us.

 

 

 

 

Music Mondays- Need You Now by Plumb

“How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.”

I love the lyrics to the chorus for Need You Now by Plumb. Life isn’t always easy and in fact can be a struggle for many reasons. These lyrics describe how I have felt at times looking to God in the midst of a difficult time.

For me the past several years it has been about going to doctors in search of answers and relief. It has also been about seeking to serve Jesus by sharing his love at times wondering how I was going to make it.

Jesus promised something in John 16:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Notice before the promise he makes to us, he says- “In this world you will have trouble.” Coming to faith in Jesus and following him is not a wave of a magic wand and all troubles disappear. We continue to have troubles. The difference is the encouragement and promise Jesus made.

He said to take heart because he has overcome the world. That is the reason we can take heart in any situation-Jesus is greater than any situation.

So when, not if, we have struggles such as illness, financial, family, loss, whatever problem, he is greater than our problem and he has promised to always be with us in Matthew 28:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We will have times that we can only cry out to ask God to please take something off our shoulders, but we need to trust him about whether is is best to lift it off our shoulders or to give us the strength to continue with the burden. It is the reality of living for Jesus in this life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.