For the one fighting chronic illness, life can be hard.
Even normal, daily activities can often seem like you’re attempting to climb a mountain but can never quite reach the top.
I understand, for I have battled chronic migraines for most of my life.
When you have chronic pain or illness you can feel as if you were walking down a road and you were suddenly attacked by robbers that stole something very precious from you. You fought them but you kept being knocked down until you didn’t have any more strength to fight. The precious thing stolen from chronic pain warriors is their time.
Time with their loved ones. Time doing what they love to do. Time that they should be living free of pain.
While battling my chronic migraine and fatigue, I often had to cancel meetings with friends or family. I had to stop doing what I wanted to do because of the pain. One day a friend asked me if she was upsetting me and that’s why I had kept cancelling our plans to get together.
I remember a new realization hitting me. How must the family and friends of those battling chronic illness feel?
While I processed this, I came up with just a few things that I want you to understand if you love someone who fights chronic pain and illness. These are just four things that your chronically ill loved one really wants you to know. Four things I want to remind my family and friends.
“I’m doing my best.”
Chronic pain can be exhausting. We really are trying to be normal and keep smiling through it, but sometimes…sometimes it’s too much. I know it can seem like we get irritated more quickly and we really are sorry for those times. We want to do better, to conquer the pain more than the last time. But for now, please remember that we are doing our very best.
“I don’t mean to be unreliable.”
If you knew me before my chronic illness, you would know that I did not cancel plans unless there was an emergency. I have a strong sense of reliability and I have always wanted to be someone you could count on.
It’s not easy for me to make plans and cancel them so often. It’s not easy for any of us who fight this. We don’t mean to come across as unreliable. We don’t mean to disappoint you. Please, remember how very much we want to spend time with you and follow through with our plans. But sometimes…sometimes we know that our bodies just need to rest.
“Just because I don’t look sick, doesn’t mean I’m not sick.”
You may see me at the mall laughing with friends or at work talking to customers with a smile on my face. And on the outside I may look just as healthy as anyone else. But just because I don’t look sick, doesn’t mean that I’m not sick.
Please, remember that we can be sick and still smile, so don’t push us to prove how sick we are. Please, be gentle and remember that I have more sick days than I do healthy days, but I may never tell you that.
“Remember that I always love you.”
I may cancel plans and I may not text you or call you as often as I would like. I may forget to reply to your messages for weeks at a time. I may forget to tell you sometimes how much you mean to me. But please, always remember how very much I do love you.
When we’re fighting these battles against our own bodies, we can become so distracted, but we do know…we know how hard it is on you too. We are so grateful for the way you stand beside us through it all and always try to help.
And we love you. To all my family and friends, I love you so much.
Don’t ever doubt our love for you.
To the one who wonders if she's missing out:
Growing up isn't easy and life...life can feel so rushed in this world that never stops. This world that pushes you to constantly know what you're doing next and where you're going from here.
But it can all feel just a little much sometimes, can't it?
It can feel as if you're trying to catch your breath above waves that keep coming. You can never quite get above them.
And all the while social media screams at you what you should and should not be doing. What your life should and should not look like. What their lives look like and how great everything seems to be going for them.
You feel as if you're missing out on all the things you're supposed to be doing. Maybe even missing out on who you're supposed to be.
If I could sit and have coffee with you today, I would look into your eyes and assure you...the girl who trusts God with her future never misses out on what He has planned for her.
It can be so hard to be still, right? To just pause and wait on Him and trust in what you can't see. Especially when the world never stops and doesn't think you should either.
It is brave to be still. It is brave to wait on Him. It is brave to pause and realize that life isn't meant to be lived from one activity to the next. Life is meant to be lived from one moment of trust in Him to the next.
So yes, you may feel just slightly lonely today as you wonder if you've missed out on all the wonderful things that your friends are doing. You may feel as if you've missed out on some important things according to the world.
But the important things God has for you will never, ever miss you.
That is one thing in this crazy world that you never have to worry about. For He assures you that He has good and perfect plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11) and that no matter what His plans for you will come to pass. (Psalm 138:8 ESV)
So maybe today it's okay if you feel a little left out and a little like you're missing out. Because no matter what you feel, you know that He is working it all out in the stillness and the waiting.
Your time is coming too.
To the one who feels too much:
Perhaps you've been told that you're being dramatic or attention-seeking. Perhaps you've felt misunderstood...for it is sometimes hard for you to even understand.
Perhaps you've felt like you are too much because you feel too much. Too much for the people in your life. Too much for others to handle. Too much for everything you wish you were.
Perhaps they've told you that you should just bury it inside and stop being so "immature" about the things that hurt you.
And maybe...just maybe you've said these things to yourself too.
You've convinced yourself that you can be just a little too passionate or a little too excited. You've decided that you feel pain too deeply and you must avoid it all costs because the little things hurt you more than you wish to admit and it can all be just a little too much.
And somewhere in all of it is the question, "Am I too much?"
Just because you feel too much does not mean that you are too much. Just because your feelings run deeper than others does not mean that you are abnormal.
Yes, you may feel too much at times and sometimes it all may seem like too much. But dear soul, you are a special kind of person. A genuine, compassionate one who brings so much color to this world.
Your feelings may seem to overwhelm you at times and you may have wondered why you can't just be "normal" and more like the others. This is okay.
It's okay to feel deeply. It's okay to embrace all these things you're feeling. God has given you these feelings for a reason. He has chosen you to have this soft heart for a purpose. When He created you He made you fearfully and wonderfully and to Him...you're never, ever too much.
He is there with you through every feeling, through all of the "too much." His heart is for you and He doesn't walk out when your heart breaks over what they may tell you are "little things."
Don't hide who you are for them, brave one. Embrace who He has made you. So yes, you feel too much at times. And yes, at times you can be overwhelmed with the weight of the emotions that crash into your soul all at once.
Don't hide them and push them aside. Bring them to Him, won't you? Bring every deep feeling--the good and the bad--to the foot of His cross. And look for the people He has put in your life who will embrace you for who you are and remind you how much He cares about every emotion you feel.
Yes, sweet soul, allow yourself to be real and genuine and feel even when it's hard. For it is okay.
And if at times it becomes too much and you forget...remind yourself that your feelings and all of this "too much" doesn't control you. You are a child of God and you are His no matter what. No emotions can change that.
You are a priceless treasure in this world that rarely takes the time to feel so deeply. So breathe in and out. You are going to be okay. Your future is controlled by the One who knows every emotion raging in your soul. Rest in Him.
Keep on being "too much" when they tell you that you shouldn't feel so deeply. For you are not too much.
This world needs that big heart of yours.
It is brave to feel. Keep being brave.
Hi friends! My dear, sweet friend, Beth just released her second book she titled: Jesus, You Make the Darkness Tremble. I am so excited for her and hope that you will join me in celebrating her and this brand new book that I'm sure will bless many! For this blog tour, I'm going to share a little about her book and a short interview we put together for you! Let's go...
There is so much darkness in the world...from failed relationships to suicide and school shootings. But while it may seem we're drowning in darkness, there is still Hope. And that Hope is in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, You Make the Darkness Tremble touches on many subjects...such as relationships, anxiety, depression, and judging.
This book shows how every generation, young and old, can rise up and get back to being honorable men and women of God. It shows how, with Jesus, we can kick the devil back to where he came from.
Are you ready to start making some darkness tremble? Are you ready to make it vanish?
Yes? Then let's go.
Interview with Beth Jane:
Bella: What was the most challenging part of your journey with this book?
Beth: Definitely the attacks I received from the enemy. He came very hard at me when I got serious about this book. If it wasn't for God...I seriously wouldn't be alive today. But thankfully God is faithful when He calls you to something. He is bigger than anything the devil can bring against us. I'm free today because of Him!
Bella: What inspired this book the most?
Beth: Well I guess the answer would be this: I was pressed by God to write something for all generations, and what prompted this calling was the issues that were around me....like failed relationships, ect. All and all the world is dark, and God prompted me to tell about His answers to these dark situations!
Bella: Why is this book important to you?
Beth: Because God called me to it. It's a most special thing He called me to. It's like His and my own special message. And He's taught me lots of lessons. It's been amazing!
Bella: If readers only take away one thing from this book, what do you want it to be?
Beth: Prompt them to live the royal lives they have in Jesus, forsaking the world.
Bella: If you could invent any ice cream flavor, what would it be? :)
Beth: Hmm.....I feel like it would be a candy flavor.... but that would be nasty after a few bites, lol!
Bella: Thanks so much, Beth! So proud of you and your new book! You're amazing <3
Beth (18) is an indie author who loves Jesus and seeks to share Jesus through her writing! Jesus, You Make the Darkness Tremble, is her second published book, all the Glory to God! You can keep up with her on her Instagram: @bethjane_author, or on her blogs, bethere4ualways.blogspot.com and thisredeemedgirl16.blogspot.com, and her YouTube channel,Wholeheartedly Abandoned! God Bless you all!!!
Walking into Wal-Mart the other day, I was met by an over-abundance of yellow packaging holding all the notebooks, pencils, erasers, and back-to-school accessories you could imagine.
All of it being a bright reminder that we're officially at that season of the year again.
Back to school season!
I'm not entirely sure where the summer went, but with the middle of August here already, we'll be entering fall before we know it.
So in honor of this season of our year, I've put together a post of just a handful of things I want those of you who are going back to school, to remember. Whether you're homeschooled (like I was!), or private school, or public school, I hope this post helps you prepare almost as much as all those yellow tubs full of notebooks and pencils at Wal-Mart do.
1. Enjoy every season. When I look back on my school years, I can't believe how quickly they went by. While living them they didn't always feel like they were going fast, but looking back it's hard to believe how long it's been since I turned the tassel on my graduation cap.
Life goes fast, so cherish every season you are in right now. At the moment, school may be your season. Maybe you're close to graduation or maybe you still have a few years left, but while you're in this season, embrace it. Don't wish it away.
2. Give everything your best. Don't get to the end of this school year, look back, and regret that you held anything back because you did less than your best. Work so that at the end of the school year you can look back and know that you gave it your best.
Colossians 3:23 says: "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." This applies to schoolwork too!
3. Be willing to offer help. Do you see another student struggling with something that you're good at? Jump in and help them this year. If you're homeschooled, do you have a sibling struggling, or someone in your co-op group? If you're in a private or public school, pay attention to the other students in your class.
Look for ways that you can reach out and help others this school year.
4. Keep Jesus first. I'm about to tell you something very contrary to what the world says, and I'm okay with that. Your relationship with Jesus and staying in His Word is so much more important than any school work or education you are receiving.
Something my mom used to tell me in homeschool was that if all we did in school one day was complete our Bible lessons, then we had at least completed what was most important.
This is definitely not your excuse to goof off and not get school done or to give only ten percent in your studies. But what I am saying is this, and it's very important: If you allow education and school work to take first place in your day over your relationship with Jesus, then it has become an idol. This goes for anything in your life taking first place over Jesus.
If you have to get up earlier or cut out other things in your life to get your Bible time and school work done in one day, then do it. But make time to spend with Jesus before anything else.
Happy back-to-school! Comment below and let me know which of you are going back to school this year. :)
I have never been good at taking medicine.
Coming from someone who has endured chronic migraine for the majority of her life and should be used to taking medicine by now, I am known to wait until my pain is so bad I can't stand it before I face my fear of swallowing a pain pill.
Yet there are some medicines that seem easier to swallow than others. And I'm not talking about Tylenol or Advil.
There is "medicine" that we use for the pains in our life that we sometimes don't even realize we're using. Addictions we form to painkillers that we wouldn't even admit we're taking sometimes.
Perhaps your medicine is pride. You use it to show everyone around you what a good job you're doing and receive all the compliments that affirm you. You've used it to try to heal the pain of insecurity lurking underneath the shadows in your heart.
Perhaps your medicine is romance. You use it to go from one romantic relationship to the next, trying to prove that you are worthy of love. You've used it to try to heal the pain you felt when someone made you feel unlovable or worthless.
Perhaps your medicine is addiction to what the world offers. You become addicted to things that don't even seem all that bad sometimes, maybe shopping or eating or sports or social media. Or maybe it's addictions you know are bad, but can't seem to stop. But you just keep clinging to whatever will fill the ache in your soul for a little while.
Perhaps your medicine is anger. You use it to block out all of the hurt that you've felt from the betrayals, disappointments, and changes that life brings to each of us. You use it to put up bars around your heart that you think will somehow keep the pain away.
The list of medicines that we use could go on and on. But here's the thing about these medicines that their labels don't tell you:
They may numb your pain for a short while, but they can never heal you in all the ways you really need healed.
The people of Israel made the same mistakes. They thought they had found things that could satisfy them more than God. They continually chased after idols and worldly things that only left them more empty than when they started. God said this about it:
"For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13)
Broken cisterns that can hold no water? Surely you must know this feeling.
When we turn to all of the "medicines" of this world to numb the pain in our hearts, it's like we're pouring into buckets that are so filled with holes, the water pours out almost as quickly as we're pouring in. And we're left empty. Emptier than before.
So what then? What cisterns could possibly be sturdy enough to hold all of the ache in our hearts and turn it into something beautiful? What "medicine" could actually cure the wounds instead of just mask them?
There is only One who can truly do all of those things.
"For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." (Psalm 107:9)
"And Jesus said to them, 'I am the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)
Only when you pour all of your hurts and the ache in your soul into Jesus will you receive a healing that satisfies and covers every wound left in your heart.
None of the broken cisterns we try to fill up can satisfy us the way Jesus Christ can. None of our medicines of the world can heal us the way Jesus Christ can.
So run to Him. Throw everything you have into Him. Give Him all of the hurts and the sorrows and the sins and let Him carry it.
What is your medicine today? Is it a broken cistern...or is it Jesus?
When I was a little girl, I loved to watch the stars.
Perhaps it was because I was afraid of the dark, but then what little girl isn’t? The stars always made the darkness feel a little bit more bearable. They were like flashlights from heaven, shining a little bit of light into my world when the sun was resting and the sky was dark.
Some days the stars would shine brighter than I’d ever seen them shine before. And some days the stars would barely shine at all, hidden beneath clouds that blocked my view of them. But as a little girl, I knew to just wait, wait until the next night because then the stars would shine just as bright as ever.
If you don’t mind some old-fashioned honesty, I’ll let you know a secret: sometimes I’m still afraid of the dark.
No, not the dark of nighttime or the dark rooms I used to hesitate walking into when I was little. Instead, I now fear a different kind of darkness — one that settles around me a little bit tighter with every broken dream, with every crushed plan, every deep wound. When my sickness holds me back from life, I feel the darkness wrap tighter. When relationships aren’t as easy as I once thought they would be, the darkness becomes thick. And sometimes it is hard to understand the purpose of this darkness.
Have you felt this way too?
It was a complete honor to have my words shared on (in)courage today. I would love for you to read them and let me know what you think. What ways do you look for the stars in your life, friends?
And sign up here to receive free notes from (in)courage, delivered daily to your inbox!
I don't know about you, but I love shopping online. After all, who doesn't?
It is so much fun to order something and then a few days later open up your mailbox to find a box addressed to you. Just me? Perhaps it has to do with my love for mail. But that is besides the point.
Regardless, there are some days I get frustrated with online shopping. I remember one time I needed a t-shirt by a certain date. I ordered my size online and when it arrived, I excitedly tore into the package. But the size was definitely not what I had ordered. Frustrated, I rushed to call the online store and get the size issue sorted out, but the correct size wouldn't come by the day I needed it.
Sometimes I think we treat prayer a little bit like this.
We pray for what we want, then when the answer to our prayer comes and it's not at all what we asked for, we become frustrated and wonder what the whole point of praying was.
When we treat prayer like this, we lose sight of what prayer really is.
I remember a time I prayed for something I really wanted. I prayed hard and consistently. And the answer God gave me was nothing at all what I had prayed for. In fact, it was the total opposite of what I prayed for. Why? It didn't make sense.
And this makes me ask myself: What is the purpose of prayer?
I think to answer this question we must first ask two follow-up questions.
Is it possible to change God's mind through prayer?
And if it isn't possible to change God's mind through prayer, what is the point in praying?
I think if we can answer these questions, we can get a better idea of the purpose of prayer and what it really is.
So first, can we change God's mind with our prayers?
The first Bible story that comes to my mind is found in Genesis 18:16-33. Because of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, God intended to destroy the city. Yet Abraham prayed to God and asked Him to spare the city if He could find fifty righteous living there.
Throughout the dialogue, Abraham keeps asking for the Lord to spare the city until he gets down to ten righteous people. God kept agreeing and finally agreed that if there were ten righteous in the city, He would not destroy it.
When you first look at this story, it looks like Abraham changed God's mind right? However, if you keep reading into chapter 19, we see two angels that the Lord sent to Sodom to seek out those righteous men. Because of the intense wickedness of the city, the angels told Lot that he was to flee with his family, because they had been sent to destroy the city.
Here's the truth that we often forget:
God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful, God's thoughts and ways are so much higher than our own. And God is God--we are not.
God already knew that He would need to destroy the city. Yet, He listened to Abraham's prayer and sought out the ten righteous, even though He already knew they were not there. Abraham didn't know that, but God did.
Sometimes we believe that we know what is best. We think that what we are praying for is the best option because it's what we so desperately want. But we don't see the whole picture. We don't see the ending. We're only seeing a small piece of the grand picture of life. But God? God sees it all.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8)
His thoughts and His knowledge is so much higher than ours. We could never understand it.
But this begs the next question: If God already knows what is going to happen and will accomplish His will no matter what, why pray to change things?
I may not be entirely qualified to answer these big questions, but I have walked this journey of when God says no, and He has taught me much along those deserts.
First, here are three things you should remember about prayer:
Prayer is a conversation with your Heavenly Father.
God is not a vending machine or online shopping retailer.
Prayer draws you closer to God and invests in your relationship with Him.
The best verse I can point you to is hidden in 1 John 5:14-15. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him."
Read it once more, because there's a very important part of this verse that we often miss.
"That if we ask anything according to His will..."
The prayer that will change your life is this: "Not my will, but Yours be done, Father."
Jesus Himself prayed this prayer in the Garden of Gathsemane. He asked that God would remove the suffering He was about to endure, but He ended with, "Not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39) Jesus even taught us to pray this way in Matthew 6:10.
Remember this: The will of God is good and perfect. Easy? Nope. I have cried much and wrestled with His will more times than I can count. Because I am merely human and I don't understand. But He does.
When it is hard to accept the will of God and when it is hard to accept that you prayed for something that wasn't His will, hold onto this: God loves you and God has a perfect plan that isn't easy but that will make more sense one day when you are standing in His presence.
What then is the purpose of prayer?
Texting is one way that I communicate with my friends. I ask questions, I share my own heart and struggles, and I listen. Prayer is how you and I communicate with God. We can share our struggles, our fears, and our hurt or anger. But we must also remember to listen and ask God what He would have for us, no matter how hard it is.
Prayer draws you closer to the One who already knows everything about you. Prayer allows you the opportunity to talk to the One who loved you so much He died for you. And although God already knows everything that is going to happen, He wants to use your prayers to fight spiritual battles. He wants to use you to intercede for family or friends on their behalf and call on Him to rescue. He wants to use your prayers and listen to your prayers, according to His will.
He may say no. Sometimes it may seem He is saying no a lot. But every good parent has to say no at times.
I can't tell you why God's will didn't include Him answering your prayer in the way you wanted. I can't tell you why God's will means your heart breaking.
But I can promise you this one thing with all of my heart: God loves you and He will never abandon you. Pray to Him when you don't understand.
He is the One who holds all the answers.
Thy will be done.
Hi friends! Since I missed my regular post on Monday, I am jumping in today with a book review I recently did. :) I recently read the book "Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart for Teens" by J.D. Greear and here are my thoughts...
The number one thing that I appreciated about this book was all the Scripture that was used. The author based everything they shared off of Biblical evidence and backed everything up with Scripture.
This edition was put into terms that were much easier to understand because it was geared towards teens, but the author still did not sugarcoat anything. He told everything like it is and challenged every reader with his words. This book did an excellent job of explaining salvation and how to become saved. It's a great resource for teenagers or even new believers. If you've questioned the assurance of your salvation, I would recommend this book to you, because he points you to Scripture and not just his own ideas of things.
(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review)
J. D. Greear is lead pastor of The Summit Church, a multi-site congregation in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. He holds an M.Div. in International Church Planting and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Greear also lived and worked among Muslims in Southeast Asia for two years and wrote Breaking the Islam Code. He and his wife have four children.