Recently I have been finding knowledgeable people to share about different ethnic heritages. November is Native American Heritage Month. I have always had a heart for Native Americans, especially since my nephew is of the Ho-chunk Tribe (part of the Winnebagos in Wisconsin). I have a blogging friend who teaches at a private Native American School. Anita Ojeda agreed to share some things we all need to learn about Native Americans. Please take a few minutes to read Anita’s post and become more aware of our American Natives. Then go to the link-up and share a post about your own heritage. Thanks.
I am so excited to introduce you to a good friend of mine. She has just published her own website sharing how her struggles in life including chronic illness are teaching her to allow her pain to become a pearl. Today I am featuring her on the blog. Come read her story and then Link-up your own legacy story.
Melissa is a truth-seeker and a truth-teller who writes and speaks from life experience, testing and growing in the lab of great joys and deep sorrows. Through it all, she has found a closeness with the Father by both wrestling with Him and being still with Him. That has given her a compassion for others that is palpable.
Please welcome, Meghan J. Villatoro as our guest writer this week as she shares about Hispanic Heritage Month! Meghan is a Marriage Blogger and Podcaster at RestoreAmor.com. She pairs her own experiences and her knowledge as a Marriage Coach to help Christian women who are struggling in their marriages. She has been married to her husband, Adán, for 15 years. And together they have four kids and another on the way. Originally from Long Island, she’s a New Yorker at heart but has lived in her husband’s native country, El Salvador, for over ten years. They are a multicultural family and speak fluent “Spanglish” in their home.
Then don’t forget to Join the Legacy Link-up below with your own heritage post.
Have you Heard of Hispanic Heritage Month?
It’s a month-long celebration in the United States that runs mid-September through mid-October. September 15 was chosen, because it marks the Independence Day of 5 Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Here we are! It’s time for school again. It’s easy to worry about all the things our children can face attending school. But God doesn’t want us worrying. So I thought it would be a good time to share some helpful resources. I polled some blogging friends for help. (NOTE: There are some affiliate links in this post.)
Teach Your Children Truth
I’d have to say that even before praying for your children, which is highly important, we must teach them daily from the Word. Proverbs says,
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. train up a child.
My sister-in-law from Illinois takes a daily trip to her garden to pick strawberries. I told her I wished I lived next door so that I could jump the fence and come pick a bucket full. She unintentionally acquired this strawberry patch through the neighborhood birds… I’ll say no more. With that, I give you strawberry season sensational recipes!
When I was in elementary school, we talked about the founding of our nation, our great presidents and leaders, and their character and devotion to liberty. I read and soaked up every biography I could get my hands on. It was important to know about the people that were responsible for building this country. My grandparents’ teachers took it a step further. They memorized speeches and poetry about our nation. My grandmother could quote many of these even just before her death at the age of 85.
You might say, “big deal! What does that matter?”
We are so Forgetful
The big deal is that if we don’t know where we came from we will tend to forget the good and repeat the bad. I’ve been studying the festivals of the Israelites. Erin Davis says in her book, 7 Feasts, “we all have spiritual amnesia, but there is a cure” (Psalm 103:2) I guess it has to do with the carnality of man. We just tend to digress instead of improving and learning from the mistakes of the past (our own and our ancestors).
Thomas Jefferson implied in the Preamble of our Constitution, that there was work to be done. That indeed, still here in 2021, we must work “to create a more perfect union”, always improving. Looking at where we came from and determining that we will not return there. We must do better. But we cannot do better if we are constantly wiping out and erasing the areas that need improvement.
Learning from our Past
In ancient times, empires would blot out anything bad that happened. (This is why there is no record of the Hebrews being in slavery in Egypt. It ended up bad for them; so it was blotted out of the history books). Our culture has been consistently working since the 1960s to blot out of our history books anything they don’t like. To the point that we aren’t really getting much history at all.
It is important for us to look at our past, the good and the bad. Then celebrate what we did right and learn from what was done wrong. Where wrongs were made, we remember to not do that again. We won’t remember in the future if we tear down statues and rename streets and buildings. We must leave them as a reminder. And when we see these statues we tell our children about the mistakes and how were are trying to not repeat them ever again. If we don’t teach our children they won’t even understand enough to tell their children.
Inspired by a book!
The above is inspired by Eric Metaxas’ If You Can Keep It. A must-read for all Americans. It should be required reading for studying the beginning of our Nation. You know George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But how many of these people are you familiar with? George Whitefield, Alexis de Toqueville, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, Paul Revere, Cincinnatus, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, William Wilberforce, Squanto, Joshua Dewey. There’s more, but you can learn about all of these in this little book about our republic. You do know that we are a republic, not a democracy, right? Eric also has several biographies on these great heroes.
Teach Your Children Well
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
3 Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
Psalm 78, NKJV
The Psalmist instructed us to teach our children even the dark things in our history. To tell our children the good and the bad. He was speaking of how the Israelites rebelled many times against the Word of God, but God forgave them and blessed them. This isn’t to imply that we teach our children they can do whatever they want and God will overlook it. No, God allowed them to suffer because of their wrongs, and then He drew them back to the fold of righteousness. This is what we should not forget.
Too many of us have let this all fall into the schools’ responsibilities. This we cannot do. We must teach our children at home as well. I don’t necessarily mean you should homeschool (though I am an advocate). I mean the important things should not be left to the schools. Teach your children to be patriotic (love their country) and to have good character. The schools will expose them to their literature. We should be reading biographies and historical lessons at home and discussing them around the dinner table. Teach your children to think things through and not just believe what they are taught. The Bible even warns us to test our pastors to make sure what they preach is biblical. (I fear most of us don’t go home and “fact check” our pastors.)
Get Involved in What Your Children Are Learning
We can’t leave the education of our children to the schools alone. We must get involved. Here’s a thought, read your child’s required reading along with them and discuss them. Family time can be learning time, too. Be more selective in what movies you watch as a family and the books you read together. There is a lot of educational help online. I once received a weekly email with a story from history to read and discuss. Homeschool websites are available even if you don’t homeschool. Homefires offers a monthly page of videos and books to use that correlate with each day in history.
You can stear them into developing discernment and creating their own beliefs and attitudes. When my children were young, we enjoyed reading about heroes. Even adult books can be read together in small snippets which children can understand when you are reading together.
A few useful books
The below are books part of a series of biographies called The Sowers Series
Other Heroes I have written about
This blog carries many stories of heroes of faith, especially women.
I lost supporting other homeschoolers and teaching classes,
No freedom as I could no longer drive myself where I wanted to go,
I lost my social life,
However, I gained a new perspective on life.
I gained an empathy for others who are ill…sicker than myself.
I gained an understanding of the concerns and pressures placed on a caregiver. None by their own choosing (other than the promise given in the wedding vows, or that blood is thicker the water).
and ultimately, my husband lost his job due to my illness. Which meant we lost our home, our income, our self-worth.
We gained a new trust in God as our provider (no relying on our own abilities here.)
The greatest thing I gained in the stillness, was time to really get close to my Creator. I now gave Him time to really speak to me and, oh, how I have grown.
Illness can teach us what is really important in life.
We can get so busy doing stuff.
Stuff that doesn’t matter worth a flip.
Stuff that will only burn up when we stand before God one day.
Why don’t we listen
when we read or hear God’s Word?
He says …
Jesus: If any one of you wants to follow Me, you will have to give yourself up to God’s plan, take up your cross, and do as I do. 35 For any one of you who wants to be rescued will lose your life, but any one of you who loses your life for My sake and for the sake of this good news will be liberated.
36 Really, what profit is there for you to gain the whole world and lose yourself in the process?
37 What can you give in exchange for your life?
38 If you are ashamed of Me and of what I came to teach to this adulterous and sinful generation, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in the glory of His Father along with the holy messengers at the final judgment.
I’ve heard that we can re-train our minds and deter some of our pain. This year, I would like to instill some “feel-good” scriptures in your minds to help fight against the drudgery of our invisible pain. I have asked fellow pain warriors to write a quick note of encouragement using scripture that helps them get through the pain. Here is the first one by my dear friend, Bettie Gilbert who has shared here on the blog before.
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for being so concerned for my health, and for asking how I am getting along.
Recently I was reminded of a Scripture Verse that confirmed what both my Physical Therapist and my Counselor had shared with me:
Did you know that the same areas of your brain that were triggered during a pleasant experience years ago, will be triggered again just by remembering it?
My counselor offered a beneficial practice for me then, on days when I am feeling low or depressed. She said that if I would look back and try to remember better days, and to even try to think about the specific details of a good experience, then those same areas in my brain would be triggered with “feel-good” chemicals now.
My physical therapist went a step further and said that studies have found a real benefit in pain therapy when a patient can remember a time of exertion, such as walking or working out, and slowly pace out the memory as if they are “walking” again in their mind. The right-left sensations trigger those same areas in your brain to produce those “feel-good” chemicals, and even can stimulate pain relief in some patients.
Walk the Halls of Memory
So, on days when you see me feeling particularly low about the days gone by and all that I cannot accomplish now, maybe we could join in a session of “therapy” and walk the halls of our memories together. Who knows, maybe your own “feel-good” chemicals might be given a boost as you share those pleasant memories also.
Isn’t the working of our human body and brain incredible?
Truly we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Psalmist tells us:
“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
I am praying for you my dear loved one, as you have reached out to me. May you feel so blessed by God as He pours His compassion through you.
Your loved one in Christ,
Thank you Bettie for reminding us of these feel-good scriptures. We can always depend on you to come through with great encouragements.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
Share an encouraging post on your feel-good scripture. It can be about getting through whatever you deal with… not just pain like Bettie and I..
I’ve been struggling with chronic pain for nearly 10 years. Finding purpose is key to having a fulfilled life in the midst of pain.
One of the good things about that is connecting with so many wonderful chronic pain warriors. We have such a wonderful support community online.
One of those places is the Diamonds Conference where I met Paula Short. She recognized my blog and knew she had read some of my posts in the past. Now she knew where to find me! So she jumped right over to the blog and signed up for the newsletter. I have asked her to share a bit about her life with chronic pain and how she found new purpose.
1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.
Paula: I distinctly remember sitting on my mom’s bed crying because my legs hurt. That was at age 9. I could never go outside and play long because I had to come in and lay down because of the pain in my legs. My parents took me to the doctor and were told it was growing pains, my parents were told then that I had anxiety. Well, the pain never stopped, it stayed with me as I aged. Then in my teen years, my pain was spreading to other areas of my body. I began getting headaches at around age 4 and having chronic diarrhea since childhood. Of course, the doctors did not say it was IBS but just a nervous stomach. I still have belly pain and IBS today, even though I take medication for it.
I spent my 20’s going from doctor to doctor each area of illness required me to see different doctors. Finally, I was diagnosed with migraines, IBS, TMJ, and at the time MS. Fast forward to my 40’s. I was then diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, degenerative joints disease, and chronic pain. Finally, in 2016 MS was ruled out as a misdiagnosis, and then I got the fibromyalgia diagnosis. I also got my diagnosis of Complicated migraines while some people get auras, I get stroke symptoms. I am told it is a rare type of migraine. It was in 2016 that I had to retire, early at the age of 45.
I was devastated to have to leave my beloved Social Work. I felt like I lost my purpose. The constant pain and daily migraines (that cause me cognitive issues) had taken over. In addition to being in pain all the time. I am always in some state of migraine; my baseline pain level is 3 during the days but can rise to an 8. Balance and mobility issues, as well as, the dreaded fatigue and fog have been an issue, causing me to be labeled a fall risk.
So Much Chronic Pain
I don’t remember what it feels like to have no pain. I can’t forget to add in I see a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. After three years of therapy, I phased out of counseling in August of 2019.
Grieving and then on to acceptance. I continue with medication management now. Everything seems to get worse as I age. I take a lot of medication and prednisone is my friend.
2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?
PAULA: While I had grown up in a Christian home and followed Jesus all my life. Looking back, I see that I was a lukewarm Christian for a lot of my adult life. It was during my 30’s that my faith began to grow. It wasn’t until my 40’s that my faith began to develop into a relationship with God. I found and still do that during my worst times it leads me to draw nearer to God. It was during self-isolation and not wanting to go out of my house that I suddenly had an awakening if you will, I had to surrender not only my illnesses but my life to him. I said,
I am a work in progress
3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?
PAULA: No. I really can’t pinpoint a specific event that was a turning point along my way. The best way I can describe it is since it has been a long journey, I continue to be a work in progress. If anything, this journey had led me to have a relationship with Christ. Emphasis on “relationship“.
4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?
PAULA: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).
Although Jesus has not removed my physical condition his power is displayed in my weakness. It reminds me to trust and rely on God instead of myself, admitting my weakness affirms God’s strength.
Another Scripture that I rest in is Isaiah 40:31, NIV. It gives me hope and reminds me that his promise of strength will help me rise above life’s distractions and difficulties.
5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?
PAULA: I remember that God is omnipresent, He is always with me day and night throughout my journey of this thing called life and illness. It brings me great comfort in knowing that. Also, I love listening to Christian music such as K-Love radio. It leads me to sing praises and worship him despite the pain. And thankfully, I am uplifted.
I love to read and prefer reading over TV, and I get creative by Bible faith bullet journaling.
I also find great comfort in my friend that Jesus blessed me with to journey with me, my ESA dog’s a little beagle named Little.
6. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?
PAULA: Well, that depends. My family and friends have not read about my chronic illness to educate themselves on how my fibromyalgia can affect my body and cognition. When I try to tell them how it affects me, sometimes, they listen and sometimes they dismiss or marginalize me.
They do, however, know how my complicated migraines affect me and are receptive towards me through those. Someone always goes with me to my neurologist appointments, so they hear what the doctor has to say. They are accommodating and compassionate when my migraines escalate.
7. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.
PAULA: First, I need to tell you how God gave me my purpose back. If you recall above, I said I felt like I lost my purpose when I had to retire early from my beloved Social Work. I had been thinking of blogging for a long time, my heart was, and is convicted, in sharing more Jesus.
I kept feeling a tugging. Like God was calling me for something. But at the time I couldn’t recognize for what. Then when I did, I resisted saying “But God I’m not a writer.” Well, he had plans for me, and here I am writing hence Simply Chasing Jesus was born in November of 2019.
My new purpose was sharing him. Then I began to feel that tug again, still to blog. This time Simply Coffee and Jesus were born in September of 2020. This is where I began to hone in and write more specifically on chronic illness among other new topics for me. I never considered my blogs my ministry, but pausing and reflecting on it, it really is my ministry to help others and share Jesus’ good news.
8. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for purpose in their own chronic pain journey.
Dear friends, living with any chronic illness is rough. I know there are days when you are wondering how you’re going to make it through. I know there are days when you simply can’t function. I get it. Whether you are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness or have been a long-time warrior, educate yourself.
Try your best to educate friends and family. Some may not understand nor want to understand and that’s okay too. There are many great websites out there about living with chronic pain and illnesses. It was just recently that I was able to connect with other Christian bloggers who have and write about chronic pain and illnesses. So, you see, it may have taken me a while to find fellowship and community with others who understand but I finally did.
Friend, there are others out there, we are out there for you. We support you; we care. You are not your chronic illness you are not your chronic pain. God chose you and called you by name. Keep digging deep into God’s word. All Scripture is God-breathed from beginning to end. The answers, comfort, and hope are there in Him. The Psalms are filled with every emotion and lament you may have. God breathed hope from beginning to end. Dearest friends pray to him with honest abandon.
God’s got this!
God’s got you.
Thank you, Paula for this encouraging interview. Though I don’t have as many diagnosis, I could relate to so much of your journey. Especially the “I can’t write”. But God has a great sense of humor doesn’t he?
I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13
When you have a year like 2020, you can lose perspective on everything. I don’t want to continue living in limbo as we have most of the past year. As I prayed about my new One Word, the Lord seemed to indicate that my word should be “confidence”.
Amazingly, when I shared this with my blog partner, Michele, she said confidence was her ONEWORD as well! We are very excited about sharing our confidence with you this year. We hope you will hang around with us by signing up for the newsletter (see blue bar below) or for notifications (see top of page).
Let’s Get Started With Confidence
To start off on the right foot, let’s take a look at a few scriptures that talk about being confident.
This verse encourages me that even when times are tough, God is here with us. He is going to take care of us. He is a good, good Father! I have found this to be true all my life. God is good and He provides for our needs every day. We can look forward into this new year and even if things get worse, God will never leave us alone. He is in control. Look for the goodness of God this year. His goodness is abundant!
He Will Carry It to Completion
God never abandons us. When He calls us to Himself, it is forever. What God calls us to, He provides whatever is needed for us to accomplish it. His Holy Spirit will guide and direct us until the day He calls us Home.
We Are Encouraged by Paul
We can look at the life of Paul and all His struggles and see that God never abandoned him. He always took care of Paul. This gives us confidence that we also can dare to share the Gospel. It’s an important challenge – to share the Gospel. Time is short and we must tell others about Christ so that they too can have eternal life.
We Will Not Be Ashamed
I do believe that the Lord’s return is very close. We must continue to grow deeper in the Lord and share the faith. This is how we will be confident to stand before Him on judgment day.