New Year 2021 is here. There are many folks eagerly burning their 2020 calendar, as well as their COVID masks. I always find it satisfying to sit on New Year’s Eve and write down my resolutions for the coming year. What are some of your 2021 resolutions?
New Year’s resolutions
Where in the world did New Year’s resolutions come from anyway? Well, thanks to good ole Wikipedia, I didn’t have to search very far. According to Wikipedia the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions is mostly us Westerners, but Europeans do some resolutions as well.
Of interest, Wikipedia also mentioned that:
Babylonians promised their god(s) to return items they borrowed, as well as pay their debts.
Romans made a promise to their god Janus (January is named after this god)
Knights would take the “peacock vow“- reaffirming their commitment to chivalry
Christians and Jews parallel each other in New Year’s resolutions as a time to reflect upon the past year’s wrongdoings by seeking forgiveness as well as giving forgiveness.
Most folks do make New Year’s resolutions. Cathrine Cho wrote the article “New Year’s resolution statistics“. In this article, she mentions a recent survey in which “of all the generations, the “Gen Z” has the highest percentage of 91.85 % participating, as opposed to the “Silent Generation” at 46.86% participation.” Personally, I’d be interested to find out what percentage of these “Gen Z” folks have successfullycompleted their resolution(s).
I bet you can guess (just like Brad did) what the top New Year resolution is! Ready? DRUM ROLL… Lose weight! Let’s take a look at the top ten resolutions (in no certain order):
Learn something new
Get more organized
Curb spending/ save money
Spend more time with friends and family (if COVID hasn’t done that for you)
Be more adventurous
Easier said than done
It is easy to write down your resolutions, but much harder to follow through with them. Much of your success is going to be determined by how motivated you are. The Journal of Psychology published a study done on resolutions and found:
Resolvers reported higher rates of success than non-resolvers; at six months, 46% of the resolvers were continuously successful compared to 4% of the non-resolvers. Self-efficacy, skills to change, and readiness to change assessed before January 1 all predicted positive outcomes for resolvers.
Our takeaway here? We must RESOLVE to follow through with our resolutions. This leads us to ask the question “How can I be successful at following through with my resolutions?”
We can be successful in setting realistic goals for our resolutions. A great mnemonic to use is SMART:
S – Specific
A positive attitude and positive self-talk help in following through with your resolutions; making the work of achieving them enjoyable. Ask a friend to help give encouragement and be an accountability partner. Lastly, be flexible. Sometimes life hits some unexpected bumps. You may have to hold off on a certain resolution and restart it at a later date. This is not to be seen as a failure.
YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RESOLUTION
Friends, the time has come. Don’t go into 2021 without making Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. There is no person on this earth that is perfect; without sin. We were ALL born sinners in need of a savior. God sent us his only son Jesus Christ.
Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying for you and me on the cross. His death completely removed any sin from your life, giving you eternal life. You have done nothing to earn it, it’s a gift of grace. You can have the peace of knowing you’re saved by asking Jesus into your life and ask for forgiveness. Simply bow your head and pray this prayer:
The Sinner’s Prayer
Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith, I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.
Dr. Ray Pritchard
God knows the sincerity of your heart and hears you. Be assured, that by asking him TO FORGIVE YOU (the most important part, we need forgiveness) for your sins, he has heard you and has forgiven you. Find a local pastor or get in touch with a friend who is walking out a Christian life, and they will help you get connected with a church and walk with you on your new journey as a Christian.
We would like to hear about your resolutions and/or your OneWord for 2021. Please linkup with us at Legacy Link-up. And please read/share/comment on at least two other posts. Thank you. If you didn’t write about it, leave a comment.
2020 has been a ridiculously unpredictable year. It’s been frightening, depressing, and sometimes exciting. Some of the things that have happened so far in 2020 probably would have never entered our minds last year.
Think on the blessings that the Lord bestows on each of us daily.
In the words of the old hymn,
Good health. The joy of helping others. A surprise visit or phone call from a friend. A beautiful day. A hug. Comfort in sorrow. Help with struggles. A good report from your doctor. Completing a task. Graduating. The birth of a grandchild. The purchase of a forever home. A much-needed vacation. An impromptu picnic or date with your sweetheart. The comfort of home. The love and support of friends and family.
Those are just a few that have come to mind.
Make your own list.
The Lord blesses us in SO many ways. Even if the world seems to have lost its ever-living mind, our Lord remains constant.
Give thanks to Him. Call on His name. Make His name known everywhere. Look to Him. Seek Him always.
As we move into the 9th month of COVID-19, I realize that I haven’t physically been in church for over 7 months. I never would have thought I would find this to be true for me. Sunday Worship (Sabbath) has always been highly important to me. Now I am finding out why.
Worship services have always been the highlight of my week. Beautiful music drawing me up close to the breast of God. And teaching and preaching that enlightens my mind and heart. Friends and family. Hugs and kisses.
Family Reunions are the Best
My mind goes back to my childhood days and our yearly family reunions. What a joy! Aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents everywhere on Aunt Julia’s farm. Tons of hugs and kisses.
And food! Long tables of the best homemade food you have ever seen including a huge pot of Aunt Mildred’s dumplings. Towards the end of the day ice cream cones. Oh my goodness! What a day!
Church Homecomings are a Close Second
Mostly a tradition in the south, church homecomings in the churches Mike and I served had a homecoming every fall. Again, EVERYONE came out for a day of remembrance and celebration.
We started with a time of fellowship as people arrived. Maybe some breakfast food! Then the preaching! We usually invited a pastor emeritus to come and preach and reminisce. We would also bring in a gospel quartet to sing through the afternoon. Of course, this was after we ate way too much good southern cooking. My Goodness!
Sabbath is like a Taste of Heaven
These reunions are just a smidgen of what heaven will be like. Think of the joy and celebration there will be! Friends and family old and new… and then all the patriarchs that we have been looking up to all our lives. We will finally have made it HOME.
I have heard that a poll was taken that found that people had a really off-skewed vision of what heaven is or what it will be like. If you want to know the truth you can read Revelation 21 for a description. It will be anything but boring. It won’t be a long boring church service. Actually, the truth is that our Sunday Services ought to be a picture of heaven that increases our desire to find our way to heaven.
I recently was given Jon Tyson’s book, Beautiful Resistance, to read and review. It is another of those books where I found myself highlighting every page. While Jon covers a myriad of other disciplines in our lives, his chapter on the Sabbath made me realize that every Sunday should be like a taste of heaven. Just a little practice for what is to come. Never a drudgery but something we always look forward to. Here’s his taste of what heaven will be and what the Sabbath should be:
We are called to feast on beauty. To fill our hearts with painting and photography and poetry and literature and nature. We are called to feast on friendship. To enjoy the company of friends and family and drink deeply from the well of belonging. We are called to feast on God, to again “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)
The Sabbath is filled with sensory delight and wonder that remind us, if even for a moment, that Jesus is making all things new. (Revelation 21:5)
Pastor’s Wife (retired) & Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.
Have you ever heard your parents say this to you? I can remember a time or too when it was said to me. However, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I saw the truth in that statement. We never had to discipline our children much but when the need arose, it broke our hearts.
It’s the same with God.
He loves us so much and He wants to keep us on the right path. And as we know there are times that the only way to keep us on the straight and narrow is to apply the rod of discipline.
I learned this lesson when I was hit with chronic pain in 2011. It was excruciating. But as time went by I realized that God was trying to get my attention. I was “working for the Lord” … very busy with children’s ministry and other things that draw the attention of a pastor’s wife. But in retrospect, God was saying to me, ‘Hey, you going out on your own and forgetting to rely on Me.” It was then that I turned my attention back to God. I got serious about studying His Word. And I found this statement from David.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I could learn your statutes.
God Allows Pain and Suffering for Many Reasons
Certainly, God allows pain and suffering because He loves us. But there are other reasons as well. C.S. Lewis states in The Problem of Pain,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Have you ever noticed that when tragedy comes, this is when people turn back to God? (At least for a while). And this is God’s purpose. .. to draw us back to Him. He did it time and again in the Old Testament. We may need to repent of sin or just develop our faith. You see, He doesn’t want us to stay infants in Christ. He wants to bring us to maturity.
Like a Shepherd, He gently guides
We, humans, are like sheep. dumb and ignorant. God places us in a green pasture and we start gobbling up the grass, never looking to the right or the left. Until that moment, when we look up and we are nowhere near the rest of the flock and now we don’t know how to get back.
So we need a shepherd to guide us and correct our paths. Just as David said in the 23rd Psalm. He allows us to go through the shadows of death, but He is right there to guide us and comfort us. He never leaves us alone.
Not long after my illness began, a friend reminded me of a wonderful book, Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet in High Places.
a timeless allegory dramatizing the yearning of God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy, and victory. In this moving tale, follow Much-Afraid on her spiritual journey as she overcomes many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places. There she gains a new name and is transformed by her union with the loving Shepherd.
Hind’s Feet in High Places, Hannah Hurnard
One surprising element in the book was that the Shepherd gave her a guide named, Suffering. Why would she want this guide? But the Shepherd assured her that Suffering was the best guide she could have. I have found it true as well. My pain and suffering has kept me at the feet of Jesus and caused my faith to continue to grow.
Even Years of Pain and Suffering are for our advantage
I just reached year 9 of chronic pain. LIke Paul I have talked with God about taking the pain away. But God and I have come to an understanding.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
You see, I have found that through my pain I have many blessings.
I am maturing in Christ daily.
Writing and blogging have been my new ministry.
Friendships around the globe have been cultivated.
I have more empathy for those who suffer.
Becoming an advocate for others who suffer.
I previously wrote about these things and came to one conclusion, If pain is what it takes to keep me in the center of God’s will, then …
I agreed to review this book because of my own journey with pain. What a great reminder of the reasons God allows pain and suffering in our lives. Just as we discipline our children when the veer off the path of righteousness, God also loves us enough to direct our path on the straight and narrow.
All of us will at some time, experience a bit of pain and suffering. That is when it is time to remember that God is with us in the Furnace of Affliction and it is for our good.
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Have you ever known someone who could really touch heaven?
If you had a need, who would you ask to pray? My mother is like that. When Mike and I got engaged, we decided to take his two young boys and go to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving to meet my family. Mom thought how nice it would be for these young Georgia boys to experience snow. So she prayed … and boy, did it snow! You can read about another time my mom prayed and probably saved my sister’s life in my memoirs blog, Raised in a Barn.
While these stories of intercessory prayers are very good, I am also reminded of two precious ladies at our last church. Mrs. Mae Thomas was a prayer warrior. She kept a notebook where she recorded everyone she prayed for. And she recorded the answers too. (By the way, it is a wonderfully encouraging way to remind yourself of the goodness of God.) When she passed away and the family closed up her home, They found stacks of prayer notebooks with years worth of prayers and answers.
There was another precious lady in the history of that same church. I never knew her but the people still spoke warmly of this precious prayer warrior. It is told that she had a table where she prayed and studied. On that table, was written all the names of people she had prayed for. So many that had turned away from God were pleased to later find their name written on that table.
These are just a few instances that prove the importance of intercessory prayer. Sometimes, we need to get really serious with God to bring people to Him. It can’t be just a flippant sentence, “Oh God, save so-and-so”. Intercessory prayer is found on the frontlines of spiritual warfare.
We are instructed in the Bible to intercede for others. One can find many verses on intercession but the one that comes to my mind first is
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
You know, as I read this verse again, I find it interesting that it says not only to pray for them but to give thanks for them. Oh my, when you think of the people that need salvation, typically, we may not really be that thankful for them. I know from experience though that being thankful can make a world of difference. You know how prayer changes things, most of the time, it is our own hearts that change.
OK, that was just an aside. Let’s get back to Intercessory prayer.
Come Prepared for Intercession
We do not stride into the presence of God.
I recently received an article from Titus Women and it struck a chord with me. I want to share part of it with you now…
When we come to a time of intercession, we must come prepared to be in the presence of God Himself. As Dennis Kinlaw said, “We do not stride into the presence of God.” There must be heart preparation and humility. As we prepare for lifting others in prayer, here are some means of preparation for our own hearts.
“Lord Jesus, we ask You for these things as we come before You to pray for others.”
Checklist for Intercession
A Clean Heart: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Cor.7:1
A Free Heart: Let all bitterness and wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind…forgiving even as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:31-22
A Forgiving Heart: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness spring up causes trouble and by it, many be defiled.” Hebrews 12: 15
A Right Spirit: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51: 10, 11
A Yielded Will: “Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143: 10
A Loyal Affection:“You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing; you guard all that is mine.” Psalm 16: 5 (NLT)
These characteristics certainly describe the aforementioned women!
A Challenge to Intercede
I remember once being challenged to think of the greatest “Lost case” you know. The one that you think will never come to Christ; never get their hearts right and straight on the path to heaven. Then intercede deeply for them every day. You might be surprised by what God will do.
Will you join me today to pray and intercede for one person in your life? If you can’t think of anyone, how about one of the presidential candidates? Or the other myriads of people on Capitol Hill? (See 1 Timothy 2:1-2 above)
Once again my mouth had opened before my brain engaged and the words I said came out to be insulting. When will I learn? When will I think about what I am about to say before I say it?
Have you been there?
Too often, we think we know it all; but seldom do we know what and where another person is coming from. And then, our words can come across demeaning and cruel when maybe we didn’t mean it to be that way at all. [Of course, there is always the chance that we did mean it that way because we have held ourselves in higher esteem than we ought to.]
Ah, and there’s the key.
Humility is the toughest discipline to grasp and fully enact in our lives. I see it as the main principle for Christian living. Without humility, we are never going to “get it right”. Without humility, there won’t be kindness or understanding or compassion or any of the other traits we so desire from our Lord Jesus.
Especially in today’s culture of racial unrest, humility is needed from both sides of the fence. Ah, we don’t like to hear about humility mainly because it is a lot like the bad “S” word… SUBMISSION. It’s likely, we all think we are a little better than most people. But what does the Word of God say?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
These are hard words to swallow. But this does not mean we belittle ourselves. It is more that we “think about ourselves less and think of others first”. Life isn’t about “me” and the world does not revolve around me.
And Andrew Murray suggests,
“The only humility that is really ours is … that which we carry with us in our daily conduct.”
Humility is the beginning of kindness and compassion. With humble attitudes, we will find it natural to act in kindness towards others. So, let’s get back to how we cultivate that humility and grow kindness.
Steps before we open our mouths
Before we speak or give our “wise suggestions” to another, perhaps we ought to get to know them a little. Make sure that we understand a bit about their culture and the things they deal with on a daily basis. I’m finding you can “know” someone rather well but not REALLY know them. Try these scriptures on for size.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
If we really take some time to listen to others and learn about them. We might just realize they don’t need our “suggestions”. And it could be that we don’t really have anything to offer them anyway. When we let our tongue fly, this is what brings on hurt and anger which is followed by arguing and bad-mouthing, all this is not acceptable for a follower of Christ,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Now that you know more about a person’s situation, consider how you would want to be treated and do likewise.
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
CREATE SPACE WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS
Possibly, we are a bit too close for comfort. Backing up and acting in love and kindness create the space people need to understand where you are coming from. Creating space allows both parties an opportunity to consider the aforementioned steps. If you are the one receiving ill words, give the benefit of the doubt. Think like Jesus, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Consequently, acting in kindness can make a difference for everyone. In her book, Humankindness, Ashlee Eiland states,
Kindness may be a mushy word, but it’s the dark horse of our humanity. It’s not loud or demanding, but given enough time, it wins.
About the book, Humankindness
Ashlee Eiland was raised in an affluent African American home but struggled to find her place to belong. In this book, she writes about instances throughout her life that were “uncomfortable” in the least. How she handled it and how she gave space for others to learn about her culture and also about attitudes and actions that weren’t as easy to get over.
Ashlee encourages us to create space and act in kindness and “rediscover our own humanity through another lens. She shares that sometimes sacrifice is needed to create that space. She shared at one time as a small girl having a white babysitter that didn’t know how to comb her “black” hair. She was doing her best only to become frustrated, creating an even worse mess. Ashlee concluded in that chapter,
So, we have a choice. Either we can resent the fact that some people can’t give us everything and demand that they try harder, that they sacrifice even more of themselves.
Or we can sit under the comb, knowing in our hearts that the outcome might be less than desirable – but also knowing that trying is the best offering some can give.
CREATING SPACE ~ Understanding and bearing up under it.
This goes both ways
Do we subject others to our own standards? In middle school, my family moved from a medium-sized town in Ohio to a very small town in Wisconsin. My original school had a dress code and the girls still wore dresses in most cases. The school in Wisconsin had no dress code. I still chose to wear a dress because I was most comfortable in a dress. After the first few questions, it became more my signature because I gave them space and they gave me space.
I see this same type of thing in The Church. A stranger comes to visit but they aren’t wearing the right clothing, they are too loud or outspoken. God forbid, they sit in “your pew”. These things shouldn’t matter to us. We should reach out in love and friendship and if there are things that need changing, God will do that work.”.
Our work is to learn how to stand in awe of each created being without making modifications or trying to bring out something that’s not ours to call forth.
We need to be cautious when what’s true for us isn’t true of someone else’s life, avoiding the conclusion that it’s not just that we differ or respectfully disagree but that their choice makes them unrelatable.
Unrelatable can become unworthy, or inferior if we aren’t careful. It all comes back to humility and creating space for each other. With this attitude, we can go far.
Making space. this is what true friendship is about and also how we learn about cultural differences and help each other learn and understand
When I share about fibromyalgia, oftentimes is to women. And it’s true the majority of people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues are women. But there are men that suffer as well. (And I’m not talking about our husbands. ha!)
I recently met Jonathan Thorn. When I heard his story I decided it was time to hear about chronic pain from the viewpoint of a male. Jonathan is a stay-at-home dad working on his masters in Mental Health Counseling. Wow! Kudos to Jonathan! Come meet him with me…
Hello Jonathan.Will you share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What are your diagnoses? Tell us about your journey towards a diagnosis?
My journey has been tremendously impacted over the past 10 years…
In January 2010 I was coming off my night shift. On my way home I was making a left-hand turn per the light. I did not notice the box truck barreling toward me at 60 mph. He hit me and crushed my car. He was drunk with no license or insurance and injured his two young daughters in the back.
The Traumatic Brain Injury caused daily unrelenting severe migraines. In the fall of 2012, I experienced the first of four TIA’s/Strokes. The final one in March of 2013 took part of my sight permanently, stole some memories, twisted my intestines, and made it almost impossible to walk. With my right side weakened I had pneumonia 8 times that year and was in the hospital ER over 20 times.
Breathing became an issue doctors had me on nebulizers and inhalers multiple times a day. They did one test after another after a year they discovered I had nerve damage between my ribs. It was decided to put a neuro stem unit in my back with wires throughout my ribs so I could breathe.
During the recovery, I fell and tore my Planters tendon which led to permanent nerve damage in my right ankle. I have TBI, TMJ, severe migraine, nerve damage in my ribs and ankle, Tietze syndrome, arthritis. Carpal tunnel, hearing loss, tinnitus, and partial eyesight loss. This is on top of my Elhor’s Danlos syndrome which dislodges my ribs, shoulders, knees, and elbows every so often.
The Past Ten Years
Consequently, Over the past ten years, I have had over 650 injections and have had visits for myself to the ER no less than four times every year over the past seven years (this year is the first with none so far). My condition is complex, and I struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Because of these problems I have lost three jobs.
What a trial! I can’t imagine dealing with so many struggles. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?
I am not great. I do not believe that true strength is something we can have in ourselves but in God alone. I am only a man who has had many weaknesses and found greater strength in God alone.
There hardly was a time I did not struggle. For the crucible I walked in was constant. I did not just walk in pain but through also through my wife’s miscarriage, and the loss of two jobs. Many times, I got angry at God. Many times, I was mad about being hit one more time with one new health or financial problems.
Encouraged by Men of the Bible
One story in the Bible stuck with me and that was with Jacob wrestling with God.
I found Jacob’s zeal to not letting go of the true fight with God inspired me to do the same.
First Timothy talks about fighting the good fight.
I have been in spiritual battles against demoniacs and such. Those were easy compared to this. This fight in myself. This fight to recognize God over every trial. Jacob didn’t hold onto his sleep, his bed, or worry about all the other things he could have easily worried about. He held onto the One who he wanted to know, even when his hip hurt he held on.
It’s What You Hold On to
In the times of trials, it is easy to hold onto the pain, the loss, and the despair of it happening again. It is easy to get mad at the dreams and false hopes that were trampled upon. The question is do we hold onto hope or The True Hope that will never leave us or forsake us. I remember the dread of tests and shots and being sent to the Emergency Department one more time.
Every time despair drained in me. The fire licked at my feet and I felt like I was walking on the broken pieces of me. In those moments, I learned, that in that crucible, at that moment, to hold onto who I was walking through that fire with me. That was God. Hupomone.
Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?
Placed There for a Reason
After my second stroke, the doctors put me into the heart wing of the hospital as it was the only place to put me. When I was rolled into the room there was a man there. He was pale, as white as a ghost and had a raspy breath.
The doctors were trying to figure out why I have problems. This one of the lowest points in my journey. The neurologist came in and told me I was crazy and made my pregnant wife cry. He kept me at the hospital anyway for more tests and to figure out why I struggled. After the doctor and my wife left, I curled in a ball and cried. I felt stripped from anything that made me human; like a horrible person for putting people through this. I prayed.
The man on the other side of the room asked if I was okay. And we began to talk. We had breakfast and lunch and supper together. At one point the nurses came in to check on us as we were laughing so loud. God opened an opportunity for me to pray with him. He was already a believer, but the fellowship helped us both grow.
When I left the hospital, they pushed the wheelchair by the nurses’ station. The nurses stopped me. They said they thought this man was not going to make it but now it had seemed he was going to be fine.
God was there!
I thanked God for the stroke because without it I would not have been in a place to minister to that man. It brought me to the place of understanding that though trials suck, God is there. We need only to be open to him and turn those trials into something for His glory.
What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?
In the middle of the storm I do not look to the storm for peace but to God and in God for peace. He alone is my anchor and the stillness I need to walk through these shards of ice that beat my body. In my true being, I find Him alone. I see God who is over any flame or darkness through which I may walk.
Beautiful. These are favorites of mine as well. So how do you find comfort on especially painful days?
God is my life. My center. My breath. Breakthrough pain is horrifying. It is crippling. Unexpected. Maddening. It feels like a tornado of icy glass is spinning around piercing me and trying to dig into who I am.
When I get hit. I feel weak and tired. I struggle to breath and to expand my chest to find air for my lungs; curling up in a ball on the corner of my couch as pain tremors quake my body.
When this floods me. I pull pillows around my chest. I bring myself inward and center myself, my True Self, my being on God who is in my heart. Knowing He never left me or forsaken me while my body broke my trust.
He was there.
I recognize the pain and let it go to God.
I anchor myself in Him with sure footing, one foot then another.
Then, in that place of peace, I find stillness in His presence.
My body is often very weakened after breakthrough pain to the point where it is hard to move even a finger. In those moments I try not to worry about moving but focus on God who is my life. My center. My breath.
What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?
Amazing Friends and Family
My family and friends have been amazing in my crucible. They have given me grace and forgiveness when I get snappy. I’ve been given an ear to talk to when I feel overwhelmed. They have reminded me of who I truly am as my peace parries with the pain. My friends and family have constantly asked if I need anything and at times protected me from doing things that may hurt me.
Pacing is hard.
Asking for help feels helpless.
They provided me a safe empowering place to just be me while I am broken into pieces.
Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.
Being Who I AM
I can only be who I am. I do not hide who I am. When I am in pain, I hold strong but when asked how I am, I answer truthfully. I share my tribulations openly.
But, with each turn, I focus on God. I share with others how God has held this body and my soul together when it is scattered and the winds in the storm have tried to shade me from all hope. Even in those darkest of times God has given opportunities to minister to others.
I share my journey on Facebook and my blog. Many of my friends whom I have met on Facebook deal with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. My blog is a place where I encourage others in the faith who are facing trials.
God opens doors for ministry where we walk, we need only to be open to these. I have made bread for all my neighbors in my condo complex. This has given me the opportunity to pray with many of them.
At the store,
God opens up conversations with strangers who I am able to encourage and pray with. Many of these men and women have chronic pain and I am given the opportunity to encourage them.
In the ER
I have been in the ER many times and I pray for those sitting there and talk with them. God has even given me the opportunity to encourage and pray with nurses and doctors.
At church I was supposed to work on putting together a pain management group unfortunately COVID has delayed this.
Finally, Can you offer some words of encouragement to those searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey?
My favorite Coine Greek word in the Bible is hupomone (the ‘e’ sounds like an ‘a’). It is translated into perseverance. But in a deeper study into this word, it means to turn your disadvantage into your advantage.
Romans 5:3-5, ‘Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us freely.’
By now you have heard about fibromyalgia, but maybe you don’t understand much about it or the effects it has on the patient. I have been writing about fibromyalgia for about 5 years now in the hope that I can explain it to you. Other pain warriors have also offered to “write letters” to answer specific questions.
Today, I introduce to you, Sue Ingebretson. She is a fellow pain warrior and best-selling author. She has offered to share with us an open letter she wrote a few years ago. We are offering part of this letter in print here but also offering the full letter as a downloadable, printable that you may more easily share with others or have handy for helping your friends with fibro. So without further ado, here’s Sue Ingebretson…
You’ve recently asked me about fibromyalgia and I’m sure you’re wondering what all the hype is about. While most people have heard of it by now, that doesn’t mean they know what it is. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there and it can be confusing.
After all, if everything you know about fibromyalgia comes from what you see on TV, you might believe I should be out rowing a canoe, gardening, or opening my own bakery and sweets shop. But, instead, you may see me not feeling well and not participating in activities that are too taxing or stressful.
To clarify my response to you, I’m providing it in this written format. It’s my way of making sure I don’t leave out anything important. Click below to open the letter in its entirety or read a portion below.
An Excerpt to Understand Fibromyalgia
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is how to express myself. Although it’s difficult, here are a few thoughts on that topic:
Please don’t ….
– Tell me that you know how I feel. Even if you have fibromyalgia and/or any other health challenge, we’re all different and experience our conditions differently.
– Tell me how I should feel. That’s up to me.
– Tell me that so-and-so drank this “magic juice” and got better. There are as many treatments that don’t work as ones that do. I’m on the journey to discover this process on my own.
– Compare me to siblings, friends, colleagues, who don’t have health challenges or even those who do. As I’ve stated, I’m on my own path to wellness.
Please do ….
– Tell me that you’re thinking of me. Even if I’m not terribly responsive or talkative it’s wonderful to know that you’re supportive of me and of my health.
– Send me books, magazines, cards, emails, notes, etc. that express that you’re there. Chronic illness can be SO isolating and every kind word from you matters to me.
– Ask if there’s anything specific that I need. Even if I say “no” 50 times out of 51, that one time that I really need something may mean the world to me.
– Continue to search for helpful treatments, protocols, nutrients, supplements, and practices. Just because I don’t always implement your suggestions doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the help. I’m always open to and encouraged by current news and information.
In Summary of Understanding Fibromyalgia:
My body may bruise like a tender peach, but my will is strong as iron.
Inside, I’m still the same me.
I’m just trying to find my way as best I can.
I’d love it if you’d come along with me on this unpredictable journey.
When we look around our communities and our world, it seems we have allowed pride and privilege to take over our hearts and lives. Perhaps it’s time to pursue humility in all our lives.
Inspired by her earlier post, Seven Biblical Promises for Walking in Humility, I asked Karen Friday if she would write more on the subject. Karen is a fellow Christian blogger and a pastor’s wife. Read with open hearts and then share on the link-up what you have been writing about Leaving a Legacy.
It seems missing from our present culture. But this lack isn’t anything new. People, even God’s people, have always had a bent toward self-centeredness and boasting.
And learning to pursue humility is a needed spiritual discipline for a Christ-follower.
So here are 8 ways to pursue H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y.
H – Honor God.
Pursuing humility starts with honoring God by letting Him be God and do His job—not taking over.
But we have a choice to let Him act as CEO of our plans and purpose. We ask ourselves: God is CEO, am I in His seat? If I am, it means I’ve exchanged honoring God for honoring myself.
Because when we take the reins, God doesn’t reign as Lord.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10, ESV)
U – Understand humanity.
Once we realize who God is, we come to terms with our own flesh. Created in God’s image, we are wired for humility, but learn life’s about me.
Our flesh and spirit war against each other. And make no mistake, our flesh and the enemy of our soul wars against humility in our life. But our spirit desires humility.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NIV, emphasis added)
M – Model Jesus.
Although Jesus was fully human and divine, He lived and ministered as a humble man who put the interest of others first. He never turned anyone away, not even those considered “unclean” or social outcasts.
We are called to the same humble life.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV, emphasis added)
I – Invite transformation.
Ask the Holy Spirit for help to change and transform us from the inside out.
Maybe we start with praying these Bible verses over ourselves.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16, NIV)
“…serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13b, ESV)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NIV)
L – Lay down pride.
None of us enjoy discovering areas of pride. But it is worth a continual evaluation if we consider how Satan’s fall all started with pride. And pride disrupts our relationships with others and the Lord. Again, ask the Spirit to reveal this to us.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV)
“Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.” (Proverbs 21:4, NIV)
“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” (Psalm 10:4, NIV)
I – Identify boasting.
Boasting is often seen online, in our career, in relationships, and so on.
Many life areas may promote boasting, “Look at me and what I did.” If we don’t voice it, we display the attitude.
Jeremiah describes a time God’s people had forsaken His law, not obeyed His voice, but followed their own hearts and other gods.
The Lord said, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord….” (Jeremiah 9:23-24a, ESV)
Likewise, Paul notes how God doesn’t choose those to minister and serve based on the world’s standards of wisdom, power, or nobility. “So that no human being might boast in the presence of God…as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31, ESV)
Identify areas of outward or inward boasting of “me,” and increase our boasting of God.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13, NIV, emphasis added)
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psalm 25:8-9, ESV, emphasis added)
Y – Yield to God’s glory.
Nothing showcases humility like yielding everything to God and making sure He receives the glory—He’s always in the spotlight.
“Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4, NIV)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty.” (Psalm 104:1, NASB)
Thank you, Karen. You have given all of us some new ways to pursue humility. I pray that we will take this to heart today. You will find more of Karen’s wisdom on her blog, Karen “Girl” Friday.
Want to Pursue Humility Further?
If you would like to study more on the topics of Pride and Humility, may I suggest a new book out by Linda Wentworth Barnes, (my college roommate, and also a pastor’s wife.) Look for my review on the Amazon listing of this book.
I know! It’s strange to write these words “light and momentary” when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the past year and now facing some heart issues. I sometimes wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at myself at 58 and then (judging from my family history) look forward to maybe 30 more years, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I wonder,
“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.
So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)
And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)
And now Interview #4 with Terri Sutula.
Terri is a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach who also lives with fibromyalgia and IBS. She has made it her mission to walk alongside others with fibromyalgia to help them find what works for them to help them thrive. Find our interview below.
Would you share the short story of your chronic pain journey? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.
This is a little tough because I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have pain. Even as a child, I suffered debilitating headaches on a regular basis. Fast forward a few years, and I started having migraines in addition to the regular headaches.
Finally, when I was around 30, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. These things made my life difficult at times, but I retired after 20 years in the US Air Force, then went on to work as a Finance Officer of a small town, then as a Personal Trainer for about 6 years.
Where’s the Light at the End of the Tunnel?
In 2011, I started having widespread pain (as in, everything hurt, all over my body), severe abdominal pain, and lots of other strange symptoms. I could no longer work. Some lab results caused concern, but then when repeated, the labs came back normal. I just couldn’t understand how I could feel this horrible and not have something seriously wrong with me. At one point, I was spending my days in bed, just waiting for each day to be over.
Eventually, in 2012, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and IBS. It was actually a relief to have a name for what was going on. Once I realized I didn’t have something that was going to kill me, I got on with learning how to live my best life in spite of my illnesses.
What a long journey. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?
When I was at my worst with my fibromyalgia symptoms, my relationship with the Lord was the closest it’s ever been. I had absolutely no strength of my own; I had to depend on His strength to even get through the day. The longer I live with it, the more I’ve learned to lean on Him for even the mundane things in life. He’s always there for us, through the big things and the small ones.
What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?
The scripture I mentioned below, Romans 8:28, has been a huge comfort for me because it reminds me that God is using this for my good in some way, but the one I cling to the most is Isaiah 41:10,
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
One thing that has been especially difficult for me on this fibromyalgia journey has been the weakness I experience sometimes. There have been times that I wasn’t even sure my legs would hold me up, but I always know that when I’m weak, God is strong, and He will hold me up when I can’t hold myself up.
How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?
I remember that God is going to use this in some way. He never wastes any experience or difficulty we have. Romans 8:28 tells us,
“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.”
I firmly believe that, and that’s what helps me get through the really tough days.
What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?
I’m fortunate to have family and friends who try to understand and make accommodations when my symptoms are not cooperating. My husband has really been a Godsend through all of this. He does everything he can to make my life as easy as possible.
Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this?
I consider my blog to be my ministry. When I first started experiencing all these weird symptoms and right after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I wanted some real, actionable tips for getting on with my life and I needed to reclaim my hope that I could still have a good life. Once I started figuring things out, I wanted to be that resource for others, Reclaiming HOPE was born.
In Conclusion, Can you offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey?
Sweet friend, I know this isn’t easy. I know there are some days that you feel you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you are not alone. You have others who have been where you are and who are willing to walk alongside you as you go through this.
And know that God is always there with you. He’s promised us in His Word that he’ll never leave us or forsake us. Life may not ever go back to the way it was, but you can still thrive in spite of your circumstances. You’ve got this!
Offering a light at the end of the tunnel,
certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach
Thank you, Terri, for sharing your story and these encouraging words.
Readers, I encourage you to comment below or connect with Terri on social media or her blog.