Sharing My Music

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Ah, a long overdue blog post!  I realize I am not posting nearly as frequently as I used to and not nearly as much as I would like to, but I want you to know that I think of you all often.  I remember you as a group in my prayers.  I cherish the comments and friendships that have been formed here.  I do hope that wherever you are in your illness journey that you are being sustained and upheld by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have shared some of my favorite music with you in blog posts before, but I am doing something a little different today.  I am sharing some of MY music with you!  I hope you find encouragement as you listen.  My gift to you… Enjoy!

The Majesty and Glory and My Jesus I Love Thee were recorded live as special music during our church’s worship service.  I also do not own copyright for the soundtracks so please use these for your listening pleasure only.  Do not sell or redistribute in any way; however, you may download them for future listening if you desire.


And if you like more classical music, listen to the The Lord’s Prayer which was originally recorded as an audio sample for my website annferguonsoprano.com.   And if you go there, you’ll find some musical theater audio recordings – If that interests you.

I hope to have some new blog posts soon with some new Tuesday Tips.  Stay tuned! 🙂  I have visited a new doctor recently who has been very supportive and helpful.  Hoping to share what I have learned from her in posts to come.

Love and Blessings,

Ann

ONE YEAR: A little blog chat…

Exactly one year ago I posted my very first blog post. That was very exciting and scary at the same time! This blog had been in the “works” for at least six months prior to that because I spent six months bantering with God about how inadequate I was to do what He was calling me to do. I kind of felt like Moses wrestling with God’s instructions to lead the Israelites. 🙂

There are so many blogs in cyberspace, it seems that everyone has one, so why the big deal? Why such inner turmoil? Well, I knew what God had laid on my heart. I felt led to use my experience with chronic illness to help others in similar situations. He was calling me to be vulnerable, to go public, to share personal experience, to admit defeat and failures, to be honest, raw and real. These are things that are often hard for me. There were times this past year that as I wrote a post, I cringed as I hit the “publish” button. Not that I regret anything I wrote, it was just hard to put those thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to read.

When I finally committed to starting this blog, I decided to consistently write for one year. I am goal oriented so giving myself a goal inspires me to work harder. Well, here we are at the ONE YEAR mark! YAY!

I have learned so much from putting my thoughts into words. It has been very emotionally healing and therapeutic for me. It has also encouraged me to stay up to date on the latest CFS/FM/ME research and to try new things to ease symptoms. Overall, it has been a WONDERFUL experience, more than I thought it ever could be. I have “met” so many new friends along the way too – sisters in Christ who empathize and also need understanding. I hope that is what this blog has done for you. I hope you have found encouragement, inspiration, understanding, empathy, love, kindness, and above all have felt the LOVE of God through words in a blog. I didn’t know if anyone would actually read this blog. But I told God and my husband, that if I help even one person, this journey will have been worth my time. I meant that! Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me!

Here are some fun blog stats:

*Last week, I reached 10,000 page views. Meaning people have visited my blog and looked at one of my pages 10,000+ times during this past year.

*I have had readers and blog visitors from 76 different countries.

*There have been 6 guest posts this year and one guest poster was inspired to start her own ministry blog because of that. Love it!

*This blog has 125 Facebook friends, 54 email subscribers, 25 Twitter followers (not much of a tweeter) and 34 WordPress subscribers. That is a total of 238 people receiving notifications of any new posts. I know numbers aren’t important, but these are the people that God brought to all of us to help each other.

*I have kept quiet about the blog in my own social circles, which means the majority of my readers are people all across the world that I have never met. This warms my heart!!! We are sisters in Christ bound together by His love, sharing with one another, uplifting and encouraging one another in times of physical pain and distress.

*I love reading your comments!!!! The purpose of the blog was to reach out to others with the same chronic illness and share spiritual encouragement, but I have found that through your comments and emails, I have been so blessed by all of YOU. I wasn’t expecting that! 🙂

Now, some of you are wondering, so her year of blogging is up, is this goodbye? No, it’s not!!! I have posted once or twice a week for a year. I was committed to that. My new goal is to blog whenever the Holy Spirit leads me to. Blogging is fun, but it is also very time consuming. I didn’t really know that at first. Towards the end of this year of blogging, I was feeling obligated to write, instead of inspired to write. I don’t like feeling like that. It was a self imposed goal to write once a week, but I still felt an obligation to my readers. Our family will be moving in the next few weeks and then we have the holiday season. Busy times for me. I want the freedom to post blogs as I have time and as I feel led to do so. So, I may not be blogging as much, but I am still here and will continue to write, as long as someone is here to read!

You can reach me anytime through email at restoringmysoul@gmail.com.

I love you all and pray that God continues to lead you and guide you through this journey of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis. It’s a tough road, no doubt. Keep praying for wisdom and let’s try to keep loving one another.

Much love and many blessings,

Ann 🙂

When Life Gets Broken

I first heard this song at an Extraordinary Women’s Conference earlier this year. The worship leader, Michael O Brien, sang it and I became a puddle of tears. The live version of music is always better and brings an enhanced worship expereince for me, but here is a Sandi Patti/Natalie Grant version that is candid and beautiful! Life sometimes does get broken, but God never leaves us. NEVER!

Next week I am celebrating ONE YEAR of blogging.  Look for a special post next week!

Hope you all have a pain free weekend!  The weather here in the Florida panhandle is GORGEOUS!  So, pain or no pain, I am going to go soak up some fresh autumn air and some vitamin D sunshine.

Love and Blessings,
Ann : )

When Life Gets Broken
by Michael O Brien

Hands reaching out
No one to hold
You’ve been abandoned
With no place to go
Wounded and wanting
Such desperate times
Cold bitter tears are filling your eyes

Get a glimpse of Jesus
For He is right there with you
He knows just what you need

Chorus:
When life gets broken
And you’re in despair
He’ll carry your burden
When it’s too much to bear
It’s down in the valley
Where He’ll give you strength
And there is nothing you have lost
That He can’t replace
He’ll help you start all over again
When life gets broken

Verse 2:
You hoped God would heal her
But she went home anyway
Now it’s hard to imagine
How you’ll make it through the day
Weeks turn to years
Time’s passing you by
But you’re still holding on
To the how’s and the why’s

Get a glimpse of Jesus
For He is right there with you
He knows just what you need

Chorus:
When life gets broken
And you’re in despair
He’ll carry your burden
When it’s too much to bear
It’s down in the valley
Where He’ll give you strength
And there is nothing you have lost
That He can’t replace
He’ll help you start all over again
When life gets broken

Bridge:
Healing waters
heal our troubled souls
Jesus, sweet Jesus
Cleanse and make us whole
Chorus:
When life gets broken
And you’re in despair
He’ll carry your burden
When it’s too much to bear
It’s down in the valley
Where He’ll give you strength
And there is nothing you have lost
That He can’t replace
He’ll help you start all over again
When life gets broken

Love One Another

My Inspiration:

Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-40

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:34-35

My Thoughts:

I have read these verses hundreds of times in my lifetime. I have heard countless sermons on them, sat through chapel messages and read devotionals on them, but it seems like at this particular point in my life, it is finally starting to sink in. God has placed a huge importance on loving others.  It is the second greatest commandment, right behind loving Him.  I am not sure why this is becoming so relevant to me now at this stage in my life, but my guess would be because I am a parent. Having kids makes me fully aware that life is not all about me.  And this is a character trait that I so desperately want to instill in my children. To love others.

I consider myself to be a kind person. I don’t really have a lot of conflict with people. So, doesn’t that by default make me a loving person. Someone who loves people and is kind?

The more I reflect on this passage of scripture, the more I realize that I am not loving others the way I should. I seek relationships that are comfortable. People convenient to love. But what about the ones that take extra time to love? The ones that take self sacrifice to love. (I am not talking about toxic personal relationships that are draining. That’s a different topic.) I am speaking of taking the time to love and connect with the people you encounter everyday. The people that I generally ignore. The cashier at the grocery store, the neighbor who routinely walks by my house, the shy girl at church, the neighbor kid who comes over to play.

I am busy.  I am the mother of five.  I have a chronic illness. I have laundry to do, meals to make, and errands to run. I need time in my day to rest and take care of myself.  I have to leave time for the flares and crashes.  And it does not come naturally to me to strike up a conversation with a stranger. This is all true. These are not “excuses”. I don’t have leftover time or energy for “loving people.”

Or do I?  Do I?  Hmmmmm.

I am efficient. Yes, that is a good word . And I am sure that my “efficiency” often looks like I am in a hurry. I have an agenda, a plan, a goal, and I am on task to get it done. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.  In my efficiency, I am so focused on my task that I completely block everything and everyone out.  How many people do I pass along the way, that could use a smile or a “hello”.  Am I on task to “love people” throughout my day?  I am ashamed to say, that many times I am not.  I have even encountered embarrassing situations where I am so lost in my thoughts of what I have to do, that I tune out those who are readily speaking to me.  Ignoring people who are speaking to you – that is definitely not loving others.

In the privacy of my own home, I can often have a complaining spirit…about other people. Am I “loving people” when I complain about them? Am I showing my children the second greatest commandment in the scriptures when I gripe and whine about how other people are not as perfect as I am? (Just being honest here.)

Maybe this post has less to do with chronic illness and more about some personal reflection, but since chronic illness affects who I am, then somehow it does indeed tie together.  I am on a new inspired journey.  To purpose to love others.  Maybe that doesn’t involve a new big project, but maybe it is just creating an awareness within myself of all the people I encounter each week.  Each soul needing to see a glimpse of Christ’s love reflected through me.  As inadequate as I feel and as unimportant as it may seem, loving others is what we are called to do.  Even in the small things.  I purpose to first SEE these people and then show them a small measure of Christ’s boundless love.

How about you?  We are all in different stages of illness.  Some leading seemingly normal lives and encountering other people everyday.  Some are housebound and don’t have the opportunity to love people throughout their day.  I am convinced that whichever stage you are in, there is a way to show Christ’s love.  And it often takes thought and commitment to do so.  I hope my reflection today has encouraged you to purposefully LOVE others.

Blessings,
Ann 🙂

Guest Post: Seasons of Fibromyalgia (Part 2)

This is our last guest post for a while.  I consider the summer “Invite to Write” a huge success!  Thank you to all that participated and I will definitely do this again next summer. Mia wrote us a lovely post earlier this year called Seasons of Fibromyalgia.  (You can find her bio there.) This is her follow up post concluding her thoughts on seasons.  She wrote these posts for me just wanting to share her heart and discovered she loved writing her thoughts so much that she started her own blog.  You can visit her blog here.  Another sister in Christ and fellow fibromyalgia sufferer reaching out to help the hurting –  I LOVE IT!!!! 🙂  I hope you are encouraged by Mia’s thoughts today.  Show her some love in the comments and go check out her new blog!

God’s thoughts to me

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you, O Israel, the One who formed you says,” Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficultly, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”(Isaiah 43:1-3, NLT)

Seasons of Fibromyalgia (Part 2)

My home country, South Africa, this year experienced an unusually cold and severe winter. Fortunately spring has officially arrived with the beautiful month of September. All around us new life is slowly blooming and the air is filled with vibrant expectancy. The yellow finches have returned to our garden and are busily building their nests. Their loud chirping and singing are like a joyous ode to spring.

Winter is stubbornly refusing to release us from its grip on this first spring day. A gale force wind is howling around the corners of our house. But its sorrowful moaning and groaning are slowly but surely replaced by a bubbling new spring song of joy.

My previous post ended when my spring arrived with a diagnosis by a rheumatologist in Port Elizabeth. Unfortunately this doctor was not very knowledgable about the treatment of this illness and sent me on my way with only a prescription in hand. I was still clueless about this condition and the fierce battle between the winter of depression and despondency and the spring of new hope and courage was raging in my heart. I was at once filled with an odd mixture of dread and expectancy.

Dear Ones, I am convinced that this is such a wonderful opportunity for us to stretch those faith muscles and to allow our Lord to lead us forward on this journey. I want to encourage you not to condemn yourself when you experience this cacophony of weird and unfamiliar emotions. Condemnation is not from our Lord and is so destructive. Rather focus on your Pappa God, our Heavenly Gardener, who is weeding out all the weeds, thorns and thistles from the garden of your soul and the new beauty He is creating in its stead.

I dared to dream again and dove head first into extensive research on possible treatments and cures for FM/CFS. I gathered lots of information and it did not feel as if I was fighting a phantom in my mind anymore, but a real enemy with a real name. I still had no idea that there was no known cure for this condition and was convinced that I would be able to beat this foe. There were so many advise and treatments available and each one brought new hope to my heart. With so many options available, how could one not be cured!

I also discovered wonderful online support through blogs like Ann’s and it brought so much comfort and relief to my heart. Every time winter was trying to re-assert itself through despair, the naked honesty and coping advice I received through these links were precious gifts from our Father. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the support of other travelers on this FM/CFS road, but crucial to this road is our Lord Jesus. He is the One who carries us, our Strength and Support. He cares deeply about everything that happens to you.

Realizing that there was no cure for this illness yet, launched me onto a new road during my spring journey. I found it so difficult to wrap my mind around the possibility that I could forever, whilst on earth, suffer from this pain and exhaustion. I tried so many different treatments: supplements which helped a bit, but became too expensive; diet changes that caused me to lose weight I could ill afford; an exercise regime that actually made the CFS worse; prescription medications, etc. I even went to a pastor to undergo a deliverance. He apparently was an expert on this field. I had no previous knowledge on this kind of thing and was prepared to try anything legal. I realized that these people only meant well and tried their utmost best to help me, but it nearly drove me over the edge of reality straight into the arms of insanity when they told me that demons of death and insanity were trying to kill me. This experience caused me so much spiritual harm and it took me a long time to recover enough to be able to share this with you. The extreme terror and fear I experienced caused me to completely lose my appetite and my weight plummeted down to 47kg.

The spring in my heart made way for a very hot and dry summer as disappointment followed every unsuccessful new treatment. I also endured so much uncertainty and self-doubt as it seemed as if no one actually believed in the legitimacy of this condition. Dark, frightening thunderclouds of terror and fear (and all their evil counterparts) started to suffocate the last hope in my heart. I was brought to the brink of a complete breakdown as lightning flashes of pain relentlessly ripped thorough my body and sanity. The only thing that I was able to do, was to cling unto our Pappa God for dear life. He was my only anchor and lifeline and, just at the right time, He brought repeating storms of crying. Thousands upon thousands of tears flooded away all those terrible emotions and quenched the fire that was consuming my life. Our Pappa brought only good out of this as He was drawing me closer and closer into His loving embrace. He brought a new Christian doctor into my life who taught me the golden rule of pacing. We worked together trying to find the right combination of medication to at least alleviate some of my symptoms and we managed to get many symptoms under control. This dear, patient man prayed for me and listened to all my aches and pains, as well as to all my sorrows and woes.

Our Lord then escorted me into the beautiful new season of autumn. The colors of the leaves of my self-efforts changed into rich shades of golden browns and yellows, coppers and burnished reds. As trees are stripped of their green foliage during winter, I was stripped of all my self confidence and efforts to bring about healing to my life. I personally had to experience the loss of the “self” life before I was able to receive and experience new life in our Lord Jesus. I realized then that only as I allow our Lord to live His Life in and through me, was He able to produce delicious fruit through all my seasons of FM/CFS; not only for my needs, but also for everyone around me.

It has taken our Pappa quite a fair amount of time to teach this stubborn child of His that He brings beauty only out of ashes (and not self-effort), and strength out of weakness (and not out of striving). Now, whenever my heart experiences a cold winter or dry, hot summer and not much life is visible from the outside, I look forward to the new hope, new trust, increased faith and dependence that our Lord is creating in my heart.

When you are overwhelmed by all the different seasons and fluctuating symptoms and emotions, remember our Lord Jesus’ gentle invitation: ” Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28a, NLT) Your Pappa will, if you allow Him, use every season you experience for your ultimate good and His wonderful Glory.

Thank you so much for sharing my thoughts. Ann, I so appreciate the opportunity you gave me to bring my thoughts on all the seasons of FM/CFS to the only logical and possible conclusion, a life lived in our Lord Jesus.

Hugs and blessings.

Thank you MIa for sharing you heart!  You blessed and encouraged me and I know you have blessed others as well.  Don’t forget to visit Mia’s blog hisnlovingembrace.wordpress.com.

Blame

I did not get a blog written last week.  Boo!  Let me tell you why.  We were faced with a possible hurricane (it skipped us, we are fine).  We have been looking for a new house, found one, went through several days of emotional turmoil to try and get a contract.  We got it.  My husband worked 85 hours last week to finish a deadline – so I was single mom last week.  And my in-laws came and visited over the holiday weekend.  Whew!  That was a bit stressful.  Glad it’s over.  Good things.  But even good stress is still stress.  So, here is my post for this week.  Hope it makes up for last week.  Love to you all!!

My Inspiration:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Job 1:20-22

My Thoughts:

Do you ever blame God for the things that go wrong in your life? If anyone on this earth had reason too, it would be Job. He lost everything. The family he loved, all of his possessions, and his health. Sometimes bad things happen because of our poor choices. But sometimes painful things just happen in life for reasons that we don’t understand. I don’t think I have ever blamed God for bad things, but I have questioned Him. I recognize that both believers and non-believers encounter all kinds of earthly suffering due to the curse of sin. As a believer though, I have often questioned why suffering happens to those who are trying to please Him. I have also felt angry and frustrated that we don’t know these answers. I have grieved and continue to grieve a life that I thought I was going to have and still desire.

My illness started my last year in college. I have been dealing with this for basically my whole adult life with very little hope that I will ever be “well”. I have ups and downs physically that range from completely bedridden (did that for 2 years) to all appearances of normal. I managed to finish college and even get a Master’s degree. I married the love of my life and spent the first 18 months of our marriage in the bed. Literally. I grieve that I never had a honeymoon or the first years of marriage were covered in illness and doctor’s appointments, but I am blessed beyond measure that he stuck with me and doesn’t complain. Life has become more manageable since the early days. I know my body’s limitations and triggers. I appear to live a “normal” life, but no one sees the meds and lifestyle changes that have been made to appear that way. Although I am in a good place with my health right now, I still suffer consequences of this chronic illness, everyday. That is my life.

I have discovered that dealing with chronic pain and the loss of “normalcy” is a continual process. It is not something that can just be conquered emotionally or spiritually once and for all. Wait. Read that again. It is a continual process. Just when I think I have a handle on how this illness works. It surprises me. And just when I think I have laid this to rest, accepting it for what it is, something happens that sends me spiraling into tears of frustration. And just when I think I have put all of this into God’s hands, I am tempted to doubt and question His ways. This is a journey! A constant, active mindset of laying our lives and our plans at the feet of Jesus.

My thoughts from the beginning have always been to allow the Lord to teach me through it – to use it for His purposes. But what do you do when you try to find purpose in it and sometimes come up empty? We know that God ordains everything. Nothing surprises Him. He chose you and me to suffer chronic pain and fatigue. Why? I search for reasons why all the time. Maybe I am to minister to those who chronically suffer. Maybe this lesson is for me to trust completely. Maybe it is the only thing in my life that keeps me running to His Word. Maybe the desires and ambitions I had for this life were not good for me. (Blessings)

I am currently a stay at home mother of five kids and I am thankful and blessed. But I am also full of ambition and passionate about what my career would have been. I still dream of going to get my Doctorate degree. But for what purpose? I don’t know that I could ever work a full time job. Why would God give me talent, ambition, and passion and then allow my body to fail me? I don’t know. I think it’s OK to question why, to question His purpose. But always realizing that HE DOES INDEED HAVE A PURPOSE!!!

I don’t have answers, but I can offer you encouragement. Keep trusting, praying, believing, and looking for ways to use your suffering. Remind yourself of all the good in your life – the abundant blessings that we often take for granted. I hope and pray that in our lifetime there will be a cure for fibro and cfs and that the suffering will one day come to an end. Until then, I allow myself to grieve and question, but I am also confident that He controls it all. Sometimes it stinks, but His purposes are always for the greater good. ALWAYS!

Love and Blessings,
Ann 🙂

Guest Post: Finding Purpose

Here is another great guest post!  Please meet my friend, Lee.  We have never met in person, but we have become great friends through email.  She is a treasure! 🙂  Lee will be getting married very soon and will be going through some wonderful changes in her life.  Please keep her in prayer as fibromyalgia is not friendly to  life’s adjustments, even the good ones.  I know you will be blessed by her words.  Leave her some love in the comments!

My name is Lee and I’m currently living in Ohio. I’m 21 years old and will be getting married in just a few short weeks. My fiancee and I are striving to fulfill the Lord’s purpose for our lives, and have future plans for ministry overseas. Fibro was an unexpected thing for both of us, but we know that God’s calling is His enabling, and that He will give us the strength to fulfill His plan.

Finding Purpose

Have you ever spoken with someone who was struggling with a serious issue, and felt completely helpless as to what to do to help? Maybe it was someone struggling with an abusive marriage, drug addiction, suicide, depression, cancer, diabetes or maybe an eating disorder? In that moment, you might have struggled finding the right words to say, or maybe you just sat bewildered and said in your heart “Help me Lord…what do I do?”

This feeling can be so crippling, especially when your heart yearns to be a blessing to them somehow and to ease their pain. Aristotle once said: “To perceive is to suffer.” The more I read this statement and roll it around in my mind, the more I find it beautifully profound. The word perceive can be defined: “to recognize, discern, envision, or understand.”

To truly perceive a person’s pain, one must be familiar with or recognize it. True empathy cannot be realized until someone has suffered and understood a similar issue.

The Lord has been gently stamping this truth on my heart, and it has been such an amazing tool for me in coping with my illness. I am learning that there is so much blessing in sickness, and so much wisdom to be learned in pain. One of my favorite authors is C.S Lewis, and I have just recently read a beautiful quote of his that I would like to share with you.

He said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

My heart both breaks and sings with this statement because I have found it to be so true in my life. This season of struggle has caused me to hear the voice of God in a way that I never have before. It has both brought me to my knees and raised me up in great joy.

He has been helping me to find purpose in my pain. The daily struggle with fatigue, neuropathy, sleeplessness, brain fog, and pain is all for a reason. This attack on my body is not in vain! This experience has sharpened my ability to recognize and identify with the pain and chronic conditions of others. This ability is a gift from God, not my doing, and I feel honored to have been given stewardship of it. I am learning that this pain has not been permitted in my body for me to be crushed beneath the weight of it, or be in valleys of despair and self-pity. Let me tell you, it’s not always easy, but I have found that the joy of the Lord truly is my strength!

Each day I have learned how to draw on that joy, over and over again, and I find that He has such a sweet and gentle way of replenishing it. He has called me to share that joy, and I believe He is calling you too. If there’s one thing that people need most in our world, it is the salvation and joy of the Lord. They are starving for it and you might be surprised at the reactions of people when you exercise this principle. Your pain is not in vain, and there are people who desperately need your empathy. They need someone to be there for them when they are hurting, and not just to be there, but to listen, and truly understand. As you well know, there is something so priceless about an understanding hug, tear, or hand to hold. But I challenge you, don’t wait forever for someone to come to you…go to them! If you don’t know where to find them, just pray…the Lord will lead you right to them. In that moment when you sacrifice your time and energy to give to a hurting heart, you will find that God refreshes your spirit in a way so beautiful, it is not easily forgotten.

God has such a wonderful plan for your life, whether you are healed of your infirmity, or whether you faithfully endure until He calls you home. You are called according to His purpose, and each one of you has one! Ask Him to lead you to that neighbor who’s hurting, or to that person who just needs a smile or a hug. When you’re feeling low, try to reach out, when you’re feeling blue….SING! When you feel alone, remember that Jesus suffered much for you, and that there is not a single thing that you’re going through that He doesn’t understand. His compassion and love is overwhelming, and He would delight to see you lavish that love and empathy on a soul who needs it.

May God give us all the strength and courage we need to be exactly what He wants us to be on this journey. May we see His bright and beautiful purpose, may we catch a glimpse of Heaven, may we be propelled to do everything we can to see His kingdom grow, and may we learn from each daily experience how to share His love! Thankyou so much for letting me share my heart with you today. May God richly bless each one of you! 🙂

 Well said, Lee!  Thank you for taking the time to share with us during this busy time of your life!  Blessings to you!!!

Guest Post: With This Breath…

Another guest post today!  You are going to love what Kirsty shares with us today. I very much connected with her thoughts and she blessed me with her words.  Take some time to visit her blog  and if you like this post, encourage her and leave her some love in the comments.  I am loving this guest blog thing!!!  You all are amazing!

Kirsty is 28 and currently lives in New Zealand with her husband Matt. She grew up as a missionary’s daughter in Tanzania and has lived her life travelling between Australia, New Zealand and Africa. She has had serious problems with her health since she was 19, battling a myriad of tropical illnesses and currently deals with post-infectious (or chronic)-fatigue. She loves God and is so thankful for his faithfulness and grace to her through all the years of illness. She has recently started a blog at: http://howthelamerun.wordpress.com/ and would love to hear from you!

With This Breath…

Our life is but a breath…Psalm 39.5

With time, it seems that I understand more and more what this means. The days come, and go, so quickly. Soon, we will be standing at the end, and then, no more. At least of this world.

Sometimes when illness brings us close to death it gives a glimpse of this reality. We come so close to the end that we feel we might fall off it. Suddenly we remember that our days are a gift. Even filled with illness and darkness, our days are a gift.

It’s been two years now since I came so close to death that my family held their breath and prayed. No one else knew how sick I had become, but God woke friends in the night to pray for my safety. I was too sick to be really aware of the danger I was in, but remember having a sense that when I went to sleep, there was a chance that I just might not wake up.

God brought me through, and healed me of what threatened my life, but then, I went on living with the consequences of illness. Of course, anyone with chronic illness knows how hard this is, this day in, day out, struggle with feeling completely horrible. I don’t have to explain it to you, you know.

Keeping perspective…

As time goes on, and illness continues, I began to lose the perspective gained through this experience. With illness, we can all lose perspective.

I know, deep down, how precious life is, and that I don’t want to waste a day, but then the symptoms come, and it seems impossible to see past the tiredness or the pain. This is a hard thing to live out. I want to make the most of everyday, but my head is in a blur, and my body just won’t co-operate. There is a fight to remain content, to make the most of this day, despite illness.

I am a lot better now than I was then, and maybe that has helped me get some perspective back, but also, I am learning to be thankful for the small things. Some days, I have lots of energy. Others, my energy comes in little bursts, up and down all day. I try to be thankful that I have little bursts. I feel like a box of sparklers, energy bursts lighting up one at a time, and then, gone. I try to be thankful for the beauty and the bursts of light, rather than looking at the burnt out stem of blackness left afterwards.

The days of having no energy at all are few now, for which I am very thankful, but they still come, and I still have weeks where I can hardly get out of bed.

Questions…?

Often, there is an intense frustration accompanying this, and the questions come. How do I make the most of my time?

How do we?

How do we treat our days like a gift, when we are sick? How do we make the most of them despite illness? How do we avoid feeling useless and use what we do have in a meaningful way?

I have been thinking about this, struggling with feelings of uselessness, unable to do what a ‘normal’ woman of my age would, I’m not earning money, and I don’t have a career or children.

I keep coming back to this same conclusion, or rather, God keeps reminding me of what is most important, he pulls me out of my discouragement, and says to me, “It’s not what you do, but how you love.” He tells me again the words Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…and love your neighbour as yourself.”  -Mark 12:30-31

We can love God…

I find it to be such an encouragement. The most encouraging thing I can hear, because no matter how illness limits me, I can do that. No matter how illness limits us we can love. He gives us the grace to. In the simple, in the little, he gives us the grace to love him. We can love our God by spending time with him, even if it is a desperate cry from a hospital bed, or with tears of frustration flowing down our cheeks. We can love him with thankfulness for a good day, or a beautiful sunset, or another milestone reached.

We can love him, not by doing, but by being with him. We can love him, by being loved by him. We can love him by accepting his grace, just to be. By coming to him like Jesus says. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  –Matt 11: 28-30

We can love others, and ourselves…

We can love others with the simplest gifts, maybe not with the energy many have, but with the little that we can do, we can love them. We can love with the grace God gives to us. We can love them by making a meal if we are strong enough, being present in a conversation, listening, or if we are all alone, with no energy to even move, we can love them by praying for them. God will show you how you can love your neighbour, and it won’t be something that is too much for you =) (Refer to verse in Matthew above =))

We can love ourselves by accepting our own limitations, not being too hard on ourselves, and accepting the grace God has given us.

I find this one the hardest personally. I have such high expectations for myself, but God will help us, and as we learn from God to love ourselves better, we will be able to love others better too.

“But love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your might, with all your strength… and love your neighbour as yourself.” -Mark 12:30-31

He gives us the answer. Our days are a gift, and they are to love. There are no wasted days with God. He loves us deeply, and he asks us also, to love.

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to read, and thank you so much to Ann for giving me this opportunity!

Priorities in Illness

My Inspiration:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

My thoughts:

I’ve heard from many people with chronic illness, specifically fibromyalgia, that one of the greatest blessings to come from illness is the necessity to create priorities in life. Most healthy people have adequate energy to spend on whatever they want throughout the day, but when you have limited energy, every choice is calculated. I am forced to think about the energy output of daily tasks which automatically helps me focus on the things that are truly important to me. That is a blessing. Not everyone is given that clarity in life.

It is frustrating when I don’t get the things done that I want to. I make a reasonable list everyday of the things that I would like to accomplish, but I am often forced to go back and whittle that list down to what absolutely has to be done and some days, I am forced to just say, none of it really matters and I stay in bed.

My relationship with God and my family are the most valuable things to me. I just don’t have the energy, physically or emotionally, for all the extras. Yes, I am robbed of some pleasure in this life, but my focus is clear and I am thankful for it.

It’s tempting to create our own agenda, spending time and effort on things that we think are good. Staying busy and perhaps not putting our focus where it should be. Our minds and hearts are full of “plans” as they should be, but seeking God’s purpose should be the driving force behind any plan. God’s purposes are good and right and holy. Even when we are tempted to disagree with what God allows in our life, it doesn’t change the fact that His purposes prevail.

Chronic illness forces us to create priorities in our physical life, but what is motivating us to make priorities in our spiritual life? I fight the noises inside my head that keep me from focusing spiritually. It’s not an easy thing to always trust that the Lord has purpose in chronic illness as part of His plan. I sometimes struggle to quiet the thoughts that want to be angry and bitter. Or even the everyday distractions that keep me from spending alone time with God. Brain fog can even make it hard to read my Bible. A genuine spiritual focus will bring our priorities in line with what God wants for us. But we will never know this unless we are in communion with Him, seeking His plans, His ways.

How can I bring glory to Him in my limited daily activities? How does He want me to prioritize my time? How can my agenda come in line with what He wants for me? These are sometimes tough questions, but worth the effort to consider. I pray that I will choose to seek Christ when prioritizing life’s activities and in my daily walk with Him. Plans are good, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Love and Blessings,
Ann

*If you liked this post, go read Learning To Say No.

Comfort and Compassion

My Inspiration:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 

My Thoughts:

Comfort and Compassion. Father of Compassion. God of all Comfort.

God understands the human need for comfort and compassion. Not only is He omniscient, but we were made in His image.  He is the author of comfort and compassion.  So many times in my life, I have seen Him as the giver of these things. To me and to others. And in turn because we understand this human need and are the blessed recipients, we are then able to share these gifts with others.

I have experienced the comfort of my Lord countless times throughout the 16 year journey of fibromyalgia and cfs. In times of discouragement and despair. In times of emotional hurt and physical pain. In times of depression. In times of overwhelming fatigue. Knowing He is there, listening and caring for me, brings peace.

The words of God comfort me. I love to surround myself with His words of promise. For even though He has chosen me to walk through the hardship of chronic illness, His promise to be with me brings comfort. The New Testament is filled with examples where Jesus offers comfort to hurting people. From healing the sick to feeding the hungry, Jesus set a wonderful example for us. He knew how to comfort people. And meditating on His words of comfort for others offers comfort to me. He is a loving and compassionate Saviour!

Matthew 14:13-14
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
And then He went on to feed them because they were hungry. Compassion for the hungry. Comfort for the sick and hurting.

I have been blessed to receive comfort from family and friends through difficult times. Sometimes, God uses people to comfort us. Comfort from God, through friends. Love that. It’s like a double hug! Not to say there aren’t times when we feel lonely and afraid, but in those times if we will cling to His Words and trust, His comfort will abound.

My dad had quadruple bypass surgery last week. It was sudden and surprising. It was a time full of anxiety and fear, for all of us. I was blessed to be the recipient of comfort last week. So many people outpouring their love, thoughts and prayers to my dad and to us, his family. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of the body of Christ. Jesus set the example and so many have followed with compassion. By offering comfort to the hurting.

Dad is on the road to recovery. It will be slow and long. We are praying for no complications. Thank you to those who have asked about him and have been praying for him. Keep it up!  And many thanks to those who have lived out the mission of comfort and compassion to our family.

Many Blessings,
Ann 🙂

Is there a specific moment where you remember you felt the comfort of God? or were overwhelmed by the compassion of a friend? Share your encouraging stories with us!

Guest Post: Seasons of Fibromyalgia

I am so excited to be posting our first guest blog from my “invite to write”.  I know that my blog readers will enjoy hearing from other readers.  This makes me happy!!!  Thank you to Mia for being willing to share her beautifully written devotional.  I hope you are encouraged – and please leave Mia some love in the comments! 🙂

INTRODUCTION
I am a 49 year old fibromite from South Africa. My hometown is the beautiful little coastal town of Gonubie about 20 km from East London. We are so blessed to stay about 200 meters from the sea. I am married to my teenage sweetheart of 27 years and we have two precious sons. The oldest is a fourth year architecture student at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and the youngest is taking a gap year, waitering in PE. My hobbies include knitting, cross stitching, sewing,art, writing and cooking. I am a housewife and love it! My husband is the love of my life, my best friend and so special.

DEVOTIONAL
The Scripture reading comes from Eccles. 3:1-8 : A Time for Everything.

This is the first devotional I have ever written. Looking at Solomon’s wisdom, I want to thank Ann for giving me a place to share my time to encourage others with the same encouragement God has given me and for sharing with you one of my passions: writing.

I was diagnosed with FM about 6 years ago and have gone through many, many fibroseasons during which God has carried me with more patience and love than what I allowed for myself. I think I am finally entering my season of the new normal. Ann, I love that description! I would like to share with my fellow fibromites the seasons of fibromyalgia that I have experienced.

The first season that I think we all go through is the cold, dark frightening winter of this unknown visitor that causes so much pain. The icy cold fear of pain, exhaustion of night-after-night of insomnia and so many other terrible symptoms often lead you to the road of extreme loneliness and despair. The skepticism of the people around you does NOT contribute to your wellbeing. Usually the doctor’s conclusion of that-all-in-your-head kind of thing is the last straw that makes you doubt your own sanity. The emotional hurt can be even be more severe and frightening than the physical symptoms and most often much harder to bear. It seems that you are sooooo alone; struggling through thick layers of snow without even one ray of sunshine to bring just a little warmth of relief.

Dear Ones, when you are in the midst of your own severe winter season, you are never alone. Your Lord is walking with you every single step of the way. Be patient with yourself even if you are the only one and allow your roots to grow deep into our Wonderful Saviour, our Lord Jesus. Let your lives be built upon Him. He knows pain and suffering and understands exactly what you are going through. Ps 22 gives a good description of His own pain, suffering and loneliness He went through. Commit your spirit into His Hands like He did His into our Father’s Hands. Remember His great, great love for you and His tender, gentle smile of joy when He looks at you. He lovingly collects all your tears and saves them in a special jar marked with your name.

Remember that this is just a season, a time and He created it all; not to stay, but to pass. Only He is Eternal. During my own winter I went through so many conflicting indescribable emotions of terror, anger, rebellion at life and so many more that I was totally unfamiliar with. Eventually the extreme darkness was slowly replaced by greys and browns of discouragement, despair, hopelessness and loneliness and later with beautiful dark, rich reds, oranges, blues, greens as our Good Shepherd started leading me on a wonderful inward journey to springs and waters of refreshment and rest, where he fed my soul with Himself. What a Saviour, what a Friend and God! The seasons were changing.

My first fibro spring started mercifully with a diagnosis by a rheumatologist in Port Elizabeth. For me it was profound and so liberating. I was not insane neither a hypochondriac. I had permission to suffer without having to make excuses whenever some one was enquiring about my illness. Some colors started creeping back into my life. Spring flowers of joy started to bloom where there was only a dead winter landscape of depression.

For those ladies (and gents) going through this season, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes and thoughts on our Heavenly Gardener who is creating a beautiful garden in your soul. This season is necessary for cultivating all the lush green foliage He is preparing.

Through both these seasons I was startled by all the feelings that I experienced, especially the intensity of emotions it caused. When I realized that they were all also created by Our Father as a gift of mercy to help me cope with the illness, my summer started.

In a next devotional I would love to share the next two seasons.
(Mia has done such a great job that I am allowing her to submit another devotional to be published later in the summer. Stay tuned!)

Lots of warm love and blessings from a cold South Africa.
Mia de Vries

If this blog post encouraged you today, please encourage Mia by leaving her a comment!  🙂  If you would like to contact her personally, her email address is:  meraai.devries@gmail.com

Oh, I Want To Know You More

My Inspiration:

 

My Thoughts:

I sat down tonight to write a blog and expound some truth about this song, but the message is profoundly clear. It doesn’t need any help from me. It’s one of my favorites and of course, I can’t listen to it without crying. It’s an awesome, inspiring song where the chorus offers a pleading, a longing of my heart when words are not enough. It’s a throwback. Steve Green. 🙂

I hope you are encouraged.
Many Blessings,
Ann

Oh, I Want to Know You More
By Steve Green

Just the time I feel that I’ve been caught in the mire of self.
Just the time I feel my mind’s been bought by worldly wealth.

That’s when the breeze begins to blow I know, the Spirit’s Call.
And all my worldly wanderings just melt into His Love.

Oh, I want to know You more!
Deep within my soul I want to know You,
Oh, I want to know You.
To feel Your Heart and know Your Mind,
Looking in Your eyes stirs up within me,
Cries that say I want to know You
Oh, I want to know You more.

When my daily deeds ordinarily lose life and song,
My heart begins to bleed, sensitivity to Him is gone.

I’ve run the race but set my own pace and face a shattered soul,
Now the gentle arms of Jesus warm my hunger to be whole.

Oh, I want to know You more!
Deep within my soul I want to know You,
Oh, I want to know You.
To feel Your Heart and know Your Mind,
Looking in Your eyes stirs up within me,
Cries that say I want to know You

Oh, I want to know You…
And I would give my final breath
To know You in Your Death and Resurrection,
Oh, I want to know You more.

Oh, I want to know You, to know You more.
Oh, I want to know You more.

He Knows My Name


You all know how much I love music! I love sharing with you what music inspires me in hopes that it will also encourage you! Well, this song is super special, not only is it a great song, but someone very special is singing it in this video. My 10 year old daughter, Carissa, was asked to sing in Sunday morning worship at our church a few weeks ago. She absolutely loves to sing, just like her mama, and she was thrilled to be a part of our worship service. I can’t tell you how much it melts my heart, that not only has she found something that she loves to do, but it is the exact same thing that I love to do. And she is using it to glorify our Lord! So special! OK, enough gushing about my kids….

I love the lyrics to this song. Our Father knows our name, our every thought, and He knew all of this before our time on this earth even began. That means that He knew before I was even born that I would have fibromyalgia and cfs. It was in His plan. We can say that about anything that happens in our lives. And sometimes that can be puzzling. It again goes back to the question that I always ask about human suffering on this earth and why He allows it. And this song answers that question in the same way that I would. There will always be hard times, but “He sees each tear that falls, And hears me when I call, and He’ll never leave me, No matter where I go.” Reminds me of some of my favorite verses:

Hebrews 13:5-6
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

My friend, God will not leave you. He promises that. I think sometimes I need to be reminded of this truth. We all do. Sometimes it feels so lonely, like God has gone missing in the midst of life’s problems. Or that my pain is somehow insignificant to our great, big God. But even when we don’t FEEL like He’s there, He always is. And we can call on Him at anytime and ask for His grace to sustain us. I pray that no matter your circumstance today, in this moment, that you know this truth and rest in His promise. He will not leave you. He will never forsake you.

Blessings,
Ann

He Knows My Name
By Tommy Walker

I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hand

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

I have a Father
He calls me his own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

Life is Hard

My Inspiration:

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Corinthians 12:9-10

My Thoughts:

A few weeks ago, we had a guest speaker in my Connection Group Class at church. Her name was Lori. She is a friend of my group leader and while vacationing in Florida she was gracious enough to stop by our class and share her story. Lori is a precious child of God who has experienced great hardship and loss in her life. Her story was full of raw emotion as she shared her journey of 10 years of infertility which included numerous failed IVF treatments and a failed adoption. After 10 years, she was finally able to get pregnant. She carried her baby to full term and then through an unforeseen complication during labor, her son only lived for several hours. How absolutely devastating and heartbreaking! My first thoughts when hearing a tragic story like this is, “do we serve a cruel God?” If you are in love with Jesus and serving Him the best you know how, why would He allow such a tragedy to occur? How could God allow such emotional pain and suffering of one of HIS children?*

How many stories have you heard of unspeakable loss to one of God’s own? There are countless stories. Maybe you are one of them. How do you reconcile that the world that God created is full of such pain and loss? That His own beloved are suffering here on this earth. Wouldn’t it make sense that those who choose to live a life glorifying God would be the ones with the least problems in this world? In human terms, doesn’t that just make sense? Maybe you think this about yourself – I try to please God and bring glory to Him, yet I live in a world of pain. Why is that? It’s a tough one to answer sometimes. It has been in my thoughts and recent discussions with friends and family. I honestly don’t know that I have an absolute answer.

It is no secret that the Christian life requires faith. It requires full out trust in a God whom we cannot see with our human eyes, nor touch with our hands. I admit, sometimes that can be difficult, especially in the really dark times. It is in life’s painful moments, that our faith is tested. Do we only trust Him in the good times? Can we really trust Him in the bad times? Does He really love me and want only what’s best for me? How could Lori’s story be the best for her? How could that be good in any way? My human mind struggles at times to comprehend it. I read the Bible, I BELIEVE the Bible, I have faith that every word is true, but my human reasoning sometimes gets in the way of my faith and trust.

My mom says that one thing she regrets about raising her children was not teaching us that “life is hard.” I really don’t think that she needed to teach us that. I mean sooner or later we all learn that. Life is just hard sometimes. Finances, marriage, relationships, jobs, parenting, health. We all experience the hard times and that’s just the way life is. But I am a child of God. Do you know what that means? It means that he has PROMISED sufficient grace for me. It means that I CAN trust Him. It means during those time of “weakness, insults, distress, persecutions, and difficulties,” that it is an opportunity for me to help shine the light of God’s grace to a lost world. That during these times I can rest in assurance that His grace is perfected in my weakness. When I am at my weakest, it is then that I am strong with His grace and unfailing love. These are the promises to cling to in the rough patches of life.

Sufficient grace doesn’t mean that there will no hurt. There will always be hurt. It means that we have One to run to, to cling to, to cry to, when life gets too hard. Life IS hard at times, that won’t change. But my faith and trust is in a God that loves me, even when I don’t understand. Even when I fail and the doubt and fear creep in and even when I can’t see Him or trace His hand in a situation, His Word always remains true. And that’s what I’m clinging too!

*To finish the story … Lori now has been blessed with a healthy, beautiful little boy. God’s grace. And thank you to Lori for sharing your story to inspire others to glorify God in the rough times.

If you liked this post, you may also like More Than I Can Bear.

Tuesday Tip – Being a Mommy

How do you be a mommy and have fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome? Well, that is a big question! And one I am going to try and answer in this blog post. My answers will stem from my personal experience which may be very different than yours, but hopefully you will be able to relate to my tips for today.

First of all, I got sick BEFORE I became a mom. I could barely take care of myself in the first two years of illness. I never would have been able to care for little ones during that time. I am so thankful that it happened in this order. I can see how devastating a fibromyalgia diagnosis would be in the middle of trying to raise a family. It would change everything, including relationships with your kids. There was a time when I didn’t know if I could ever handle being a mother because I was so sick, but God has blessed us more than I ever imagined. When we decided to have children, we knew full well that fibro/cfs would be a big part of parenthood and we felt prepared to handle things in spite of the illness.

Family is Priority.
I choose to “save” my energy for my family by saying no to other things in my life. I want my kids to have the best of me, not the leftovers. I guess this could apply to anyone, but illness forces me to make a conscious decision. I choose to spend my limited energy and try to focus on the people that matter most to me. I was telling a friend the other day, that I am constantly calculating my schedule. I am rationing my energy and trying to save some for the busy times. I try to schedule a “rest” time in my day, sometime after lunch, while kids are napping or reading, so that I can get refueled for the dinner, bath, and bedtime hours because those are the most hectic parts of the day. I don’t want to be so spent that I can’t participate in these routines. I only have these little people at home with me for a short season of life and I am doing my best to make the most of it.

Plan, Plan, Plan.
You all know how I am a little addicted to lists! I love them! I take some time at the beginning of each day and write myself a list of things that need to be done. I prioritize and start with the most pressing thing first. You can’t count on having energy later in the day to get things done. You never know when the energy will give out and a crash will come so, making a list and planning allows me some freedom to choose where my energy is most needed. Dinner hour is always a challenge for any mother. So, I have a little tip for you. I had a seasoned mother tell me that when your head hits the pillow at night, you should already know what you are having for dinner the next day. Dinner time is not a surprise – it happens every single day, so don’t let it sneak up on you. If you aren’t prepared then this can be the most stressful part of the day. And we all know what stress does to our bodies! Little ones are cranky when they are hungry. So, be prepared and get ahead of the game. This makes it easier on everyone in the whole family.

Ask for help or hire help.
I have extremely helpful parents and a husband who also is willing to jump in when I need him. They don’t know when I am in a flare. I have to tell them. Yes, at times it seems ridiculous (it’s not), but I have to just spell it out. “I am not doing well today. I need your help. Here is how you can help me the most. Is that something you can do for me?” Don’t beat around the bush. Nothing is more frustrating than assuming your loved ones know how you are feeling. They don’t. Most of the time my husband and parents are more than willing and able to assist me when all I can do is lay on the couch. When they aren’t able to help, well then, nothing gets done and that is just gonna be OK for today. If you can afford to hire some help, my opinion is that it is money wisely spent. Cleaning is the one thing that zaps every last piece of energy out of me. When Christmas, birthday, mother’s day, etc… rolls around I will often ask for the funds or gift certificates for someone to help me clean house. It’s not that I don’t like to clean, I think I am quite good at it, it just robs me of my day and then I have nothing left to give my family. Keeping up with the day to day clutter and everyday dishes/laundry/food prep for seven people is a fulltime job by itself. Hiring assistance for the deep weekly or monthly cleaning gives me a whole day’s worth of energy back. Totally worth it.

Sleep and rest.
Make sleep a priority. Not getting enough sleep not only affects my symptoms, but it makes me grouchy. Have you heard the expression, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? 🙂 Well, I believe it is so true that the mom often sets the tone for the whole house. When I don’t get enough sleep, I am grouchy and don’t feel well and then my whole family is affected. I know we all have sleep issues, but I am saying that what we are able to control, should be made a priority.

Prioritize Good Health.
As moms, we often put our own health on the back burner because we are so focused on taking care of everyone else. With chronic illness, we cannot afford to do that! I know there is little about fibro that we can control, but there are some things we can do in pursuit of wellness. We need to make sure we are taking our meds, supplements, and vitamins to keep us the best we can possibly be in spite of the illness. Also, eating right and exercising when we are able are ways we can take care of our bodies. We need to get yearly physical exams and follow ups with our physician concerning medications and blood work. We have some important people depending on us and making our health a priority will only help us be better for our kids!

Letting go of ideals.
Ah, this is a tough one. It’s hard for me. I want so badly to give mothering everything I’ve got. To do it well. To do it right! But I can’t do it the way I want to do it, so I have to let go of the ideal. This is actually a good thing, another blessing in disguise. Having to surrender my mothering because of illness has taught me a valuable lesson. I can’t do it all on my own. Healthy or sick, I shouldn’t be striving to do it all in my own strength anyway. Trusting God daily to show me how to be the best mother that I can be. Asking for practical wisdom and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading as I guide these little people into adulthood. It’s a privilege. And I am stubborn enough to try to do this in my own power – to be the perfect mom and have all the answers. But being sick keeps me from this self righteous attitude. And in hindsight, I am grateful for it.

Prayer.
My list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that God is control of it all. He sees our struggles. He knows how often we feel like failures, how hard we are trying, how it hurts us to not be the mother we desire to be, and how lonely it can feel when we don’t have the support that we want and some days we feel like we just can’t do it. Bring it all to God and lay it at His feet. He hears us, He loves us, He knows our pain. He doesn’t promise to take it away, but He does promise grace that is sufficient to get us through the tough times. Take it all to Him it prayer.

I know our day to day lives are unpredictable and I also know that between all of us who are reading this blog there are great differences along the spectrum of these syndromes. This illness shows up differently in each individual person that it attacks, but I hope that if you are a struggling fibromyalgia mom that you found something useful here today. If you have any other tips or stories you want to share with us about motherhood and illness, please do!

Thanks for reading! Blessings!
~Ann