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

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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: Paul, Prison, and Paralympics

This is good stuff, really good stuff.  I hope you enjoy what Tanya has written for us today.  She is a very talented writer and I have enjoyed reading her blog Thorns and Gold.  Please take the time to check it out.  I know it will be a blessing to you.  She is a sister in Christ across the sea in the UK.  She suffers from ME, myalgic encephalomyelitis, or what we in the states call chronic fatigue syndrome.  Thank you to Tonya for sharing her thoughts today.  If this blesses you, please leave her some love in the comments!

Tanya Marlow is passionate about teaching the Bible, answering tricky questions of faith and training others to do this. In the past she has done this in student and church ministry and as Associate Director of the Peninsula Gospel Partnership (PGP) Bible training course in the UK. Right now she does it by reading Bible stories to her gorgeous toddler, as she learns what it means to be a stay-at-home mum who is also currently housebound with an autoimmune illness. Her blog, Thorns and Gold can be found at tanyamarlow.com where she writes about many things, but mainly the Bible, suffering, and the messy edges of life.

Paul, Prison and Paralympics

Korea_London_Olympic_Archery_Womenteam_20
I watched the Olympics medal ceremony, feeling a little tearful alongside the winners. It is amazing to celebrate with those who have achieved their goal, who have succeeded, who have conquered.

But I felt a bit sad as well, as I recalled some of the goals that I had had to leave behind because of illness.

  • I had always wanted to run a marathon.
  • I love singing opera; I had wanted to improve my singing.
  • I had wanted to write a best-selling book.
  • I had wanted to learn to make michelin-star quality desserts (okay – that’s a total lie; I’ve got no motivation or aptitude to cook and making desserts would be way down the list, somewhere after an MA in New Testament Greek, learning to barre chords properly on the guitar and not just play G, D and E minor, star in a local production of Les Miserables as Fantine, learn about art history, get a diploma in counselling).

I can’t do these things, and it is unlikely I will ever be able to do these. My M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis, sometimes known under the umbrella term of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has deteriorated to the extent that I am housebound, mainly bedbound, and I need help to look after my toddler. I have to limit my social activity and my brain activity.

Somehow the Paralympics can be even more depressing from this point of view. They’re disabled too – but they’re achieving amazing things! Me? I achieved getting dressed today – and it took me hours to even recover from that. Is there anyone who gives Olympic medals for taking a shower?

This morning I felt so acutely my weaknesses and limitations.

********
My Prison is an Open Cage

In my discouragement, I read Philippians.

“…I am in chains…” (Phil 1:13)

And then a light clicked on for me. I thought of the chains of my disability. I thought of Paul, imprisoned in his house, unable to preach the gospel openly. I thought of his goal to go to the far nations, to preach where the gospel had not gone before. I thought of his love of debate and dialogue, and being able to persuade people.

I paused reading. And suddenly I was Paul, stuck under house-arrest, seeing all of his hopes and desires for ministry wither away, his substantial gifts atrophying as he spent the hours in chains, counting the hours as they passed. I was Paul, thinking, ‘Has God rejected me? Did I get it wrong? Were the other apostles chosen rather than me? Was I being punished in some way?’

And then I was Paul, feeling that it was God who was at fault, God who had failed. Surely there was much more valuable work for him to be doing. If I were Paul, this is how I would have felt: God had got it wrong.

But God hadn’t got it wrong.

Paul being in prison meant that he couldn’t do as much preaching and travelling. The only way he could keep in touch with the churches to encourage them and continue in mission was to write. So he wrote – and as a result we have most of the New Testament today.

Out of a place of weakness, limitation, the world of small things, he left a legacy for thousands of generations.

Paul wasn’t to know this. Although he was probably aware that his words were scripture (2 Pet 3:16), he wasn’t to know how many thousands of people, how many languages his words would be translated into.

His writing, his second-choice mission activity was God’s way of enabling the scriptures to be written. His weakness was a means of God’s grace. His Plan B was God’s Plan A.

What we think of as our greatest achievements, may, in the light of eternity, be nothing.

What we think of as our weakness may, in the light of eternity, be our greatest achievement.

I go back to reading the passage and drink in Paul’s words:

“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21

And actually, in the end, it’s not about the achievements, whatever they end up being. Our life is in His hands, and whatever else we do we need to adore.

It’s not about thinking of the medals we’ve gained or lost but it’s about Jesus: the saviour who lost so we might receive and gave that we might gain.

Over to you:

  • What goals have you had to surrender because of illness or life circumstances?

Like this? Stay in touch with Tanya: Like the Thorns and Gold Facebook page here

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!!!

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!

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.

Peace, Be Still

My Inspiration:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
Matthew 4:39-41

My Thoughts:

What brings you peace? In a physical sense. What do you like to do that makes your body feel peaceful, relaxed, and tranquil? A massage? A nap? A good book? A nature walk? And does finding physical peace bring peace to your soul? For me it does! Putting myself in a position where my surroundings are peaceful, brings a peace to my heart and mind. An ability to think clearly, meditate, pray, or express gratefulness. To weed out the stresses and worries of life and bring a renewed focus on the things that are important.

Most of the time physical peace, for me, is silence. Pure, sweet silence. I crave it. (Kids are noisy!) Other times, I long for nature. Walking on a dirt road in the forest, sitting on top of a mountain and enjoying the view, watching the sunset at the beach or overlooking a field covered in fresh, white snow. Just the thought of doing these things make me feel more peaceful.

I am writing this blog from a bench that is along the bay waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I am overlooking a marina filled with beautiful, expensive yachts, listening to the birds, feeling the warm afternoon sun on my skin, and enjoying the ocean breeze. I feel peaceful. My body is relaxed. I am breathing fresh air and getting Vitamin D on my skin. I can hear my thoughts. They aren’t cluttered with the business of life. I thank God for this moment. I wish I could do this more often. It feels like therapy – medicine for the body and soul. God’s creation is so amazingly complex. At times it is powerful, today it is peaceful. I am reminded of the time that Jesus and His disciples were in the boat and a powerful storm was raging all around them. The disciples were scared, fearful. And Jesus calmed the raging seas with a simple “Peace, be still.”

Oh, Lord Jesus, let there be peace and stillness in my heart. Even amid the crazy and loud lifestyle. Even when there is pain, fatigue, and uncertainty. Even when the frustration over a body that won’t work is overwhelming. Even when there is deep heartache and loss. Even when the stresses of life seem so important. Help me to trust not only in the good times, but also in the storms. And to know that You are in control of it all.

Running The Race

My Inspiration:

Hebrews 12:1-2

…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My Thoughts:

I used to be an athlete. I could beat most of my peers in any type of sprint (we didn’t have track) and I played on my high-school basketball team. I wasn’t that great of a player, but I was extremely competitive and tenacious on the court and I still have some skills that can keep up with my hubby in a game of “horse”. 🙂 Since diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, I no longer do anything overly aerobic. I can still shoot hoops with the kids in the driveway, but Continue reading

Keeping Focus

My Inspiration:
Mary Did You Know? 
By Mark Lowry

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
The blind will see. The deaf will hear. The dead will live again.
The lame will leap. The dumb will speak. The praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

My Thoughts:

This time of year always bring reflection. As a believer, I find myself reflecting on the true meaning of the season, which is the celebration and remembrance of Christ’s birth. This song is such a great reminder of that. My kids have been walking around the house singing this song almost every day. I love it! Catchy little tune, but packed with a powerful picture of God’s perfect incarnation Continue reading