Jesus Today (A Blog Giveaway!!)

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This little book is a gem!  My mom gave it to me several weeks ago and said, “Here, I picked up this little devotional book for you.  I think the lady that wrote it has chronic fatigue syndrome.”    I thought it sounded interesting so, I started reading from the beginning where Sarah Young explains her journey with chronic fatigue syndrome and then Lyme disease.

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Sarah Young is also the author of the ever popular Jesus Calling book.  I really enjoyed that one too!

And her Jesus Today book is even better!  At least to me it is, because it speaks directly to one who is going through suffering.  It is a daily devotional type book with a small reading written by Sarah and then several Scriptures that go directly along with her writings.  A very short, daily read, but it has spoken to my soul so deeply.  She writes from a place of pain, but peppered with so much grace.

The last 8-9 months have been plain awful for me.  I am having NEW symptoms, some added diagnosis, and lots of testing.  I haven’t felt this bad in a very long time.  And this is in stark contrast to the several good months I had at the end of last year.  Needless to say, I have had some very dark days and this book has been such an encouragement to me.  I will eventually blog about what is going on with my health.  Stay tuned.  I have learned so much through my new doctor and we have gotten to some root problems through lots of testing and lots of trial and error.  Not feeling better yet, but we now have a game plan.

I encourage every one of my readers that is facing chronic illness to get your hands on a copy of Jesus Today if you can.  It will put a small little spot of sunshine and understanding in your day.  And because I love this book so much, I am having my first blog giveaway!!!!  I will be giving away TWO copies of Jesus Today and I am VERY excited about it.  My gift to you!  So, here’s what you need to know:

Just leave a comment in the comments section, right here on this blog post, by Friday, October 4, 2013 at midnight EST.  There are no tricks or anything.  I am not looking for new blog traffic, just want to offer my readers a little gift.  So, your comment doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  Just say something like, “I would love to win a copy of Jesus Today!”  After the deadline, I will randomly choose two winners.  It will be random, I promise!!!  Come back to my blog on Monday, October 7, 2013, to see if you are one of the winners.  This giveaway will only be open to my readers in the USA.  I apologize to my overseas friends, but for the sake of shipping costs, this is limited to those of us here in America.  However, I highly encourage all my international readers to visit your local Christian bookstore and see if you can pick up a copy.  I am in no way profiting from my publicity of this book.  I just love it so much and I wanted you all to know!

Blessings!  Now leave a comment and enter the giveaway!
Ann

P.S.  I will send reminders of this giveaway periodically through my Facebook Page.  If you have not “liked” my page yet, go here and do so.  It’s a great way to interact with other readers!!!

Wisdom in 2013

Ferguson Family 2012

Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Truth be told, I had planned a “Merry Christmas” blog post and then an actual “Happy New Year” post on New Year’s Day. Well, here we are on January 17 and I am finally getting to it! I hope you all had a blessed holiday season. Time off work, spending time with family, sleeping in, and baking treats OR just laying on the couch watching the festivities around you. Holidays can be tough for us. I enjoyed mine. But the thing I enjoyed the most was the absence of the stressful schedules, routines, running around, etc… We spent lots of time resting, watching movies, sleeping in, being with family, and enjoying life instead of watching it race by.

There is a verse that keeps coming to mind and has been filtering my thoughts for the past few months. I’ve decided to go ahead make it my theme for this year of 2013.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

I have been struggling lately. It’s a good struggle. I have been feeling well – no, not normal well, just lots of good days strung together. (I think my supplements are helping!) But when I feel well the struggle comes to pace myself. I have recently let life get too “busy”. And for someone with cfs/fibro that is waaaaaaay dangerous. Too many things going on, too many decisions to make, too many irons in the fire, too many goals, too much stress, too much participation. Something needs to be cut out. I have learned these lessons before, but as you know sometimes life just happens. And I am actively making the decision to “cut back” before that decision is made for me. It is not worth ruining my health. So, I am faced with some decisions as to what to eliminate from my life.

This verse is my new year’s “resolution”. It is special to me, because as I pray this verse, I am asking God to give me wisdom in my daily life decisions.

What needs to be eliminated, what needs to stay?
What steps need to be made this year toward better health?
How can I help myself be in the best health and treat the symptoms of fibro/cfs?
What doctors should I visit? What supplements should I take?
What part of me needs to be serving others? or reserved for my family?
Am I well enough to start helping the family income?
How can I spend my time drawing closer to God? to show His love to others?

As I process these thoughts and commit them to prayer, I will be praying this verse. I am confidant the Holy Spirit will guide me through the decisions that need to be made – even if it means saying “no” to things that I love. I strive to put my relationship with God and my family first, but the priorities after that sometimes get jumbled. I need wisdom! And God has so graciously promised it!

What are some of your “resolutions” this new year? Do you have a theme verse to start this year new and fresh to help guide you? How about a theme verse for chronic illness? Please share that with us!

I pray that you all will be filled with wisdom as you journey through illness. Ask for it. God may provide healing or He may just fill you with wisdom for treating the worst symptoms.

Love and Blessings,
Ann

I blogged about this topic last year for Rest Ministries. If you care to read more about it, click here.

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.

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

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 🙂