Yesterday I sat by my fireplace wrapped in three blankets. And a bathrobe. Drinking coffee. And it was 50 degrees outside. Yeah, I’m cool like that.
All snuggled and warm, my mind drifted to memories of last year. My first winter on autoimmune meds completely changed the way I functioned. The cold weather suddenly presented an entirely new problem for me: sick season. I was scared straight with the never ending list of risks and side effects, creating a bout of anxiety for my compromised immune system.
So every year when the weather begins to chill, I give a half-hearted wave to the world and tuck myself in for a long winter nap. I spent the majority of last winter in self-induced hibernation, away from the public, reluctantly canceling plans with friends who had a sniffle. I felt like I had to screen guests with a “symptom questionnaire” before they were even allowed to enter my home.
That first winter was a very lonely season. But it was also a surprising season of transformation. Continue reading
We’ve all heard the story. We make pilgrim hats and dress our tables with turkey. But Thanksgiving is more than just Pilgrims and Native Americans eating together in harmony. It’s more than positive thinking and counting our blessings. Perhaps we’re so familiar with the story that we forget what really happened. Before the big feast.
Though it’s been told a thousand times, this story is near to my heart. It’s not just an American story. It is my story. You see, my relative was there that First Thanksgiving. He was one of those pilgrims who sailed the Mayflower, braved the new world, and shared a meal with the Wampanoag Tribe. A man who started a long line of descendants in the land of the free and home of the brave. To me, this is not just a story on a page in a history book. It really happened. To real people. To my family, generations ago. To a man who experienced real emotions, tragedies, and fears.
So stick with me as I retell the tale that could redefine your view of Thanksgiving this year. It is a story of hope. A story of providence. But most of all, the First Thanksgiving is a story of untarnished joy. Continue reading
It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!
Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.
Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was slightly disturbing and fascinating all at the same time.
How could death be so beautiful?
I was compelled to rustle through my memory from the old school days when we learned about the abscission of deciduous trees (science words make my head hurt). If the trees were going to survive the season, they must toughen up and dispose of their leaves. Not only is the loss of the leaves important but the nutrients that are received from that loss, and the chance for regrowth, is what guarantees longevity and new life in the spring.
I’ll be honest. Science makes me yawn. But as I gazed at the foliage, God whispered in my heart. There was something I needed to learn from the leaves. Continue reading
Sometimes I find it difficult to be patient and wait for God’s timing when I want it now. Your it could be a number of things, but what seems to be universally difficult is continuing to wait while others around me seem to be getting the it that I want. It’s easy to wonder if perhaps God forgot about me when he was passing out hearts’ desires. Enter temptation. It would be easy to bypass God and take matters into my own hands. Easy, but not advisable.
This seems to happen often. A clear picture of this can be seen in the story of Saul. Israel wanted a king. In fact, they felt they needed one. Not only did all the other nations have one, but they were being surrounded by the mighty Philistines and needed a leader to protect them. They were tired of waiting on God to do something, so they took the matter into their own hands. God must have forgotten us, they reasoned, so we should look out for ourselves. Their rejection of God’s timing and their impatience led them to “do what was right in their own eyes”. And scary yet, they probably felt it was the logical, right decision too.
But worst of all was their rejection of God as their King. “The Lord said ‘It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king’” (1 Sam 8:7). God had shown Himself reliable over and over again. He delivered them, yet they forgot Him. He provided, yet they doubted. He led, but they wouldn’t follow. Instead of trusting and waiting on their God who had proven Himself to them time and time again, they rejected Him as leader, provider, protector, and decision-maker.
How often do we do this? How often do we get tired of waiting for God to act, to come through, to provide what we need? How often do we forget all the ways He has already proven that He can be trusted and that He is able?
When we want something we don’t have that we feel we need, we get impatient. We get downright demanding.
Looking over my life, I find there are a few things at play in those critical moments. Continue reading
Fighting for my health day in and day out gets old after awhile. I’m tired of always having to be on my game. Wear a mask in the doctor’s office, avoid friends and family who are sick, carefully watch food preparation, keep the house disinfected, be vigilant about washing and using hand sanitizer until your hands feel raw. This way of living can create a sense of exhaustion, frustration, and loneliness. I hate that my energy gets depleted so quickly and that my ability to fight infection is low enough that it changes the way I live. Though we don’t voice it often, we wonder how long this will last and if it will ever get better. With all the current risks, it’s hard to silence the nagging fear in the back of our minds that we might not get to grow old together. After awhile, living with disease begins to take its toll.
But I am learning a new perspective on what is good. For over a year I have prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to restore me to full health. My husband has also prayed every single day that God would heal me of my autoimmune disease. But I am still sick. Continue reading
At some point in our lives we will all experience a tragedy, a physical illness, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a dream. In these moments, doubts and questions will arise. How could this happen? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How am I ever going to survive this? Where is God in all of this?
I have been there. Three times, in fact. My father suddenly died in his 40’s, leaving me to pick up the pieces of my shattered teenage heart. In college, I battled a dark depression that threatened to undermine my faith, my mind, and my emotional well being. And recently, with the rapid decline of my physical health and diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. Did I really trust God to take care of me? Could I really depend on Him to provide what I needed? If He really cared about me, why was He letting me suffer? I knew He could heal me, but could I keep my faith even if He chose not to? Do I still believe God is good and loving even when He doesn’t step in to relieve my suffering? These questions haunted me.
But these questions saved my life. Continue reading
It started out as a normal summer day and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Hubs and I had just purchased our very first home. And it was yellow. I had prayed for yellow. Moving day was set, our boxes packed. We were moving right along with our list of goals: New house, check. Jobs, check. Furniture, check. Search for a dog, check. Our future was looking bright.
And then it happened. Something didn’t feel quite right. My energy started to fail and I found myself getting easily fatigued. Over the next few weeks my knees began to swell until they became the size of cantaloupes. As the swelling increased, the pain grew. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand, it hurt to move.
I spent my 30th birthday and a good part of that year battling a crippling disease. Instead of gracefully waltzing into a new decade, I hobbled my way through. Within two weeks of our move I became confined to our couch, utterly fatigued without even enough energy to make myself a sandwich. Even hobbling across the floor to the bathroom became a tremendous feat. My body was rapidly breaking down before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do about it. Continue reading