A Martha becoming a Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Before chronic illnesses slowed me down, my hubby called me the “Energizer Bunny” because I kept going and going and going. I was also very much a Martha go, go, go and do, do, do, the hostess with the mostest, involved in many church activities, walking, going to the gym, swimming, gardening, hosting smaller and all church events at our home that I also made sure were perfectly decorated.

In my Martha state, I was constantly fussing about how everything was done and worrying about the impressions I made on people. I spent time in the Word to prepare for Bible studies I attended to make sure I was more prepared and excelling more than others attending. I was forever concerned about what people thought of me, wanting to make the right impression with my looks, my actions, my words and my abilities. Life was frantic, distracted, fear filled and frenzied much more often than it was peaceful, focused, relaxed and faith filled.

My life suddenly changed in 2009. That November I fell while photographing fall leaves when I stepped into a pothole concealed by colorful autumn leaves. I ended up needing eleven stitches on my split open knee. After one dose of sulfa antibiotics I landed in ER with my first anaphylactic reaction. Next thing I knew I was reacting to all sorts of things I had previously tolerated. Fragrances , chemicals, cleaners, toothpastes and many foods suddenly were no longer tolerated. I began feeling like the girl in the bubble. After shuffling from doctors over the next few years received multiple diagnosis including chronic blood cancer, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome(MVAS) and A connective tissue disorder called Ehler Danlos.

As my symptoms increased and my energy ebbed, I really began seeking God, crying out to Him for answers and to show me how to live in this new normal. It was a really hard season of fading health, numerous unknowns and lack of strength to do all I did before. God met me through time in His Word and in prayer. Many sleepless nights due to insomnia, induced by high doses of steroids, were spent studying His Word and in prayer. I began to desire to truly know God and His character. My dear hubby was faithful to often remind me that God has sovereignly ordained us to be together and that we will walk together as a couple through whatever He sovereignly allowed in our lives, including chronic illness, to glorify our God. In this season, I began learning more and more about God’s character. I began to grasp He was Sovereign, holy, faithful, wise, just and good no matter what my circumstances happened to be. God began to help me memorize scriptures and enabled me to apply them to my life. This really strengthened my walk and grew my love for Him. As I spent more time at His feet, He began transforming me from an ultra Martha to a bit of a Mary. During this time of unknown yet failing health, He revealed to me He is most concerned about my eternal good and my being conformed to the image of His Son.

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Romans 8:28-29

God met me in amazing ways through examples in family members and friends as well as in His word and prayer. One friend greatly impacted me fairly early in my chronic illness walk, as she and her hubby sat in our home crying tears of joy at all the many ways God has met them and blessed them as she went through surgery, chemo and radiation for breast cancer. That same spring I read two books that greatly impacted me One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Between my friends examples, personal Bible studies and my reading I saw the choice before me. I then purposed in March 2011 and asked God to enable me, regardless of my circumstances, to be a woman of joy and gratitude that ever sits at your feet. I am so grateful for the most part God has answered this request. At the time I did not think of it changing me into more of a Mary, but was one result of that answered prayer.

I am thankful I can trust in His faithfulness and goodness and to know His plans are for my eternal best and realize our earthly life is just a blip in eternity. I honestly believe if God had not slowed me down with various chronic illnesses, I would still be the Energizer Bunny version of a Martha. While lack of energy and symptoms may prevent me from doing many things, most days I can sit at His precious feet, be fed by His Word and pray as the Holy Spirit directs. I am at peace, have joy and gratitude, laugh easily and am so much more relaxed. I am now grateful for any help and even if not done “my way” to accomplish the task as it truly no longer matters. Our marriage is better than ever and we enjoy each other, appreciate each other and love each other more than before. Laughter is frequent and we joke about the plot twists in our life. Now when we have guests over the focus is how to bless them and make them feel our home is a safe, loving haven where before my focus was on how to impress. Sometimes my house is a bit messy and God has even used that to make people feel comfortable and makes me seem more approachable.There are days when I take my eyes off of my precious Savior and put them on me and my circumstances. There are days I must fight for joy and gratitude. I have purposed on those days to think of at least three things I am grateful for and either say them aloud or write them down. That seems to redirect my gaze back to Him, the lover of my soul, the One who sustains me and fills me with His joy, peace and hope.

While I would love to be healed, my prayer is that if God allowed it, I would not forget His using chronic illness to slow me down to transform me into much more of a Mary. The joy, peace, laughter, confidence and freedom from fears I now have from my Lord are of much greater value to me than perfect health. My devotion to my Jesus, my gratitude, my love for the gospel of grace, my compassion for the sufferings of others, love of His Word and prayer have all grown immensely as a result of chronic illness. I can say as the Psalmist said

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71

I would honestly choose to be a chronically ill Mary any day over going back to my former healthy but fearful frantic Martha state. May His transforming grace continually be at work in all of us!

Blessings,

Deb

Advertisements

The Master Weaver

I have recently taken up needlepoint again and began reflecting on how it looks on the back side versus the front. As I pondered, it brought back to memory the poem The Master Weaver of unknown (and as I was researching today, of conflicting origin) that was made famous by Corrie Ten Boom author of The Hiding Place and other books.

The Master Weaver

My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas

And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;

Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives the very best to those

Who leave the choice to Him.

We, while still on this earth see through a glass dimly but will see perfectly when we see Jesus face to face. Our sight is limited by earthly limitations and we cannot fathom the beautiful picture God is creating out of our lives.

A picture without contrast of colors and dark and lights is boring and doesn’t display as well. My dad was an artist and worked in a printing company that did mainly advertising. Colors, contrast and light scale were all very important to get the message across. Yet we often find ourselves complaining as God weaves in the “needful dark threads” of pain, suffering, grief and hard circumstances. I do not know what dark threads God is including in the tapestry of your life, but I firmly believe even when I don’t see or understand the dark ones He is weaving into mine, that He is still faithful, good, wise and sovereign and knows how best to conform me to the image of His Son.

When you only see a small section of the back is even more confusing than looking at the entire back side. Or if you only see the dark areas you lose sight of the bright cheery ones.

And here is entire backside of the needlepoint. You can get an idea of what it will be but cannot fully capture the details. Much like as later in life when we look back and remember all the things God has done in our lives and brought us through.

One of my favorite Bible stories is about David at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30.

David has just returned from battle with his mighty men to discover an enemy had burned their homes then kidnapped all their women and children. His men are distraught, as I am sure David was also since he had two wives taken. His men were threatening mutiny and talking about stoning David. How did David react?

1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire

2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way.

3 And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.

4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.

5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.

6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. – 1 Samuel 30:1-6

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Another version says “he encouraged himself in the Lord”. I imagine he was looking back over his life how God has helped him as a shepherd boy deal with lions and bears oh my! Recalling when as a young ruddy cheeked boy he killed the giant Goliath with a stone from his sling with God’s help. Also he may have thought of his many skirmishes with the mad King Saul and the Philistines. His faith was strengthened as He remembered God’s care in previous hard times and he was encouraged to have hope in this present very dark situation. In a way, David examined the tapestry he had seen woven so far by God in his life.

So when hard times come, do we only focus on the current dark thread or do we see the many colored, darks and lights of your life to this point? Do we remember how God has met us in previous dark times?

May you and I, like David, be able to strengthen and encourage ourselves in the LORD. May we remember our Master Weaver is creating a beautiful masterpiece from our lives for His glory.

Corrie Ten Boom and The Weaver

Blessings,

Deb

Pray and Expect the Unexpected

“in your prayers, above everything else, beware of limiting God, not only through unbelief but also by thinking you know exactly what He can do. Learn to expect the unexpected, beyond all that you ask or think. Each time you intercede through prayer, first be quiet and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, how He delights in Christ His Son, and of your place in Him. Then expect great things.”

– Andrew Murray

The other day a friend posted the above  Andrew Murray quote on social media and it really stirred me. When stirred, I tend write and search scriptures as I process. So welcome to my disjointed processing.

Lord, do I think and pray like you are a limited God or do I expect You to work in unexpected ways? Do I think I know exactly what you can and should do or operate in unbelief?

 

Waiting

I have been waiting for a diagnosis or explanation for my chemical sensitivity and Mast cell symptoms since November 2009. I entered a more felt season of waiting when finally saw a doctor on August 18, 2017 who understood my issues. I have been waiting for diagnosis, waiting for open registration on the insurance marketplace, waiting for January 1 and insurance to begin and now on January 15, 2018 I am still waiting for a referral from a PCP (who know little about me because my main doctor is out of network) so I can finally schedule a bone marrow biopsy to hopefully get a clear diagnosis.

Waiting, waiting and more waiting!! Patience is not something I have prayed for nor is waiting my strong suit. God is showing me that I need to only wait on Him. But how do I wait on God in the midst of a long season of waiting?

First I need to remember that God is Sovereign and has all my days numbered in His book before even a one began. In Psalms 139 we read:

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! – Psalm 139:14-17

Another verse I often go to in this season is Psalms 27:14.

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! – Psalm 27:14

When looking up this verse in my favorite online Bible Study tool Bible hub, I did a word study on the word “wait” in Psalms 27:14.

So this word study shows me that waiting on God is something that is done eagerly, expectantly with hope and patience. I do have confidence in God’s sovereignty, His goodness, wisdom and faithfulness which can give me hope.

I then went on to look at the commentaries on Psalm 27:14 and hear are some snippets of insights from them.

Benson Commentary:

“wait on God by faith and prayer, and in an humble resignation to his will.”

“Keep up thy spirits in the midst of thy greatest dangers and difficulties: let thy heart be fixed, trusting in God, and thy mind stayed on him, and then none of these things will move thee.”

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

“Let us look unto the suffering Saviour, and pray in faith, not to be delivered into the hands of our enemies. Let us encourage each other to wait on the Lord, with patient expectation, and fervent prayer.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“The object is to induce others, from the experience of the psalmist, to trust in the Lord; to rely upon Him; to come to Him in trouble and danger; to wait for His interposition when all other resources fail.”

“Be of good courage – The Hebrew word here means, “be strong.” That is, do not faint. Do not be dismayed. Still hope and trust in the Lord.

He shall strengthen thine heart – He will strengthen “thee.” He will enable you to perform your duties, and to triumph over your enemies.”

Treasury of David:

“Wait on the Lord.” Wait at his door with prayer; wait at his foot with humility; wait at his table with service; wait at his window with expectancy. Suitors often win nothing but the cold shoulder from earthly patrons after long and obsequious waiting; he speeds best whose patron is in the skies.”

Waiting on God is not passive, resigned or hopeless. It is actively fixing my heart on God, fervently praying to Him, serving Him while residing in the hallway of waiting and above all waiting with expectant hope in the God of all hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

So while I continue to wait, I desire to continue to grow in my hopeful expectancy of my faithful God’s answers and care in His perfect time. May this season of waiting grow me in my faith, gratitude and Christ-likeness.

Would love to hear in the comments how God has met or taught you in seasons of waiting.

Blessings,

Deb

Pretending to be Normal

My life in recent years has changed greatly due to multiple chronic illnesses taking up residence in my body. My brain and emotions still feel normal even though my body doesn’t always respond.

I was recently asked in early December if I would like to host a dinner party in our home in appreciation of our church Life Group Leaders on January 5th . We were not planning on going out of town over the holidays and figured with hubby’s help could pick at it and be fine with it knowing would have a day or two of recovery afterwards.

The week before Christmas I looked at flight schedules to where our daughter and her family live and found a killer deal leaving Christmas Eve night. Only $82 for both of our round trips with taxes and everything. My hubby was the one preaching the sermon Sunday morning on Christmas Eve day, so leaving earlier not an option. We talked to our daughter and son-in-love and decided to go for it. Hubby could only stay until the 28the with work and church commitments but I booked my return flight for the morning of January 3.

The week before our trip I was doing a mad scramble trying to pack and get the a table runner and other decor made for the Dinner party. I made lists, meal plans and instructions for hubby to take Christmas tree down etc before I arrived home.

I had a wonderful ten days with my daughter’s family and so enjoyed the time with our four grandchildren between the ages of 6 months and 7 years old. Not sure if it was the lower elevation or joy of being with everybody but physically felt much better while I was there.

I arrived home mid morning on January 3 and life was a blur of trying to stuff reaction symptoms with meds, pushing through pain, cleaning, decorating and cooking. The other pastors and wives took care of prepping the prime rib and dessert which helped immensely. All was done with time to spare so we were able to relax for a few minutes before guests arrived. I popped some extra B-12 sublingual to give me energy and thoroughly enjoyed our evening. God blessed our goal of making the Life Group Leaders feeling blessed, refreshed and appreciated.

I slept or rested all day Saturday and went to church service Sunday morning and a reception that evening. Sunday night, as we returned home, I slammed into the proverbial wall and have been pretty much down for the count all this week. I am having pain, Mast cell reactions, and fighting a bug.

Several years ago I could have and did host many events in my home frequently without any impact. We were part of a church plant that met in a community center and later a school on Sundays so since we had a larger home and no kids at home, we hosted all church events as well as ladies bible studies, life group as well as frequent swim parties and BBQs. I thrived on it and loved every second of it.

When chronic illness struck I began having to count the cost on activities. I still love folks in our home and for the most part have smaller groups over and keep things very low key and simple. I think the masking of my pain by being on a pain medication since early November enabled me to feel better and I easily deceived myself into thinking I could once again do it all, like I was normal. And it was fun to pretend until it all came crashing down.

As I rest up this week, I am reminding myself, what I have shared on here before, to count the cost and decide on things based on eternal benefits and impacting others for Christ. I am also remembering my precious friend JoAnn, who passed away three months ago, always reminding me about not running out of spoons. I need another friend like her who understood limitations from her personal experience and was so fun, caring and full of faith to remind me. If you do not understand what that means read the Spoon Theory.

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

Would I do it again? Yes. But ask me again next week. 😉

I will include a few shots of the table runner I sewed and from my pretense of being normal. <><

hope all of you are all doing well and counting the cost of all you do in view of what matters in eternity.

Blessings,

Deb

Count it all Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2 ESV

I am once again doing another Bible Study through Love God Greatly. They will be doing the book of James beginning Monday January 15. I got a jump start on it today and was studying James 1:2.

https://lovegodgreatly.com

After writing down the verse and my observations I began a word study. The first word I looked at was “joy”. As I went onto Bible Hub and looked at the Strong’s Concordance tab for joy this is what I saw

I think what really struck me is that joy in the midst of trials is not giggly happiness but the awareness of God’s grace and favor in the midst of it. How has he met me? As I recount the many graces He has bestowed on me, gratitude and joy well up inside in spite of the circumstances.

Remembering these things listed below and so many other ways He has shown His grace and favor upon me, cause true joy to well up in my soul and builds my faith. May they enable you to have the joy of recognizing His grace and favor upon you even in the darkest and hardest times.

– He gives me peace that passes understanding.

– He has promised to always be with me.

– He strengthens my soul.

– He has sovereignly ordained my days for His purposes to work out my eternal good and bring Him glory.

– He will help, strengthen and uphold me.

Blessings,

Deb

Choosing Faith & Gratitude Amidst Pain

Father in heaven, you know the questions that weigh heavily upon my heart. Just as I rejoice that you have chosen me to be witness to your awesome might, help me move from childhood to maturity about my illness. Let me not resist your plan for me, but go willingly, proclaiming to all that you are God.

Maureen Pratt from her book Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain and Illness.

I have found the times pain consumes me my eyes are on myself. I am focused on me and am forgetful of all the pain and suffering my Jesus endured at Calvary. He chose out of His great love to suffer and die for me, for you to make a way to pay for our sins so we can become His children.

Lord, enable me to choose to count it all joy (James 1:1-4)even on the days when pain is intense, others are not understanding or supportive and the long days of what ifs as wait for tests and further diagnosis. Help me to build my faith by recounting and reciting the many promises in your word to change my focus and attitude. In future days of intense pain help me to not wallow in it but to find things to rejoice in and express gratitude

In the name of the one who suffered all thing, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Faith came singing into my room,

And other guests took flight:

Fear and Anxiety, Grief and Gloom

Sped out into the night.

I wondered that such peace could be,

But Faith said gently,”Don’t you see?

They really cannot live with me.”

Author Unknown

Page 29 Grace Grows Best in Winter