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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

On This Ash Wednesday

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of SiraAnamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SiraAnamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lent begins again, so quickly! Seems like we just celebrated Christmas, with all the joy and light, and are now abruptly throwing that off for something much more somber. At time of atonement, soul-searching, and personal, spiritual cleansing.

But do we truly need to forget Christmas? Do we have to proceed into this Lent with heavy hearts and eyes and ears closed to more uplifting thoughts and actions?

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Could it be that there is some joy in the soul-searching? Something positive in our atonement?

For me, Ash Wednesday is the herald of a season that I enter into eagerly, with hope and anticipation. It is a time of turning back to God, of taking more moments and long stretches of hours to examine my relationship with Our Lord and ways to make it ever stronger, ever present in my daily life. This particular year, a Jubilee Year with a focus on mercy, is also an invitation to improve the ways I interact with others, help others, and communicate with others.  This is wonderful, not at all somber and heavy-hearted. More time with God! More time trying to improve as a person! What a gift!

So, although the ashes might make a very dark smudge at the center of my forehead, they also feather outward and dust downward, a reminder that this is a holy time and also a hopeful time, a blessed gift and an opportunity.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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Being Good to Your Heart

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s Heart Health month, and no time like the present to think about being good to your heart, inside and out. Of course, we know the usual things: Having regular check-ups, knowing the signs of a heart attack or stroke, eating healthfully, not smoking, exercising regularly (with our doctors’ advice and guidance). But these things can become so “usual” that we might forget why we’re doing them. And when we lose motivation to pursue good heart health, we might risk dropping good habits, which can be tough to commit to in a busy and sedentary world.

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So, this brief post is meant to remind us of why it’s important to be good to our hearts.

Our hearts are mechanical marvels, muscles that pump whether we are awake or asleep. Helping them be as healthful as possible means that we are also helping ourselves live, breathe, and be at our best.

Our hearts are the driving physical force to enable us to achieve our goals, reach and stretch, do and dream.

Our hearts give us the energy and vitality to be able to engage in prayer and help others, to endure what we thought we could not and to rise above adversity.

Our hearts are a precious gift from God. They are amazing. And the more we are good to them, the more we will be able to do!

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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Chronic Illness: In Advance

posted by mpratt

Second close-up of pictureThe tests I mentioned in an earlier post went very well, and I’m “out the other side” of that particular challenge! And one of the things that helped bring about smooth sailing was what I did in advance of even going out the front door.

In my upcoming new book, Don’t Panic!: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough (which is available now for pre-order on Amazon), I talk a lot about how we prepare to meet crises. Not that we walk around thinking, “The sky is going to fall, I know it!” But that we take steps to make ourselves as strong as we possibly can before a crisis occurs (and we all know that one or more crisis will occur in each of our lives at some time!).

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For the tests I had to have recently, for example, I took some steps to bring a bit of comfort and something distracting. I’ve done this before; once, when I was first diagnosed with lupus and had to go through tests that took the better part of a day (with lots of waiting around time), I took decks of children’s card games (Go Fish!, Old Maid, etc.) and friends took turns visiting with me and playing the games. We were quite a sight – a group of adults intent on being the first to gather all the like card of Go Fish!  But the distraction helped tremendously, and the activity was a lot of fun.

Anyway, this time, for comfort, I took a couple of snack bars, a container of warm water with honey, and a bottle of water, some socks and a cap for my head. For distraction, I took something to read that was far off-topic of the subject of my tests. These preparations truly helped bring even more calm, and I also spent much time praying and thinking of far-flung friends and favorite places.

With serious chronic illnesses, we usually cannot avoid long stretches of time in waiting rooms or undergoing tests, but what we do in advance can help take away much of the stress.

Smooth sailing is a wonderful thing when you’re headed into choppy waters!

Peace,

Maureen

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Chronic Illness: How We Give

posted by mpratt

Second close-up of pictureWhen you have a chronic illness, and associated expenses and unexpected health upsets, it can be hard to figure out how to give to those who are less fortunate (and, yes, although it might be hard to imagine, there are many people who are less fortunate than even the sickest among us!). There might not be enough money in the household budget for meds, copays, and other expenses, and it might be impossible to give time and effort on an ongoing, consistent, regular basis, especially in our church communities. Yet, the pressure is there. And sometimes, I have heard of sad stories of people who are chronically ill being challenged by others that “they can give a little more” or “if they really cared, they’d give more money/time/effort.” I’ve personally encountered negative comments when I respond, “No, I cannot donate blood,” to questions/urgings to participate in blood donation drives, as if I’m making an excuse rather than being truly unable!

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Oh, my, where do I begin?…

Each of us does, I believe, have certain gifts from God that are meant to be used. These include talents and treasure, time and effort. These gifts do not abandon us when we are diagnosed with a chronic illness, however how we use them (or are able to use them) might change drastically and seemingly with regularity as our health challenges wax, wane, and carry on.

One of the things I’ve found most helpful with my particular situation is to wake each day commiting to doing one thing to help someone else. Whether that “thing” is as simple as to smile on someone who looks downcast or collect unused possessions and give them for charity, I’ve found there is always something I can give and that nothing we give is too small (much to the contrary of those who would insist otherwise).

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It is within each of us to discern whether we are avoiding the issue of giving and hiding behind our health conditions or truly intent on finding that “one thing” each day. It is within each of us, too, to figure out how to keep body and soul together, taking stock of our resources and using them wisely.

Yes, how we give is a very personal thing. God knows our hearts. And if we encounter those who would criticize us, well, the one thing we can do? Pray for them, too.

Peace,

Maureen

Previous Posts

On This Ash Wednesday
Lent begins again, so quickly! Seems like we just celebrated Christmas, with all the joy and light, and are now ...

posted 7:09:34pm Feb. 10, 2016 | read full post »

Being Good to Your Heart
It's Heart Health month, and no time like the present to think about being good to your heart, inside and out. Of course, ...

posted 7:00:36pm Feb. 09, 2016 | read full post »

Chronic Illness: In Advance
The tests I mentioned in an earlier post went very well, and I'm "out the other side" of that particular challenge! And one of the things that helped bring about smooth sailing was what I did in advance of even going out the front door. In my ...

posted 6:46:52pm Feb. 08, 2016 | read full post »

Chronic Illness: How We Give
When you have a chronic illness, and associated expenses and unexpected health upsets, it can be hard to figure out how to give to those who are less fortunate (and, yes, although it might be hard to imagine, there are many people who are less ...

posted 5:20:22pm Feb. 06, 2016 | read full post »

Chronic Illness: Prayer that Travels
I am about to leave for a long and no doubt fatiguing test. I didn't expect to have to fit this into my week, but, well, as you know, with chronic illness "thing happen." I'll take all the necessary paperwork and cards, a cap for my head when I ...

posted 5:13:21pm Feb. 04, 2016 | read full post »

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