Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Lent’s Call

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy the people who know you, Lord,

who walk in the radiance of your face.

    Psalm 89:16

 

Happy Lent to you!

Happy?  Lent? You might ask.

Yes, a very happy Lent. Because we can feel a bit freer, a bit more focused on getting closer to the Lord.

We do this at other times of the year, of course. But Lent is special because it marks a certain time before we will once again sing, “Hallelujah! He is risen!” Lent calls us to be more mindful of how we deepen our faith and how we live it out. How we pray, and how we preach (in the best sense of the word).

Some people deprive themselves of something for Lent. Chocolate. Movies. Sugar. Something “fun.”

Others add something on. Works of charity. Outreach to a neighbor or stranger.

Whatever the personal sense of obligation, I especially like the Ash Wednesday Gospel reading from Matthew 6:17-18) where Jesus instructs us, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” This reinforces the idea that Lent is a wonderfully personal, private time, and one where we can deepen our relationship with the Lord more than ever before. How? By going to that private room and diving into Scripture, praying and listening longer, letting quiet wash away our stress and fill us with the goodness from God.

And as we do this, we will be as the Psalmist describes, “Happy” as we walk in the radiance of the Lord’s face.

Blessings for the day – and Lent,

Maureen

Reminder: No Two Snowflakes Are Alike!

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of jannoon028/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jannoon028/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This was one of the first things I heard when I was diagnosed with lupus.

“Lupies are like snowflakes – no two are alike.”

It’s turned out to be a truly wise statement, in myriad ways. And it’s good to revisit it once in awhile, because sometimes we compare ourselves and our life with illness to others with similar challenges.  And, when we do, we might be inclined to be jealous or proud or sad or overly frustrated.

So, a gentle and friendly reminder: No two snowflakes are alike!

Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything in common. I learn volumes from my fellow chronic illness sufferers. The people in my lupus support group helped me tremendously, especially in the coping category. But, I remember, too, that our experiences are different simply because we are different people – and the disease (lupus) behaves differently in each one of us.

The reminder of not being exactly like every other [fill in the blank] patient is also helpful when we try to find and learn more about our condition. All the manifestations of a particular disease might not be present in everyone who has it, and all of the side effect of medications used to treat it may not manifest themselves in everyone, either.  Time and again, I go back to my main doctor for “the scoop” on how information relates directly to me. I urge each patient to do this, too, and to not be scared by the “horror stories” we hear from others’ experiences.

God knows us each by name and loves us each as His beloved child. He’s an “equal opportunity” parent, in that He loves each of us equally – but has created in each of us people with individual lives, gifts, and talents. Realizing that we are unique is the first step toward recognizing those gifts and talents and finding ways to put them to use. And that uniqueness extends to our physical lives and the illness and pain we might have.

Snowflakes might originate from someplace cold, and when they’re clumped together in piles and banks, they might be inconvenient. But if you look closely, they are absolutely amazing and beautiful.

Next time you find yourself down or displeased by how you look or how you feel, think of the snowflake and its uniqueness and beauty. That’s you, too!
Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Be gentle – to yourself

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicA friend and I were going to get together, but she ended up in bed with the flu.  She was “really, really sorry” that our plans couldn’t work out. But, “Be gentle to yourself,” I told her. All else can wait until you’re feeling much, much better.

When we have plans and they’re derailed by illness – our illness, our first inclination might be to feel guilty. Remorseful. Embarrassed that we are, once again, victim of our frail bodies. But when we’re especially hurting is actually the best time to exercise another kind of care, another approach to our condition.

Gentleness is powerful. It soothes, calms, and helps stress melt away. Gentleness is a way to respect the recuperation we need and, before we’re feeling better, it’s a great way to

How do we show gentleness? First, by not being embarrassed or guilty about the fact that we’re ill. Illness “just is.”

Second, we speak gently, move about gently, and arrange our day so that we lessen any significant burden of activity (work, social responsibilities, etc.). It’s all right. There will be a day very soon when we’re feeling better and stronger and up to tackling what we temporarily set aside.

Gentleness is a virtue also expressed in prayer. Instead of forceful supplication, sit back, focus on one element of your relationship with God, and let thoughts flow from the Spirit to your soul.

A fiery, spice meal when you’re ill probably doesn’t do as much good as the proverbial chicken soup. So, too, does gentleness belong at the times when we’re ailing.  Yes, life will “spice up” soon enough!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Having a bad day? Cue the music

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWhat is the soundtrack of your life? What songs lift you up? Make you want to move? Make you laugh? Make you cry? What songs do you take with you when you’re going to the doctor’s office? Or, having surgery? Or, waiting for test results?

What songs bring out the best in you?

What songs touch you so deeply that you feel your spirit soar and your life brighten, in spite of your pain?

Over many years, I’ve followed scientific studies that are forming a body of research indicating that music can be a very powerful part of healing, that is, lifting mood and making us more resilient in the face of terrible health challenges. Seems that science is catching up with what many of us already know: Music helps!

But, often, we limit our “intake” of music, or forget to make use of it altogether. It might be on our MP3 players, but not in our minds. It might reside in a fine collection of CDs, but not in our hearts. Or, we might put ourselves at the mercy of whatever’s on the radio when we get in our cars. Perhaps you think you can’t sing a note (or those you sing are fit only to make dogs howl), so you’re afraid to burst into song. Or, perhaps you’ve been brought so low by pain and illness that your sense of melody and meter has been suppressed.

Music, however, is there!

I’ve found that, when I’m having a really bad day, I call upon one or more Gospel songs to lift me up. “Through It All,” by Andrae Crouch, is one of my favorites. “Thank You, Lord,” also by Crouch, is another. The traditional hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” makes me mindful of God’s power throughout the world and within everything therein. And, “Amazing Grace?” What a balm!

When I want to be motivated, I sometimes turn to good ol’ rock and roll. Percussion moves!

And when I want to calm frayed nerves or just mentally go to another, more soothing place, Hawaiian music, jazz, or Irish ballads can take me there.

Blessedly, I’ve kept these and other songs and styles of music in my heart so that, no matter where I am or what’s going on around me, the music is there. We don’t need MP3 players and radios when the songs are so close to us we can push the play button of our hearts.

The more we are mindful of our personal playlist, the more we can take advantage of music as part of our health regimen, part of what can help us live through the tough times and be more praiseful in the good.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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