Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

At the Whim of the Weather…Or Not

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Periodically, I’ve delved into research about whether the weather affects people’s health. Some arthritis sufferers, for example, insist that their condition worsens as rain approaches, and some who suffer from depression often report that their mood is darker when the skies are also cloudy.  One theory for which there is some credible work is that the change in barometric pressure may cause some to feel their aches and pains more acutely.  Other research seems inconclusive, although there is a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is known to cause mood changes, especially during the darker, drearier days of winter.

As a lupus patient who cannot spend a great deal of time outdoors during the day, and thus does not “soak up the vitamin A” like other people do, I can empathize with people who feel a bit at the whim of the weather or, at least, at the whim of a sun-dappled day. But I also think that much of our reaction to the weather outside is due to our perceptions within. A sunny, beautiful day begs for us to go outside and play, whereas the steady beat of rain and howl of wind reminds us all too well of our mere mortality – God’s nature getting the better of our outdoor aspirations.

I’m certainly not downplaying the very real affects of SAD, nor do I think that other symptoms thought to arise because of weather phenomena are “all in one’s head.” But I also think that how we allow ourselves to regard nature can to some extent be tempered and, thus, we need not curl up into a proverbial ball when a storm looms on the horizon.

One of the ways that I try to turn a day-made-”bad”-by-rain around is to marvel at the natural event itself and think of all the good it does. Nurturing dry land. Washing the landscape (or cityscape) clean. Bringing variety to an otherwise unbroken string of moderate weather (a really great thing in California!).

Another way to greet a stormy day with optimism is to have other plans at the ready. Raining on your parade? Picnic indoors.  Can’t exercise because you can’t get out? Pop in an exercise video and go to it! Feeling achy because it’s cold/windy/ugly outside? Allow yourself the luxury of an at-home spa day and relax!

Bad weather need not limit us, it just might make us change our plans a little. After all, we know the clouds do lift, and better days come. And in the meantime, we can admire God’s imagination and handiwork drop by drop and cloud by cloud.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

 

See Jesus

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

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 6:16:21, we read about the storm on the sea. The disciples were out on the sea in a boat, and a terrible storm blew up. We read, “When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them,” It is I. Do not be afraid.” (NAB)

How often have we been completely tensed with worry about our lives, and so sure that, round the next corner would come horrible things? In our illnesses, we might be anxious about what might happen if we get worse. The loss of a job can bring tremendous worry about the very basic necessities of life: paying for food, clothing, housing.

Often, especially if we face great challenges, we might even find it difficult to be peaceful in prayer, present at religious services, or faithful in our reading of the Word and continuing to develop our spiritual selves. Yet, as with our good days and time, Jesus is present in our problems, even in those things that terrify us. And, he tells us, “Do not be afraid.”

The more remind ourselves to see, really see Jesus, as he is, all loving, all protective, and all knowing, the more we can gain strength in the midst of the storms in our lives. Jesus is not a problem for us, he is the solution. He is not to be feared, but rather, embraced.

If you are troubled, open your eyes. See Jesus. And let him carry you and calm the raging seas.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Is It Hard to Read the Signs?

posted by mpratt

Santa monica parkingOne day, I noticed these signs on a street in a quiet residential neighborhood where, most days, little traffic flows. I couldnt’ resist taking a picture – such a complicated set of do’s and don’t's when, I’d imagine, simplicity would suffice.

Beyond the obvious humor, however, I thought about how we often find it hard to read the signs that mark moments or decisions in our own lives. For example, if you have been recently diagnosed with an illness, you might find that lots of people have lots of ideas about what you should do next. And, you might wonder, “Which way do I go?”

Or, perhaps you face a major decision about work, a relationship, or even where you might live. And, you’ll lay awake at night wondering, “Which way should I go?”

Finding, or, rather, recognizing, God’s path for our lives can be equally confusing, especially if we cannot get out of our own way. With all of my recent difficult times that involved my own health, people close to me dying, and an auto accident, I did find myself wondering, “What do these things mean in the ‘big picture’ of my life?” and also wondering about other “signs” that God sends.

As I mulled over these things while driving by in my car, another thought popped into my head. I’d paused and gotten out of my car to take this picture. But, I realized, as I drove by the signs, even at a slow pace, it was difficult for me to read everything posted. It was only when I stopped, stood, and took enough time that I was able to understand it all.

So, too, with those of us striving to read the signs in our own lives. We can’t really ‘get the message’ if we’re on the go all the time, not listening, not even dreaming!

If it’s hard to read your signs, try pausing. Pray. And let God’s message and purpose unfold for you.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

What Is Your ‘All?’

posted by mpratt

presents by photoexplorerAs we move into autumn and toward the holiday season, I’m already receiving solicitations for end-of-the-year donations. No doubt, more will be forthcoming, as well as requests for my participation in activities related various causes.

Scripturally, we can find much justification, indeed much impertive, for “giving our all.” But when we live with chronic illness and pain, and are limited physically, emotionally, and, frequently, financially, just what is our “all?” And who determines what that “all” is, exactly?

There are plenty of people who think they know what we should give and how much, and they can be very strong about their ideas, even to the point of being forceful. There’s the guilt approach, “Others are worse off than you,” and the heartstrings approach, “Could you stand it if this cause/organization/entity failed?” There is the celebrity approach, built on the premise that a famous celebrity will certainly be able to persuad their fans to give simply because they support one or another cause. There is the “everyone must share equally in the efforts here,” which does not take into account that some people might have ample energy and physical ability to participate while others are more challenged in these regards. There’s even the public attempt at shaming you into giving, as I’ve experienced more than once at a store checkout. The conversation goes like this:

“Would you like to give $1.00 to needy children?” The clerk asks, loudly.

“Not today.” I say, gently.

“Oh. Okay. Thank you Ms. Pratt.” The clerk says, frowning, louder – for the rest of the line of customers to hear.

But for all this gauntlet of solicitation, there is only one person who can determine to what and how much time, money, and energy any of us gives. That person is ourselves, individually, in prayer and consultation with God via that prayer and faithful study of Scripture.

Understand your abilities, the time and energy and other physical characteristics that you have to give to an organization or activity. Understand your resources, money, of course, but also things like transportation and accessibility. Lift up the desires of your heart to God – how you want to help, and what priorities you have. Then, move forward and stay firm, keeping strong in the face of guilt and others tactics.

In this way, you will be able to make a more significant difference in the things that are more important, and will feel even more that you are a servant for the Lord, with special gifts that He is guiding you and supporting you to give.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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