Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Happiness from the Outside, In

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author Pic“Happiness is a by-product. You cannot pursue it by itself.”  Samuel Levenson, American humorist (1911-80)

My page-a-day Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar often has pithy quotes that stir my thinking. The one above, on Thursday’s page, struck me as tremendously appropriate for those of us living with chronic illnesses. How often have you said, “I just want to be happy,” while feeling the weight of pain, meds, and restrictions imposed by health challenges?  How often have you winced at someone saying, “Just have a positive attitude – that’ll make you feel better,” knowing that the energy it takes to muster up that ‘positive attitude’ isn’t in your proverbial emotional reservoir?

The quote above offers a clue to a more realistic look at happiness in our lives. Happiness, to the author, is not something isolated or attainable “as is.” Rather, it’s something we achieve by doing something else, by going after something else. That ‘something,’ if positive and productive, yields a sense of self-worth, accomplishment, satisfaction, and, yes, happiness.

But what to achieve? What to pursue? How can we possibly do something so monumental that it stirs happiness up from the ‘swamp’ of sadness, frustration, pain and other negative feelings swirling in our souls?

I don’t think it has to be anything huge or newsworthy. Nor does it have to be long-term. Those positive actions and pursuits can be as simple as doing one, small thing a day toward better health or seeking to do one, anonymous act of kindness. We can remember to celebrate the good things that happen in our world, however truncated, and we can look upon our prayer time as an oasis of calm and peace with God that then brings a warm glow – yes, happiness – to our fragile spirits.

Happiness from the inside, out? That’s a tough proposition. But happiness from the outside, in – that’s infinitely doable!
Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Up to the test

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicThe crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold,

but the tester of hearts is the Lord

Proverbs 17: 3

 

Living with illness and pain can seem like one, long, test. And, in many ways, it is. These challenges test patience, pain threshold, and, in the more concrete sense of the word, they subject us to medical tests that can be ordeals of their own – and painful, too!

As we journey on with our health burdens, it can be easy to say, “Lord, I can’t take any more. I really can’t.” But this is where faith – and wisdom come in like the lifelines that they are to reel us in and bring us back to what’s truly the center of our lives.

For all of the discomfort (I know, this is an understatement many times!) we experience, our souls are in fine shape. Our spirits are resilient. God, nestled in our hearts, is with us and carrying us along. And when we turn to Him, even in our deepest pain, He will bring us peace of spirit and comfort.

Many’s the time when meds and treatments did not take away my physical pain, but as I turned my life and health over to the Lord, the grace that I felt made all the physical much easier to deal with. And as it became easier, a peace beyond all other wrapped around me like a security blanket.

Could we endure our illnesses without faith? Without God?

Maybe we could withstand the physical pain. But with faith, with God, we are up to the test and more – we are able to reach beyond it and make our lives more meaningful, more purposeful, and more whole. And in that whole-ness, healing happens, healing that brings us close to God.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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

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