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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Pain: Help for the Directionally Challenged

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicIt’s better. It’s worse. It moved. It’s stable. It’s sharp. It’s dull.

It’s pain. And it is a pain, your pain. Well, it’s affecting you, but you can’t say you actually possess it, because it seems to have a mind – and a direction – of it’s own. You’re working with your doctors on it, but you feel as if you’re on a choppy ocean rather than a smooth lake. And, your GPS is broken. You absolutely cannot figure out where your pain -and your life with it – is heading.

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It’s scary to not know what direction you’re heading in.

It’s scary to think that this up-and-down-and-round-and-round will be with you for a long while. For life.

Yet, it can also be more than okay. It can be blessed.

For many years, I did not have a good sense of direction. I’d get lost easily, wandering down street after streeet, often finding myself ending up where I began. Even with a map, I’d get lost.

Part of the reason for this was that, even when I knew where I should go, I’d act the opposite. I’d turn right instead of left (in fact, I humorously used to say, “Oh, I should have turned the other left.”) Or, I’d argue that the map was outdated, or the landscape had changed. Or, I’d think, “I’m supposed to go 20 miles, and I think I’ve gone 20 miles,” only to find out I’d gone a mere 18.

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Yes, this was me for years, until I moved to a new city and had to learn navigation all over again. Only this time, Iwas really intent on getting it right, on finding the correct roads and traveling the correct distance. I understood that I didn’t know the way “all by myself,” that I needed guidance. And I looked upon finding new places as a way of exploring, about discovering new things about God’s wonderful world.

At first, I got lost a little. But now, rarely. And it is the same with the chronic pain I’m aware of every single day: I try to put myself aside and lift up my cares to the Lord, trusting that he knows the direction, even if I’m clueless. He understands what I need, and he provides it.

He’s better than any GPS system I or anyone else could devise!

Directionally challenged? Not with the Lord, guiding each step.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

 

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Giving when you think you don’t have anything to give

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I understand the Scriptural basis for tithing and giving monetarily to church and charitable causes. I know, clearly, the story of the widow who gave her precious coin to the Temple.

But the truth is that, today, living with a chronic illness can be very, very expensive, unpredictably so, and many people who are in the trenches, battling pain and symptoms and medical bills, barely have enough money to stay afloat. Some, despite their disabilities, struggle to support families or elderly parents.  For many, each day is a battle against bills and basics.

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Does it make them un-Christian if these courageous patients decline to tithe a full ten-percent, or at all? Does it mark them as unworthy, or at a lesser tier than others who feel they are “making sacrifices” to keep up with their regular giving?

Although some might say, “You can always find a way,” I’d like to contribute to the conversation by saying, “there are some who simply cannot.” And these people are no less Christian, no less workers in the vineyard than those who shower dollar after dollar upon their faith communities.  The “least” among a church community has something to give, even if it does not equate financially.

Consider, for example, that for some people who are monetarily unable to tithe, their “widow’s mite” might be serving at church as a greeter, prayer warrior, lector, or in another capacity. Energy and time are precious commodities to people living with chronic illness and pain – believe me, these things are valuable and worthy of appreciation.

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People who live with chronic illness can use the Internet to connect with others who might be housebound (and who better to understand a patient than another patient?) They can provide guidance to others who are just beginning an illness journey, or who are caring for someone who is.

Those who cannot give money can give of their love and support.

Those who are poor teach others who are not how to truly and fully care.

Along with the instructions to live as brothers and sisters, sharing what we have, is the Scriptural instruction about gifts. Each person within the community of Christ has individual gifts and talents, to be used for the greater glory of God.

So many gifts do not have a price tag, but they are strong contributions, nonetheless, and we are all more fortune-ate because of them.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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This is the day

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Imagine if you gave a good friend a present, all wrapped up and shining in the light. What if that friend, instead of opening the package, set it aside. He or she tells you, “Oh, thanks. But I’ll get to it later. I’m really not all that excited about a present right now. I have other things to do.”

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How would you feel? Upset? Disappointed? More than a little irritated that you’d gone to all that trouble, and your friend couldn’t care less?

Now, think about this day. Yes, this very day, this moment. It is a day that the Lord, with all his love and care, has made and has given to us. Thoughtfully. Happily. Self-lessly. This day is all wrapped up with wonder, with the mysteries of his Creation and the sights and sounds of natural beauty.

Yes, this is the day the Lord has made, and he gives it to you and me.

What are we going to do with it?

Are we so focused on pain, illness, and clouds that seem to never go away? Are we going to set aside this day to think about tomorrow or regret yesterday? Are we going to eye today fearfully, not sure if we even want to see what it holds?

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Or, are we going to raise a heavenward “Thank you, Father!” and eagerly tear open the package and see what gifts await us this time?

This day.

Today.

Today, I’m going to be that friend who accepts the gift, opens the package, and gives great thanks, no matter how small the blessings may be this day.

How about you?

Blessings for this day,

Maureen

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Vietnam War: A Memory for Today

posted by mpratt

QSL card from South VietnamTucked in a box amid other QSL cards that I found after my father’s death last year is a single, fading reminder of a powerful way to pray today.

If you’re not familiar with what they are, a QSL card is a record sent from one radio ham operator to another that confirms the contact that the two made while operating their radios. The cards are usually postcard-sized and sometimes contain only the pertient information of the contact – the date, radio frequency, call letters of teh ham sending the card, and what antenna was used, for example. Othertimes, a ham  might scribble a note, or use a card with a region-evoking map or picture.

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The card that sits on my desk right now, the one in the picture on this blog, confirms contact that my father made with a radio ham in Saigon, South Vietnam, on October 28, 1972. Simply signed “Bob,” the card includes an outline of South Vietnam and the location of Saigon. Nothing especially remarkable there, but I keep going back to the date.

In 1978, my father was avidly pursuing his hobby of operating a ham radio from the safety and comfort of the basement of our home. With war all around, and the future unsure, I wonder what “Bob’s” life was like, then, when he made contact with my father over his radio. Was “Bob’s” ham radio activity a mere hobby, or his determined way of maintaining contact with a world outside, more peaceful, perhaps, more sure?

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Less than 3 years after the date on the card, Saigon finally fell. I wonder, did Bob make it out beforehand? Or, did he broadcast to the last, still reaching out?

Today, there are people in other war-torn places, trying to reach out to the world beyond, the world where life is not so punctuated by violence. As I look at this card, I’m reminded that each day, I need to include these anonymous, but precious, people in my prayers, and ask the Lord to keep them safe and hopeful, no matter what. I might not have the equipment or ham radio license my father did, but prayer is mighty powerful – and God hears each of our voices loud and clear!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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