Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Wear is your best?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Why don’t you wear that lovely ewelry/that dress/those shoes more often?

“Oh, it’s too good to wear everyday. I only save it for special occasions.”

“So, when was the last time you wore it?”

“Oh, it’s been so long, I can’t remember…”

Does this conversation sound familiar? It sure does to me. I’ve heard it again and again, spoken between me, sometimes, and another patient, or overheard in a doctor’s waiting room. Rarely, if ever, do we consciously think of wearing something “good” for something like a medical appointment. It seems so incongruous, so out of place.

Yet, given the amount of time we spend going from doctor to test to doctor and back again, the time that we have for “special occasions” is abbreviated at best, and often, for long stretches, nonexistent. So, we leave our “best” in a drawer or closet, gathering dust but not memories. And soon, we also leave our best smile, our best kind word, our best attitude behind, too.

What’s left?

Well, not exactly our best.

As I wrote in my previous post,”this is the day the Lord has made.” This day, this specific day.  And given it is a day that Our Father in Heaven has gifted us with, think of the difference it would make if we wore our best.

What if we dusted off our best dress, our best smile? What if we used our kindest vocabulary and took along (and used) our most patient attitude?

The depths of the heart are precious reservoirs of love and care and grace. By putting on our best, whenever we face the world, whether at a doc’s office or elsewhere, we put that reservoir to use – and we help make this day better, more blessed, for others, too.

Peace and joy,

Maureen

Writing about chronic illness and pain

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicFrequently, people will tell me that they want to write a book about their experience with chronic illness and pain. When they ask me for advice, I give them a response that’s probably not what they’re expecting. Instead of talking about the market for books, the world of e-publishing, or even the craft of writing, I ask a simple question, “Why do you want to write about your illness/pain?” The reason for this response is easy: Writing a book is not. Easy, that is. It takes a lot of dedication, time, energy, and more than a wish to tell others your story. If that’s all you want to do, you can journal, blog, even Tweet about how you’re your doing on a particular day. There is nothing wrong with this, by the way. In fact, journaling, etc., is a very good way of helping you understand your life with health challenges and, possibly, can inform others, especially your medical team. I ask “Why?” because I want to know if someone who already lives a daily and nightly battle with health challenges is willing and eager to take on another, very significant, challenge. And, I ask “Why?” because, although there are many, many “personal story” books on the market, the best writing on illness and pain extends beyond self and informs, encourages, and inspires others. Writing about pain and illness, at its best, helps others live with their daily struggles. Although personal experiences are important to establishing credibility and context, it’s not so much about “me” as it is about “them.” Yes, it is very, very hard work. But, it is also a wonderful blessing, a grace-filled ministry. If you are one who wishes to write a book about your experience and help others, to be of service, be encouraged. Be diligent about your research and thought. Be true to your heart. Be prayerful each day and night. And be ready for an adventure, a journey, a labor of love. Joy and peace, Maureen

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.

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.

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

 

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.

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.

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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