Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Teetering on Your Pedestal?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicDuring holiday season, we come in contact with many more people than we usually do. In the course of our conversations, we probably talk about the health challenges we’ve endured throughout the year-almost-past (or, at least some of them).  And, perhaps, the person with whom we’re speaking says something like, “Oh, you’re so strong!’ or “Oh, you’re incredible – you handle those challenges so well.” Or, the “topper” – “I could never cope as well as you do…”

I learned long ago that the best way to take a compliment is to simply say, “Thank you.” But so often, when someone says they admire the way I take on my own health challenges, inside, I cringe a little.  Not that I don’t strive to be as good as I possibly can be, and not that I don’t believe to my core that God is guiding me, encouraging me, and comforting me along my journey. But, I’m only human, as is each person who lives with chronic illness. And, sometimes, well, we teeter on our pedestals!

Proverbial teetering might include suddenly becoming frustrated with medication that takes too long to work, or a body that doesn’t do all that we’d like it to do. It might mean actually getting irritated or out-right angry that we have to change or cancel plans to do something we’ve really looked forward to  – because of an illness that flares or a new symptom that arises.

Frustration at the fits and starts we experience while getting ready to step outside our front door. Aggravation that brain fog interferes with our ability to remember important details (or names). Overall, bone-numbing fatigue that can drive us to tears when the days and nights seem achingly long.

All of these things are part and parcel of our reaction to an ongoing life with illness. And they indicate that we are, as I said, human. And, they also go right along with the other courageous things we do to cope, to shine with God’s light, and to be the best we can be with all that we are given.

When someone says, “You are so brave,” you might cringe, at first, and think that you are anything but. You know how you feel “behind the scenes,” and it often doesn’t reflect the makings of a super-hero. But – and this is important to remember –  the person offering the compliment is seeing in you someone they admire, someone who is striving.

So, as we teeter, we also need to remember that we’re doing some things very right, and showing others that it is possible to have faith along the difficult walk we take each day.

Yes, we teeter – but we do not fall!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Active Peace

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

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We’re almost halfway through Advent, nearly two weeks away from once again welcoming the Prince of Peace.

How is your peace?

Are you frazzled from all the activity of the Season, yet? Feeling buffeted by family squabbles that have a way of erupting at this time of year?

Are you struggling, waging a war of resources (time, money,health) amid the demands of December?

Are you clinging to the last shred of hope and light while feeling pulled away from anchors of faith, comfort, and joy?

This month can be filled with many blessings, but it can also challenge our fragile spirits in myriad ways, especially when it comes to peace of mind and heart.

All the more reason to revisit what peace is and where it resides within you, within me. All the more reason to take steps to nurture it, yes, even as winter winds, both personal and meteorological, batter against our “house,” our soul.

By His life, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, shows us the way. Humble, sure, ready to take time to be alone and to pray, Jesus lived active peace for himself and others. He didn’t wait until all storms blew over, nor did he rage against them or cower. He firmly insisted they “be still,” and remained close to the Father in faith and in prayer before, during and after.

Peace grows in the stillness, but we have to insist on that stillness to grow peace. This active way of cultivating that which strengthens us in the face of life’s storms is helpful when we feel most helpless and supportive when we feel least supported.

Active peace. Not waiting for things to settle, but being firm for peace within us nowacting for peace around us now.

Welcoming the Prince of Peace into our world now.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Bringing Glad Tidings

posted by mpratt

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

    because the Lord has anointed me;

He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,

    to heal the brokenhearted

To proclaim liberty to the captives

  and release to the prisoners,

To announce a year of favor from the Lord

  and a day of vindication by our God,

  to comfort all who mourn;

     Isaiah 61:1-2 (NAB)

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The prophet Isaiah’s words resound through the ages and rest on our ears and hearts today. No matter who we are, no matter where we go, Isaiah trumpets our mission: “to bring glad tidings” to the lowly, the prisoners, all who mourn, in fact, to everyone!

But this can be really tough if you’re hurting, can’t it? Experiencing stabs of physical pain, being unable to move one or more limbs without excruciatingly awful sensations – how in the world can we cut through all of this and muster the energy and heart to said, “Hallelujah!”?!

I’m with you as far as the difficulty goes. Oh, yes, on the “good” days, it’s much easier to raise a praise. But on those dark, “bad” days, well, not so easy. Sometimes, almost impossible.

Yes, almost.

On the days when it’s extremely difficult to shout, I try at least to whisper. On the days when it’s hard to say, “it’s all good,” I try to find at least one thing that is, one even small blessing to which I can point and say, “See? God does bring good.”

Isaiah’s powerful witness and purpose leap off the pages of Scripture, and sometimes, our hearts leap right with him. But we know, as does our all-loving Father in Heaven, that some days, it’s just not possible to shout and leap and, perhaps, even lift our hands to the heavens.

But on those days, those “bad” days, there’s always something we can find, if we look, and some glimmer of joy we can feel, if we allow ourselves to, that can spark an even-muted  praise…and show the world that we might be down, but we’re not out – not out of God’s grace, goodness, and glad tidings!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Important to Remember

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

Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If my experience last week is any example, I was strongly reminded that illness does not go on a holiday during the holidays – and when things go awry, it’s important to seek the right help, even if it interferes with holiday plans.

Monday, I felt fine. Monday evening, my right eye felt funny. By Tuesday  morning, sitting at my computer, I knew there was something wrong. My right eye did not “feel right,” but I was loathe to call my doctor much less drop everything and go in for an appointment. I knew that she would fit me in, which might mean a long wait in a crowded waiting room, and dreaded thinking of how disruptive it all would be. But as the eye worsened, I realized it didn’t matter that I was deep in Christmas preparations, deadlines, and soon-to-be holiday fun.  At all times of the year, eyesight is precious, so I picked up the phone and made the call.

How glad I am that I did! Getting treatment early is, I found out, extremely important with viruses like shingles. Without making that call, the problem would have only worsened, and could have had even more horrible consequences if I’d have ignored it. Oh, yes, the whole experience was frightfully disruptive. But it could have been much worse.

It’s difficult to acknowledge or admit to an illness during the holidays. I know people who drag themselves around, to shop, to work, to socialize, and who are hacking and wheezing and feverish. Perhaps they don’t realize that they can spread their “cheer” to others, or perhaps they care more for thinking their doing what they “should” during the holidays, instead of taking care of health.

Besides those folks, there are, I know, those of us with chronic illnesses and pain who risk aggravating them (or exposing themselves to infections) because they don’t want to “miss out” on once-a-year events.

How easy it would be if we could schedule in our flares, infections, and aggravated pain! Sweep them all away until a more “convenient” time, or at least until after the last Christmas ornament has been stowed away.

But, life, especially with chronic illness and pain, just doesn’t work like that.

Yes, the reminder I got this year was hard-learned, but important, and the outcome not as bad as it could have been.

Lesson learned, Lord! Thank you!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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