Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Prayer: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

posted by mpratt

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This horrible scourge affects people at all levels of society and, although women are most often the victims of domestic violence, many children and men suffer, too.  Here is a prayer to accompany this month’s events – and to carry forward into the weeks and months ahead, our petition for peace for each person living in fear and pain:

 

Image courtesy of Pat138241/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lord, this day and night, there are people living in fear and pain.

Children, women and, yes, men, too, for whom home is not a place of peace, but of terrible violence.

Bring your strenth to all victims of domestic abuse.

Help them find the inner courage to reach out, call for help, and find a place where they can begin to heal.

Help us, too, to be instruments of your peace and to assist the victims with finding safety and hope for a better future.

Lord, may your protective love enfold all who suffer and bring them through these dark days and nights.

From now on, may your light outshine any doubt, despair, or hurt. And bring these dear ones through their trials to the kindness and goodness they justly deserve.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Job’s Friends

posted by mpratt

In my book, “Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy,” much of the section on Job involves Job himself – his life, his suffering and, eventually, his finding immense joy.

But integral to telling Job’s story is also the subject of friendship with someone who is suffering, and this theme resonates with us today.

What part did Job’s friends play in his story?

How can someone be a friend to someone who is ill and in pain?

Image courtesy of Arvind Balarman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the Book of Job, Job has three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamanite. These three run to Job’s side when they hear about the tragedies that have befallen his family, livelihood, and person.  When they see just how dire Job’s circumstances are, they are so shocked they are unable to speak. Finally, each friend takes a turn to try to help Job. But with each friend’s attempt at comfort (or ‘tough love’), Job rebuffs them.

The friends keep trying, but Job keeps up his ‘rant’ against them, life, and even God, who ‘denied [him] justice’ (Job: 27:2).  Job repels his friends, who become increasingly frustrated with him.

Finally, a young man, Elihu, son of Barakel the Buzite,  who has been listening to Job and his friends, steps in. He admits that he is very young, but “it is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.’ (Job 32:9)

Elihu tells Job that Job has been complaining that he has lived a blameless life, so God should be rewarding him instead of punishing him. But, Elihu tells him, ‘…in this you are not right, for God is greater than man.’ (Job 33:12)

Elihu insists that Job turn his focus from himself to God and all the mightiness that He is. On the heels of Elihu’s speech, the Lord then chimes in. Finally, Job realizes that he needs to accept his frailty and humanness and God’s omnipotence, and in doing so, he is able to move on.

There is much to be learned from Job’s friends and their relationship with him. First, when Job falls into deep trouble, his friends rally to his side. They want to help, but the magnitude of Job’s suffering is so great that they simply don’t know what to say.

This is an important lesson for we who have serious illness or pain – sometimes, we think our friends don’t care because they stay silent. Perhaps they don’t call often, or invite us out. Perhaps, when they are with us, they fumble for words or aren’t as chatty as they have been. We might think they don’t care, but this might be an error on our part; perhaps they do care, but they, like Job’s friends, are at a loss for words.

The second lesson is when Job’s friends finally do speak, Job refuses to accept what they say. This is true today – sometimes we don’t like what our friends tell us when we’re sick. Sometimes, they see in our situation things we don’t see ourselves. Sometimes, they are wrong. But sometimes, they are right.  In order to get at the truth, and the caring that underpins friends’ attempt at making suggestions, it helps to keep communication going rather than, as Job did, remaining hostile to friends reaching out to us.

The third lesson is an interesting one. Sometimes, friends hesitate to speak up, to reach out, because they think someone else will. That is what Elihu thought at first; that Job’s older friends would be able to persuade him to stop complaining and get busy. Indeed, Elihu waits a long time before realizing the other three friends are ineffective. But, when he does finally speak, it is Elihu’s words that open up the door to Job’s conversion.  For someone who is a friend to someone who is suffering, it’s important to know that there is no “queue,’ no pecking order if you truly think that you can offer solace or suggestions. You might have the right inspiration to bring true comfort to a very difficult situation!

Finally, as it relates to being a friend to someone who is suffering, the Book of Job serves as a reminder that true conversion of heart is between the person and God. It also illustrates, however, that friends play a key role and, while the experience might be challenging for them, they can make a significant difference by staying true to their faith and commitment to bringing comfort and wisdom to their loved one.

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

A Good Bad Hair Day – For All Those Sisters Living with Hair Loss

posted by mpratt

Bible passages about the beauty and symbolic strength of human hair abound – and became rather difficult for me to read around the time that I began to develop full-blown lupus. One of the first symptoms indicating something was seriously wrong was that I lost my hair. Not in wisps and a few strands. In clumps and patches. One moment, I’d be twirling a long strand of blond curls. The next, there’d be a fistful of hair in my hand and a smooth, round patch of scalp showing on my head. This condition, I later learned, was alopecia areata (now, for me, alopecia universalis), and sometimes, tho not always, went along with lupus.

 The process of losing all of my hair took almost a year, but about midway through that time, I could no longer rely on the desperate “comb-over.” I had to find a wig. That took awhile, too, and trial and error and brought up a raft of questions:

 What color? What style? What length? How should I take care of a wig? How long would it take me to get used to wearing one? And, moreover, how should I respond to people saying, “Oh, your hair looks great?” when, in fact, I no longer had hair?

Gradually, the answers presented themselves. I opted for color close to my former shade and then ventured out to other colors (red! auburn!) I tried short and long lengths, and a couple of different styles (thankfully, with manmade wigs, the styles held even after washing – no more curling or blowdrying, no more gels or creams or sprays!)  To help myself become more agreeable to wearing wigs (they did feel like furry foreign objects at first), I started calling them my “pelts,” and stored them on styrofoam, expressionless heads.

And then came the revelation. There was something absolutely wonderful about wearing wigs, something I’d never expected.

When you wear a wig, you never have a bad hair day!

I’m sure I’m not the first to come to this realization, but as the experience of being bald is new to each woman who goes through the process, it does bear repeating.

In a wig, no matter how you feel inside, no matter how dire your physical challenges – you will never have a bad hair day!

What’s more, you’ll have the uplifting experience of people telling you your hair looks great, that you look good, and you can believe they’re not just saying that to be nice, but rather they’re saying it because it’s true. Your “hair” does look good – each time you don the wig.

Gives me more confidence just thinking about it!

There are more challenges to being bald besides the trauma of losing one’s hair. Wigs get very hot in the summertime. Heads get very cold in the wintertime (yes, my bald brothers, I now ‘get it!’). And, emotionally, there are moments…each time I look in the mirror without my wig, I see, once again, the external evidence of the autoimmune process that’s affecting me internally, too.

But, these can be handled, with head coverings (scarves, caps, hats in the winter and lighter, shorter wigs in the summer), and prayers of thanks for the life and the strength that God gives.

After years living with lupus, I’ve learned that there are much more serious afflictions than losing one’s hair. Difficult tho it is, there are positives. And, above all, there’s the opportunity to be grateful – for life, for one more day…for a good day…with no bad hair!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

A Little Bit of Whimsey, a Whole Lot of Love

posted by mpratt

What makes you smile? Oh, not a toothy grin, and not a sad melancholy expression. And, not life’s laugh tracks, the times we’re supposed to laugh just because everyone else is (and usually because of embarrassment, not joy).

Rather, what makes your lips turn up in gentle pleasure, lifting your spirits, too, and giving your whole day a positive underpinning?

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes, it’s as simple as the picture I’ve included here. An unlikely pairing of a penguin with a raincoat. A bit of whimsey to lighten the day.

I keep funny calendars, pictures, and even some stuffed animals around at all times. These can give me a playful perspective, a way of achieving that gentle smile. In the morning, I read the comics – and clip ones that are especially funny. These, too, serve as ticklers for days that are more bad than good.

The ability to share a laugh with friends is more than just getting along with them. When that laugh is heart-felt, it can transmit love. How wonderful is that?!

Sometimes, whimsey is fleeting. A view of a cat pawing at the invisible. A brief glimpse of a dog outfitted as if for a formal dance (we seem to have many of those in Los Angeles, moreso at this time of year).

Sometimes, whimsey begins small and builds. Sometimes it takes center stage of a day that is otherwise very problematic. But, when it does come and touch a funny chord, when smiles abound, then, too, does love, and the whole day becomes lighter, livelier, more bear-able. (Oh, yes, teddy bears bring whimsey, too).

If today is a bad day for you, I hope you’ll find a bit of whimsey to help. And, if it is a good day, well, enjoy it with some whimsey, too – and be sure to pass it on.

We can always use another tool to help us express our care and love for one another!

Blessings for the day.

Maureen

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