Living with chronic illness financially is like pouring your money into a sieve.
I just finished reading a beautiful, true story of a young couple who chose life for their conjoined twins. The surgery to separate them occurred this weekend.
How on earth did they fund such specialized care, I wondered. As I read further, I realized both parents had to quit their jobs to care for these special needs children and to plan for the needed surgery.
They’ve been living without tv or internet access. Their bills have been paid through fundraising and the generosity of the community around them.
Second-hand clothes and groceries have been donated to them on a regular basis. Without all this help, they would not be where they are today.
What a hugely humbling position to be in! Anyone want to walk in those shoes?
But these folks chose not to murder their unborn children. They chose life.
None of us have directly chosen chronic illness. We have, however, chosen to remain faithful to our chronically ill spouse!
While it is more blessed to give than to receive, remember that receiving means you have enabled someone else to be blessed.
God gives grace to the humble as I Peter states. Grace is very simply defined as undeserved favor.
In the big picture, ALL of God’s children are the very needy recipients of grace. No one is more important or more deserving than the other.
The book of James has some harsh words for rich believers who ignore the needs of the poor. We are all expected to extend God’s grace to each other.
This week I had to humbly ask for help. It was hard. But I knew I would end up in bed for the weekend if I loaded our ton of wood pellets into our house by myself. My husband cannot lift.
When I put the word out, the response blew me away. I knew I was inconveniencing folks. I had to remind myself it was a blessing for them, too.
What can you give up to try to live within your means?
Cheap heating fuel, anyone? We have central heat. It costs us a fortune to run it. Thus the extra labor and effort of keeping a wood pellet stove running instead.
Unfortunately, I cannot run a business very well without Internet. But the young couple above were using public wifi to cut that bill. Maybe that is an option for you, or maybe not
Consignment stores, thrift shops, well –those do take extra time to pick through to find the right size and needed items. If I pop in consistently, I find much of what we need secondhand.
Do you really need data on your phone? I found a cell plan that works for us. Unlimited talk and text. No data. No affiliate link here!
How do you deal with the needs you cannot meet on your own?
Say “yes” to donations. It’s humbling being the “needy” friend. I tend to be silent about our needs. There is always a list, though. What is amazing is the opportunities I’ve had to bless others by passing along extra things I’ve been given. To do so, I had to accept the freebies, first.
Practice praying for what you do need! One of God’s names is Jehovah-Jireh, God will provide. God stretches my faith by keeping me on my knees. James 1, again! His supplies are vastly beyond my puny needs. I pray for a lot of little things on my list. Right now there are some big things, too.
Go ahead. Ask. We are supposed to bear each other’s burdens. Sometimes folks have no idea how to help. They aren’t in your shoes. It isn’t their fault. I watched personal items, paper goods, food items, and comfort measures flow into my brother and sister-in-law’s home during the four years she struggled with cancer. They had a few fundraisers for bigger needs. Every. Single. Bit. Helps.
Practice profound and genuine gratitude. Grace is a gift. It is not an entitlement.
A couple of helpful websites for money ideas are:
http://www.daveramsey.com. We’re still in the “dream” stage of debt-free living.
See my past post.Four common frustrations you may face this week
http://moneysavingmom.com/ the most encouraging! I use her tips regularly. Do you have any great money tips or encouragement? Please do share in the comment section below!
I love a good mystery! The intrigues of history and human character, well, they intrigue me.
But I confess, I never expected my personal path through life to contain so many mysteries.
My husband bumped into more major complications this week in his mysterious health history. As each new drama unfolds, could life be any more complicated?
To make matters more heart-wrenching, an old “like” of a Facebook post from my lovely, now departed sis popped up on my feed. Since then, I’ve been following the heart-wrenching updates of a little girl struggling with her 8th bout with recurring cancer.
Eighth bout! Just stinking awful.
Part of me wants to turn off the feed as the cancer epic is just so painful for me to watch.
It’s much easier to pass on by the suffering instead of stopping and getting involved like the Good Samaritan. When you stop to help, to pray, to care, personal pain twists like a knife-blade in your gut.
Your eyes leak tears at the most inconvenient moments.
So how is it that, Blessed are those who mourn? Drum roll, please.
The second half of that Beautitude…for they shall be comforted.
Sweet, sweet comfort from God Himself — now who doesn’t want that! Ever watched a sobbing little one find comfort in his parent’s arms?
I would venture to say that getting comforted was one of my most meaningful childhood memories. Maybe not my sweetest, cause my heart was broken at the moment.
But now, in the fires of real life affliction, sometimes I envy the sweet little ones who simply have to run to the open arms of a waiting parent. There all their troubles dissolve.
I feel deeply for those children who have never known such tender comfort from a parent.
Tender comfort in the fires of affliction is the setting of Psalm 91:4.
“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.”
Terror by night.
Flying weapons by day.
Death. Destruction. Plague.
During these truly terrible times, the Almighty offers Himself as a shadow, a place of refuge, and a fortress.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want and need a place to hide. It’s storming hard right now. I need a shelter, a refuge.
Dear sister, what is most encouraging in this Psalm is the promised “end of the story” for those who set their love on the Almighty and make Him their refuge. Please, please read the whole sixteen verses! I will quote for you just one part of the promised ending.
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high because He has known my name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
So the secret’s out. Running to Jesus for comfort is the path through trouble. I did not say the path that avoids trouble, for “many are the afflictions of the righteous”. Hope these few thoughts remind you to seek and dwell in the secret place this week. Let me know how I can pray for you, too, okay?
This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:
But! But perhaps today is a day when the reality of sickness, sorrow, pain, and even death have come crashing down around you.
Maybe you married the man of your dreams, and both of your existences have been shattered by months and years of chronic pain.
You find out your loved one has cancer. Or there is no cure for the disease your loved one has.
Maybe the disease is even nameless because no doctor can put his finger on it. It still exists. Give it a name. The monster is disease!
Disease wreaks havoc on our lives. No one who has not lived with chronic illness can really fathom the depth of this havoc. I’ve given up trying to explain this to those who are healthy. Who can explain the unexplainable?
How? Just how do you and I worship our Maker, Creator, Redeeemer on His holy day when we are so broken? And why would we?
Truth! I woke up this morning wondering about worship. Sad of heart. Weary of the sorrows that have multiplied in my life and those around me. But knowing this: I will worship. I was created to worship. All who live and breath worship someone, something.
Maybe it’s money. (HA! Think — our current political scene). Maybe it’s nature. Or beauty. Or goodness. Or ideology. Education. Or any form of peace, even if it’s based on lies.
What is on the top of your pedestal?
In this broken world ravaged by war, hate, cruelty, disease, poverty, and death, hardly a day goes by that I don’t breathe this prayer.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
“Those who are whole do not need a physician. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus mentioned worship in spirit and truth to a woman who had experienced five broken marriages and was currently living outside of God’s plan for marriage.
He spoke to this woman at the well — not righteous by a long shot. And why does he mention worship to her? Not only that, He offers her water, the water of true living.
“…the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
Most amazing of all — this next scene. Listen closely! This woman, outcast of society, asks Him about the the promised Messiah. She gets the most clear-cut answer. No hidden message. Earlier Christ clearly exposed her sin, and she knew it. Now He reveals himself, to her and pulls no punches.
“I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26
If you are outside the Christian faith, please know that to be a Christian you have to believe the clear-cut claims of Christ.
Jesus Christ goes on record clearly stating both His Deity and His power to grant living water – eternal life. Either He is truly the Son of God, or He is a flagrant liar.
And to be a follower of Jesus, you need to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.
Why? Because, ” My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
When we worship in community, in spirit and in truth, He restores our souls. He leads us beside still waters.
His Word corrects our straying feet and keeps us in paths of righteousness.
And even the imperfect, straying sheep in our flock can learn to reflect His love and wisdom to comfort each other. It may take a lifetime. Some sheep are more ornery than others, truth!
But also remember that He leads His flock gently and cares tenderly for the bruised and broken.
Every elder, every undershepherd ought to have this heart for the flock. With this hope and anticipation, I drag my weary body out of bed each Lord’s Day. I need rest for my soul. So I seek to hear His voice, not just alone, but in community with His sheep in His house on His day.
Let me encourage you, weary as you may be, to choose worship in community.
Again, our satellite internet went down yesterday. I was unable to post. My apologies!
Well, it happened! I lost today’s post. It was on Word Press, and then it wasn’t.
I really wanted to share this encouraging post by Scott Sauls. I read it three times this week.
I hope the link works and this is a blessing for you.
Let me know if you can open the link, okay? I really hope this encourages you despite my snafu.
My daughter has always asked a thousand questions.
She is at that age now where she hones in on adult conversations and, like a tween detective, wants to know more details. Typical of a parent-child relationship, right?
So it stands to reason that we ask questions of God about life. About our life. After all we are His children by adoption, His creation.
He has written about His plan, His love, His will, and His ways for us to know many of the answers to many of our questions in His book, the Bible.
There are still many mysteries of infinity that our finite minds won’t grasp.
But there are always some answers you and I get that we don’t like. Like my daughter, I can hear the answer and go off in an angry huff. Foot stomp added for emphasis!
Like the question I asked this week echoed by a Christian friend in her very difficult challenges — WHY? Why does one person, one family get such a heap of chronic suffering? When does it just end?
Do you hear the familiar theme through the ages? Why? Why suffering?
Christ himself speaks to this issue, “In the world you will have tribulations; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Notice the lack of a “why” explanation.
Jesus Christ does not ignore the suffering. He confronted it purposefully. In fact, he led a life of compassion, healing, caring for the sick and needy.
There are basic reasons that suffering exists and that our world is in a huge mess. Satan is to blame. The sin of man brought unfathomable ruin.
The sin-curse exists in every corner of the globe. There is no culture untouched. No life is untainted. Romans 3 leaves no question about that fact.
Christ came to relieve our ultimate suffering, the soul suffering due to our ugly sins. The hate, selfishness, envy, pride, bitterness, slander, theft, and the list goes on…
I have thought about His wounds a lot lately. Why would He would so love the world and leave His place of perfection to suffer?
Why would He be willing to feel pain, sickness, sorrow? Why would He talk with the “scum” and touch the untouchables?
NO other god in the history of the world would do such a thing.
By His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53. That is the ultimate healing. He freely offers it at the price of His own life laid down for guilty sinners.
We crave earthly healing. Earthly relief. I know I do, at least.
And we are instructed to pray for it. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayed with a heart that kneels before an almighty God, this is one of the most powerful statements of faith and longing.
We also groan, like creation, waiting for the ultimate redemption from our suffering.
Does this mean those that suffer the most have sinned the most?
One of those pressing questions, again. The Book of Job informs us otherwise. In fact, those that insisted Job’s suffering was due to his sin were soundly rebuked by God himself.
But we never get a full answer to WHY the suffering. Instead, God reminds Job (and through him, all of us) of His mighty power and wisdom. His infinity. Our finiteness.
We are reminded that as all have sinned, those who believe receive grace — free, undeserved favor from God.
Why don’t we question this, too? Why me? Why have I been so blessed to know and believe Your love and grace to me?
This was the whisper in my ear this week when I was thinking, Enough already! God sent a friend who also was overwhelmed by suffering. Sometimes that human voice that says, I know how you feel, is really the voice of God to our ears.
My hubby had a splitting migraine for most of the week.
He got out of the house a couple of times but for only a short jaunt. Yesterday he took all of the pain meds he could so that he could walk a few doors down the block to hear some live music.
Twice in a thirty minute time he was told how good he looked by two friends that have some small awareness of his health issues.
I really think they meant it kindly. I do. But some don’t.
They say it in a tone of disbelief. You can almost hear the thoughts tumbling around in their heads. Sometimes small remarks tumble out of their mouths, too.
Oh, you must be pulling my leg about your health issues. You’re not so bad off. Why aren’t you working, again?
My sis in love got some similar remarks and responses. (No one really expects a stage four cancer victim to hold down a job. That’s a relief!) She was such a fighter and an upbeat person. She made a huge effort to leave the house looking good.
In fact, for most of the four years she fought stage four cancer, you would have to be around her for awhile to catch on. The joy of the LORD truly was her strength.
Being on her care team gave me an inside glance of the true nature of living with cancer in your bones. At home you tend to let your hair down, so to speak.
I saw her sit and groan softly many times through unbearable pain. Gratefully accepting a cup of tea she could barely stomach, though she wanted it so badly. Many barely touched plates of food…
For many years I have regularly seen my hubby struggle to make it out of bed for a few hours at a time. He consistently naps every day after laying in bed until late in the morning. His bones hurt every day, too.
He can look good and still struggle with a boatload of pain.
Looks can be deceiving in so many ways. Tell folks how you feel, and you’re a whiner. Put on your game face, and you’re not as ill as you’re reported to be.
It’s an odd conundrum that many chronically ill people face and their spouses, too.
Understandably, you feel on the defensive at some of the pointed or careless remarks that get shot your way. I know I do.
I sat and listened as my sis almost cried about several folks asking her when she was due. And, are you excited about the baby?
In fact, she had already lost her ovaries to cancer. Her liver was so swollen she looked like she was starting her second trimester. But she loved her two babies like there was no tomorrow.
How do you deal with these unwitting arrows that people shoot at you?
“HE is my defense. I shall not be moved.”
I have listened to Marty Goetz’ CD, “HE Is My Defense” dozens of times in the past few months. The Scripture set to music heals the wounds. Jesus is the “horn of my salvation”. That horn can either call for help or push its point in my defense.
I need a Defender! I need a Refuge. I need the solid Rock to stand on.
Truth. I, too, have inflicted needless wounds with my tongue. If we live long enough, we all fall short in this area. Greatest. News. Ever. His wounds have paid my ransom.
Forgiveness. I need to extend grace and forgiveness to those who act like we have leprosy because of the chronic illness in our family. Or those who carelessly speak. Why? His Word is ultra clear. If I don’t forgive, it is clear I have not been forgiven. Those who forgive the most love the most like Jesus.
Understand that some folks will never “get” chronic illness. Forgive. Rest in His defending love. What are some ways you respond? How does invisible illness challenge your family?