As the Holidays Approach

autumnleaves40The holidays were approaching, yet another specialty medication wasn’t panning out in the way we had hoped, and I found myself in a full-blown Rheumatoid Arthritis flare, longing for any kind of relief from the pain. I called my Rheumatologist to report on my condition and his instructions were, “Lay low and be patient. We have to wait three months before your insurance will accept another change.” Reluctantly, I agreed to restart my pain meds, even though prednisone plays havoc with my emotions, as it was the only relief available for the moment.

God, where are you? And why are none of my usual coping methods acceptable any longer?

I used to be really good at “walking it off” when my mind filled with darkness, and the satisfaction of a job well done could lift my eyes away from my problems, giving me a jolt of hope that maybe my problems weren’t so all-consuming after all.

But now? There was no walking or chore or service that my body would allow. Caring for my basic needs took every available ounce of strength.

The low point came when I looked at the calendar. Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away. We love when our adult children and their families gather at our home. We cook and eat our way through a day of feasting and fun, but this year something had to give, there was no hope I could prepare for that kind of gathering.

So we all agreed to meet at our favorite restaurant and eat our Thanksgiving Dinner gathered around a public table, squeezed into booths and tables shoved together. The laughter flowed, the kids were too loud, and Grandpa’s “Dad-Jokes” made us all roll our eyes. No one was disappointed.

Except for me. I still had not allowed my heart to find the change that God offered me.

As Thanksgiving wound down, my daughters-in-law and daughter approached me with a suggestion and I tried to be gracious. “Let us prepare everything for you when we gather at home this Christmas. It’ll be our gift to you.”

I wish I could say I smiled and laughed and received their gift with joy. Instead, I cried. At least I was honest when I asked them to pray for me. “This is such a hard thing for me to surrender.”

It took the words of a dear friend to shake my heart out of its dry-as-a-desert-place. “You had better receive their gift to you. After all, they’re giving the kindness you taught them through their years of growing up.”

Did I follow her advice or sit in the corner and sulk, because I couldn’t make all the cookies and decorate all the rooms and craft all the gifts the way I was used to? Well, I had moments of contemplating that, but thankfully I heard a more precious Word from my Lord that caused me to change my perspective.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, Coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the GIVING of our FATHER is always a constant. He has more to give us than just another way of coping. He is to be depended upon and will bless our days – painful or whole – with GIFTS of His choosing, always with GOOD in mind.


bettiegilbertheadshotBETTIE GILBERT lives in a small town in Southeast Wisconsin with her husband of 38 years. She blogs at raseasons.blogspot.com, seeking to be transparent on the journey God has her traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis.

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Radical hope. Compassionate change. Equipping those affected by chronic physical and mental illness through community and education rooted in Jesus Christ.

9 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Bettie, what a hope filled post arising out of such challenge and change! I truly sympathise with the longing to turn back the clock to before, to days when chronic illness didn’t define my days. And I know how hard it can be to relinquish the routines we have built up over the years, those holiday habits especially. Yet if we see the offer of help and support as what it is – a beautiful gift of grace from our heavenly Father, rather than a sign of our inadequacy – then maybe we can enjoy it and relax into a new rhythm of resting in the care of others sometimes. I love the words you close with here: “Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the GIVING of our FATHER is always a constant. He has more to give us than just another way of coping” and I love the beautiful new smiley photo of you too! Thank you for your willingness to share your story and thanks to Cindee for hosting you here. Blessings and gentle hugs, dear friend. xo ❤

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  2. Thank you so much, Joy, for your encouraging words! Yes, those offers of help can be such a beautiful grace-gift from our Father, when we open our eyes to see them for what they are, can’t they? I know that those old ways and routines hold a sweet place in our hearts, but our Lord has new and sweet places here too. I’m so thankful for these new connections and help that God has opened up through these digital places! –Blessings and hugs, my friend!

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  3. Thank you Cindee for allowing me to be part of the story-sharing that happens here at Chronic-Joy! I have been so blessed by the encouragement and strengthening in the Lord that you offer! May the Lord continue to bring about His Glory and Grace through your ministry here.

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  4. Oh my, I love this post and the gentle beautiful way God created newness in your pain.
    You have followed my blog for sometime now and encouraged so much! Though I do not know your journey, I was touched by your processing through the holiday season and how God works to remind us that changing the way we do things during hard times is ok. Oh I needed to here this today!
    bless you,
    Wendy from Widow’s Manna

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  5. Thank you for your kind words Wendy! I have been so encouraged by the way that you have openly shared your heart through the journey that God has taken you, so I am blessed that you found encouragement here today! Our Lord is so good to bring us connections in His Body that lift us closer to His Heart. I am so thankful for the gifts of Grace that Chronic-Joy Ministries have held out for us who are walking through hard days. We really do need to hear each other’s stories!

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  6. Bettie, your words are always full of hope and love for our Savior. I’m so glad your friend helped you be willing to accept the gift that your daughters so lovingly wanted to give. It is hard to give up things we love to do, but God is faithful to provide. As you said, “Even if our movements change and our tasks shift, the GIVING of our FATHER is always a constant.” Amen to that.

    May God bless and continue to give you grace and bring you joy! Hugs! xo

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  7. Thank you Gayl for your encouraging words! Yes, I treasure the words of friends who speak truth into our lives. I think they are another of those gifts that our Father is faithful to provide for us! May we keep learning to let go of our old ways to Him, and find more of His grace and joy! Hugs! xo

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  8. Hi Kelsey, Thanks for visiting here! Yes, God is so good to send those to us who can share in the blessing with us when we receive from them. Thank you for your encouraging words! –Blessings!

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