Illness and Encouragement

This blog has not turned out what I had originally planned.  When the year began, I desired to write everyday, which has not happened, as you can see.

I have actually been unwell and just have not had the energy to write blogs.  Let me explain a little so you can hopefully understand me a bit better.  I was an active Salvation Army officer/minister.  I am happily married with two wonderful boys who are now teenagers. Sometime in 2010 I became ill.  I was tired all the time; everything I did made me exhausted.  I’m not just talking about being tired after a long day’s work or several days without sleep, although this is what it felt like.  This exhaustion was after doing simple things such as leading a service.

We moved to Gateshead in 2011 and the exhaustion continued.  I just thought I needed more rest.  It wasn’t until 2012, when I finally had the courage to discuss this with my doctor, that I found out I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I was told I should take some time off work to learn to pace myself and get better.  Well, I did try to pace my activities and rest, but I couldn’t keep up with the pace of officership.  I then pretty much collapsed at the end of 2013 and have not been able to get back to work since.

I also endured constant pain in my lower back to the point where I cannot walk very far without support (I use crutches in the house to help me) and I cannot stand for more than 5-10 minutes at a time.  I was diagnosed with degenerative arthritis in my lower spine.  Whenever I go out, I have to be in a wheelchair due to the pain and fatigue.  I also was diagnosed with fibromyalgia due to muscle and nerve pain all over my body.

I struggle with day to day living as it completely routine: get up, shower, breakfast, Facebook, nap, cards, colouring, Facebook, tea, knitting, bed, with some physio exercises in between.

When I have a bad day, I cannot manage making cards or knitting.  This frustrates the fire out of me. This has been the case a lot the past couple of months.

Why am I telling you this? First of all to tell you this has not been an easy journey for me.  I have grieved so many times my former life and ministry.  I struggle some days wondering why.  I am still off work and the medical staff tells me all they can do is give me support.  I have no idea if I will ever be able to have the energy to go back to work.  If I had energy and didn’t have to fight constant fatigue, I could manage some things in my wheelchair.   However, for now, I am pretty much housebound except for doctors’ appointments and holidays.  I get excited about going out shopping, even if it’s at Tesco.

During this time of illness, I have started several groups and pages on Facebook.  I use this as ministry.  I wanted this blog to be ministry related as well.  I want it to be a place of encouragement.  I see so many people struggling and in my own struggles, I want to minister to others.

I cannot say I understand why God is allowing me to go through all of this, however, I can say I know without a shadow of a doubt God is with me.

I am able to spend more time with him, and when the boys are at school or out with their friends, I can spend time in his word.  I continue to study Ephesians and then I have several other books of the Bible to read, write, study and pray when I am able to do so.

It becomes very hard to study or do much of anything else when the fatigue is very strong. Sadly for me, the past 2 plus months I have struggled with cough and cold thus depleting any energy I have.  I am not complaining.  I just have to remind myself it is okay to stop doing for others and rest.  This is not easy as I am sure it isn’t for many others.

I love to knit, make cards, write, and colour. Most everything I do is for other people as I want to bless them.  But when it comes to looking after myself, blessing myself by resting, well, this is a massive challenge.

In praying God’s word, I have to remember I can rest in him.  Some days, the prayers are very simple and I just fall asleep in his arms.  I hope he understands.

All of this blog to say, I need to learn to rest, really rest without worrying about doing for others.  I know I am a human “being” not a human “doing.” It’s not easy shutting off.

I pray God will help me to rest better. I pray he will help me to look after myself better so I can minister to others more effectively.  I pray others will be encouraged in their faith; they are not alone.

I desire this to be a blog to encourage you.  I pray it does.  God bless you.


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