Monday, July 29, 2013

In my mind: Sick and tired of it all

Some of you may know that I have Lyme Disease and maybe you don't (that's okay! If you'd like to learn more, check out my story and Lyme Disease Awareness)
I'm going to be really real right now.
I hope this doesn't seem like a whole bunch of complaining on my part...
usually I'm all about giving a positive message, but
my main objective is to give some insight into what a person with a chronic disease often feels.
(It may sound really negative and I'm sorry, but I promise, my motive is positive.)
Maybe you know someone who is living with a chronic disease or maybe you're the one living with a chronic disease, so in either case, I pray that you find hope.
Maybe you'll find hope in understanding your loved one a little better or maybe you'll find hope by knowing that you aren't the only one feeling this way.
In a few months, it will be 2 years since I've been on treatment, 1 1/2 years of that being aggressive treatment, and over 10 years of symptoms.
This is how I feel about that...
I'm sick and tired of just feeling crappy all the time.
I'm sick and tired of the majority of the medical community being ignorant of this disease that wreaks so much havoc on so many lives.
I'm sick and tired of being a 23 year old and not being able to act like one with my own place and career. 
I'm sick and tired of worrying about if a certain food is going to make me feel worse.
I'm sick and tired of worrying about doing something that might make me feel like I've been run over the next day.
I'm sick and tired of searching for words (serious brain fog and word block often come with Lyme...lovely, huh?! Sorry for that sarcasm haha).
I'm sick and tired of always thinking about what medicine I need to take next.
I'm sick and tired of people saying it's all in my head.
I'm sick and tired of being attached to my heating pad (haha true story).
I'm sick and tired of being the friend that has to cancel 80% of the time because of how I feel.
I'm sick and tired of feeling like I'm on a rollercoaster ride (rollercoasters are fun for the most part, but moving from highs to lows can get old haha).
I'm sick and tired of feeling like the person that makes things difficult for everyone.
I'm sick and tired of Lyme Disease stealing my tears.
I'm sick and tired of people not understanding.
Whew, that was a lot. Sorry I had to unload on you like that. Let me end on a positive note (I always like to be positive ;)
I'm thankful for the people in my life who do love me for all of me...including this yucky disease. It doesn't define me, but it is a part of my life right now. They make life easier for me...what a blessing.
I'm thankful for my doctor...that he has taken the risk to treat despite ignorant rules of the medical community.
I'm thankful for other lymies like myself, for creating such a supportive and encouraging community that gives me such comfort to know that there are some people who actually understand how I feel.
Most of all, I'm thankful for God and His everlasting presence and hope in my life (even when I'm upset and don't understand). I'm still thankful for all that God has taught me during this time and is continuing to teach me.
I hope this has helped you understand my thoughts a little better.
Also, I hope this hasn't made you feel different about me or my writings.
As you may be a friend/loved one of someone who suffers with a chronic disease, I challenge you to be there for that person. If she/he cancels on going out, maybe say, "That's perfectly okay...can I come over and we can watch a movie?" Or simply asking, "How are you feeling today? Don't say okay, but I really want to know how you're feeling...emotionally and physically." People may ask me how I'm feeling physically, but I hardly ever get asked, "How are you feeling emotionally?" Although you may never really understand, all that matters is that you try to understand.
As a person who suffers with a chronic disease, I pray that you know that you aren't alone in this struggle. I pray that you find hope in the only thing that you can find true hope in...God. I pray that you have people in your life (or at least one), that attempt to understand...cares for you...and uplifts you.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5
Check out dear friend Alisa's (the first person I met with Lyme & my first lyme friend) video and her song about lyme.
My next post will be part of the Following in Your Footsteps series...stay tuned!
ps- thanks for stopping by and hearing me out (if you're new here, my posts aren't usually like this) means a lot :)
Reading Plan
Today: Psalm 21-25
Tuesday: Psalm 26-31
Wednesday: Psalm 32-35
Thursday: Psalm 36-39
Friday: Psalm 40-45
Saturday: Psalm 46-50
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Following in Your Footsteps: If you love...

If you love someone, then you are...
"Say what, Chelsea?! Did you say if you love someone, you are judgmental?"
Oops...what I mean is...
If you love someone, then you are...
Open minded.
 If we say we are following Jesus, the second list should make up how we treat others. You see, I thought about writing separate posts on different characteristics of Jesus such as grace, compassion, and ending with love. However, I realized that they all go hand-in-hand.
If you love someone, then you are going to be respectful and compassionate..etc.
When I think of Jesus, the first word that comes to my mind is love.
As Christians or Christ followers, our first priority should be to love, then everything else follows along.
Of course, like I've said before, we aren't perfect like Jesus, but because of His love for us we can love others.
1 John 4:19 says, "We love because He first loved us."
I know that it can be difficult sometimes to love, but love is the best way to embody the Gospel.
As a church/body of believers, we should be constantly aware of how we are treating people. We should be always welcoming to everyone and anyone. We should never turn anyone away for any reason. We should love unconditionally, just like Christ did.
He hung out with the sinners...He let a prostitute wash His feet with her hair....He wasn't afraid to interact with people who might be different than Him.
For instance, if a lesbian couple walks into a should we treat them?
If we were to ask Jesus, I'm sure He would say, "love them".
We aren't God...we don't have the right to judge them, the only thing we need to do is love them.
Many people say "love the sinner and hate the sin", but Tony Campolo says, "Jesus says, 'love the sinner and hate your own sin'".
What if a homeless man walks into a should we treat them?
Do we go lock up everything valuable? Do we tell him to leave?
Jesus wouldn't tell him to leave...Jesus would talk to him...feed him and love him.
You see, we have a lot to learn from Jesus. The church needs His compassion, love, generosity, grace (etc..) in order to shine His light throughout the world. Many people think that being a Christian is all about rules, but guess what?
The only 2 things that Jesus commands us to do is to...
love God
love others.
 So it may be helpful if we are constantly checking ourselves...reminding ourselves that as we grow in relationship with God our love for Him grows and will soon spill out to others.
Reading plan for this week:
Monday: Job 35-37
Tuesday: Job 38-39
Wednesday: Job 40-42
Thursday: Psalm 1-8
Friday: Psalm 9-16
Saturday: Psalm 17-20
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Following in Your Footsteps: Role Models

 Do you have a role model? Someone that you wish you could be at least a fraction of who they are? Maybe it's someone that you know personally...someone that you've known for years or perhaps it's someone that you know from a distance. 

Think about for a second what you like about that person.

Do you like the way they dress? Admire their intelligence? The way they carry themselves?
When I was a kid, I had a couple role models (Sarah and Amanda). I remember wanting to dress like them, fix my hair like them, and go to the same college as they did. It may sound silly, but thoughts like, "Would Sarah say that?" or "Would Amanda do that?" occupied my mind often. As a young girl, I was wanting to model my actions around young women that I looked up to.

Now that I'm older, role models are not important to me anymore. However, at the same time, I realize that there is someone that I should try to mirror. This person is a constant presence in my life. Someone that is highly admired, yet someone who is rarely classified as a role model. I'm sad to say that although I know this person, I don't take advantage of modeling my life after this person. Can anybody guess who this person is? Yep, you got it...Jesus.

I'm blessed enough to learn about Jesus and the way He lived His life here on earth by reading the Bible, but when I'm being honest with myself, am I really living out the teachings of Jesus Christ? This has been on my mind a lot lately. Here I have the makings of a perfect role model, but I'm not taking advantage. Jesus modeled the way we are to live in a way that encourages community, growth, and bringing glory to God. 

 Jesus teaches us grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, humility, and most importantly, love (as well as many others). It makes me sad to think that we pick people like celebrities, bosses and others to be our role models, when we have the perfect role model always available to us...Jesus.

In the next few posts, we'll look at more specifically how Jesus models a lifestyle for us. Maybe we already practice this lifestyle and maybe we don't, but I think it is important to be reminded of who we should really be mirroring. 

Ephesians 5:1 - "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave
 Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." 

Reading plan for the week: 
Today:  Job 14-16
Tuesday: Job 17-20
Wednesday: Job 21-23
Thursday: Job 24-28
Friday: Job 29- 31
Saturday: Job 32-34

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Following in Your Footsteps: Anyone can do it

Last time we talked about what the common perceptions of a Christian and what it really means to be a Christian...a Christ follower.
A lot of people have this idea that only "good" people can be Christians.
Only people that have it all together can follow Christ.
Only people with money can be Christians.
Only people who have never said or done anything bad can follow Christ.
BUT, I tell you, none of that is true.
Jesus doesn't ask for only people with money to follow Him.
He doesn't ask for perfect people to follow Him.
INSTEAD, He asks for ALL people to follow Him.
Maybe you think that you have messed up too many times to follow Jesus
or maybe you don't feel like you're good enough, but the good news is that Jesus doesn't care about that. He wants you...all of you...flaws, past mistakes, everything. He wants you to follow Him where you are, right now.
In fact, Jesus could have picked rich, educated men to be His disciples while He was here on earth, but He didn't. He chose fishermen and one tax collector. He chose simple men who were not perfect, but imperfect. Acts 4:13 says, "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus."
Jesus didn't have requirements like:
-You have to go to church every Sunday.
-You have to obtain a 4.0 gpa.
-You have to wear Sperry's and have the latest gaming system.
-You have to have a clean record.
-You must have the Bible memorized and recite it forwards/backwards.
Whew! I'm glad He doesn't have requirements like that for us.
His only requirement is:
"And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." ~Luke 9:23
(More on that later)
Kyle Idleman says in his book, Not a Fan..."When Jesus invited Matthew to follow, he was making it clear that this is an open invitation extended not solely to the religious elite , the morally upright, and those who have their lives together. But it is an invitation to all of us who are hiding some stains. Jesus throws out the elitist application process and gives you an open invitation."
He also writes...
"So who is invited to follow Jesus? Anyone.
Sexual past? Anyone.
Ex-con? Anyone. Current con? Anyone.
Recently divorced? Anyone.
Republican? Democrat? Anyone.
Alcoholic? Anyone.
Pothead? Anyone.
Addict? Anyone.
Hypocrite? Anyone."
You know what that means?
Jesus wants you to follow Him.
Next time, we'll talk about what it looks like to follow in Jesus' footsteps.
Reading plan for this week:
Monday: Esther 1-5
Tuesday: Esther 6-10
Wednesday: Job 1-4
Thursday: Job 5-7
Friday: Job 8-10
Saturday: Job 11-13
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Following in Your Footsteps: What makes a Christian?

When you think of a Christian, what do you think of?
-A person who goes to church every single Sunday, including a Bible study every week.
-A person who puts money in the offering plate at church.
-A person who has a "Christian fish" on their car bumper.
-A person who has 75 Bible verses memorized.
OR maybe you think of a Christian as...
-A person who doesn't like to have fun.
-A person who forces their beliefs on others.
-A person who judges others in a hateful manner.
-A person who is hypocritical.
OR maybe when you think of a Christian, you think of all of the above.
If you were to look up "Christian" in the dictionary, it would probably say, "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ". And if someone believes in something, in turn they would act on it or follow it, right?
So whatever Jesus teaches, a Christian should follow it, correct?  
Let's play a game of TRUE/FALSE...
-Jesus didn't like to have fun. FALSE, how could a guy not have fun with his friends (aka disciples) fishing on the boat?
-Jesus forced His beliefs on others. FALSE, of course, He told people what He thought, but He never did it in a condescending way, instead He lovingly spoke His mind.
-Jesus judged others in a hateful manner. FALSE, Jesus may have told people to repent, but He always did it in a loving way.
-Jesus was hypocritical. FALSE, what He said, He did and what He did, He said.
So if Jesus didn't do those things, Christians shouldn't either (but more on that on the next post). In Shane Claiborne's book, Irresistible Revolution, he said,
 "He saw Jesus in me. And I saw Jesus in Him."
That's how it should be.
If we are hypocritical, judgmental, and arrogant, people will not see Jesus in us.
Christians should strive to show Jesus to everyone around them.
Of course, because we are humans, we are not perfect, but we can still try our best to live the way Christ wants us to live.
Shane also talks about his search for a real Christian. He said, "I wondered what it would look like if we decided to really follow Jesus. In fact, I wasn't sure what a fully devoted Christian looked like or if the world had even seen one in the last few centuries. From my desk at college, it looked like some time back we had stopped living Christianity and started just studying it."
Like I said, this book may make you feel a tad bit uncomfortable, but it's so thought provoking.
I think many people think of Christianity as a religion, which it is; however, I think it should be seen as a way of life, instead of a list rules.
Let's eliminate the negative connotation of Christianity that our culture has created and let's simply follow Christ - loving God & loving others.
Today, I just started reading Kyle Idleman's book, Not a Fan, and  he says, "Following by definition requires more than mental assent, it calls for movement."

I don't know if you are following Christ, but either way, I'm so glad you are checking the series out! I hope you stop by again as we journey together about what it looks like to walk in Jesus' footsteps. I hope we can be challenged together to really, really follow Jesus. I know that I have been the opposite of Christ-like  many times, so I am thankful for God's grace and forgiveness.  
If you want, check out my post Are you a fan or follower? to see what category you may fit in.
Think about this & feel free to share below in a comment-I'd love to hear!
As Christians, what are some ways we have contributed to this negative perception? Where have we messed up and how can we shed positive light on Christianity?
Don't forget to pray for the unreached people group of the day!
Bible reading plan this week:
Monday: Nehemiah 1-3
Tuesday: Nehemiah 4-6
Wednesday: Nehemiah 7
Thursday: Nehemiah 8-9
Friday: Nehemiah 10-11
Saturday: Nehemiah 12-13
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