Do you ever have days where you just feel discouraged? Today is one of those days, so bear with me. Despite physical therapy and medication, my knee and elbows are still painful and swollen from the arthritis some days, and increasingly so this past week. I’ve been fighting some kind of cold every couple of weeks, which makes it hard to have the energy to get much else done besides work and keeping up with household stuff. I’ll make a little progress with PT, and then it feels like I take two steps backwards. Praying for energy and to stay healthy even though I’m around so many germs at work. Praying for wisdom as well, because Bo and I are beginning to think that working on a med surg floor may not be the best thing for me physically long-term.
Despite all of that, there have been some exciting things happening. I have to remember that even with the physical stuff going on, there’s a bigger picture and God is so, so good. I’m preaching to the choir here… It’s easy to lose focus on God’s goodness when we are dealing with aches and pain. Thankfully, we’ve started up with a young women’s Bible study again after being on break since Christmas. We’re doing Christine Caine’s “Unashamed” study (reading the book and doing a weekly DVD session in one another’s homes). It’s such an encouragement and reminder of God’s faithfulness to be around a small group of women my own age. To hear everyone’s struggles, victories, prayer requests, and words of encouragement to each other is just such a priceless gift.
That brings me to something that has been on my heart to share: the power our words have to build up or tear down. Here are five verses that I’ve copied into my journal on what the Bible says about our words:
- Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
- Ephesians 4:29 “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
- James 1:26 “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
- Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Encourage one another and build one another up.”
This reminder is for everyone reading and myself as well: is there anyone around you who is discouraged? Anyone who needs a reminder that they are loved? That they matter? Anyone at all who is struggling? It’s our job as followers of Christ to build one another up. If we allow God to be in control of our words, there is such incredible POWER to overturn what the devil is doing to discourage and beat down those around us. Like Proverbs says, our words are “sweet to the soul and healthy for the body”of the person we are speaking to. That’s amazing! I’ve found that when I’m feeling down and discouraged, the best antidote for that is to do my best to be an encouragement to others. So that’s going to be my goal today, and I hope that this is food for thought for those reading!
I know I’m a couple of days late, but Happy New Year! I’ve never been much for New Year’s resolutions, but there are just a few things that have been on my heart that I wanted to share.
But first – a little health update! I’ve been seeing a rheumatologist for the joint pain I’ve been experiencing. I’ve been to see her twice and will go back in another couple of weeks for a followup visit. She has been very positive and encouraging, and so knowledgeable! It’s still a little confusing because my lab work doesn’t show any specific arthritis markers. She’s diagnosed me with “seronegative inflammatory arthritis.” She told me that sometimes the lab work shows up negative, but not to be surprised if later on down the road as the disease progresses it starts to show up positive. But God is so, so good, and with the right treatment and doing my best to stay active and moving, the pain is almost gone! I’ve been feeling so much better that on New Year’s Day we actually went on a 3-mile hike.
Here are some photos from our New Year’s Day hike to Hawksbill Crag (Shot with a Nikon D3300):
Photo credit: Jacob Bruggeman
Photo credit: random hiker
Photo credit: Jacob Bruggeman
So blessed to be feeling good enough to walk without pain – it’s the little things in life that we so much take for granted! That’s definitely something that God has been showing me over the last six months.
Now, for those New Year’s resolutions. I have three! Maybe that sounds like overkill, but all three have been on my heart and I feel are worth sharing:
- Regaining my physical strength – this one might seem a little obvious with everything that has been going on. It’s a goal of mine to really work on my strength and become stronger than I’ve ever been in 2017. I want hike, kayak, camp… I want to take every opportunity that comes up to explore new places!
- Being generous to others – this is something Bo and I have really been talking about lately. These past six months we have really had people go out of their way to bless us and make sure that we were taken care of. We want to show that same kindness to others this coming year. We want to focus on showing hospitality in our home, giving to others, and doing small acts of kindness. We are praying for hearts that will be open to opportunities as God leads us!This third one is much more personal. It’s not fun or easy for me to share this, because I’m more than a little ashamed when I think back on the way I’ve acted. BUT, if this is encouraging for anyone or sheds light on some of the same struggles for even one other person out there then it’s well worth it for me to share it and I just need to swallow my pride, ha!
- Being kind to the people closest to me – there have been so many nights I’ve come home from work exhausted and have been less than nice to my poor hubs. I don’t know if I speak for any other nurses out there (Please… I’m hoping that I’m not alone in this…), but after a 12-13 hour shift of being “nice” to patients and family members, sometimes when I get home I just explode. It’s like a bomb going off. All of the frustrations I’ve bottled up and the words I’ve had to bite my tongue and swallow over the course of the day just seem to fly through the air like shrapnel. And of course they hit the ones closest to me.
I don’t want to go into this in a lot of detail, but I’ll paraphrase something I wrote in my journal last month after an experience similar to what I just described: “It doesn’t matter how kind I was to my patients at work; it doesn’t matter that I made sure they had every little thing they needed even if that meant staying late; it doesn’t matter that I smoothed over a difficult situation; it doesn’t matter that I had a meaningful conversation with a patient or co-worker. All of that good stuff I did at work becomes null and void if I come home and can’t even speak kindly to the nearest and dearest person that God has placed in my life.”
So, if anyone out there struggles with this, please comment below and let me know I’m not alone! I’m not sure why it is, but I’ve found that some days it’s hardest to be kind to the very person who loves you the most and seemingly should be the easiest to be kind to. God has really been convicting me of this, and it’s my top personal goal for 2017 – to just be nice.
In conclusion, let’s just say I’m really looking forward to a New Year and new beginnings! I’m excited to work on getting my strength back and exploring and getting outdoors as much as possible. I’m hoping for God to give Bo and I many, many opportunities to bless others – I know that He will! And I’m feeling very humbled after sharing that third personal goal of working on being kind to the ones closest to me. I’m praying for God to renew my heart going into this new year.
May He help me and each one reading this post to never grow weary of doing good, and to show mercy and grace to others as we have been shown mercy and grace. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year!