Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Tea

For new readers, I call my Sunday ponderings Sunday Afternoon Tea after Edith Schaeffer's Sunday teas held at L'Abri when she and her husband (the late Francis Schaeffer) would serve tea and conversation each week. How I would have loved to be there.

This week's Sunday chat came out of a week of fatigue and the frustrations of dealing with chronic illness. There's really no use to complain as that does no good and only brings down those around us. Instead I've learned to work within limitations and do that which I can do each day.

It doesn't have to be physical limitations which cause us to rethink everyday activities... financial setbacks and lean years must be met with rethinking daily "to do's" as well as yearly goals. Marriage, moving, a change in career... all come with rethinking.

Nothing changes our days as do children in our life... from the welcomed birth, through the active toddler years (I basically stayed home when Christopher was a toddler!), school activities... whether homeschooled or part of the neighborhood classrooms... through their high school and college years.

All this to say... working within the confines of a chronic illness does not make me the Lone Ranger. We all must make mid-course corrections in our life, "tweaking" that which we have always done. There is often a need to accept where we find ourselves in life, when no amount of wishing or working will change circumstances.

For much of my life, I have met stress by tying an apron around my waist and spending time in the kitchen. I love every part of cooking and baking. (A long ago friend told me I'm the only person she knew whose idea of Heaven include an apron and a kitchen.) :)

However, the pain which has deepened in my right arm for years has now traveled to the left... causing difficulty of movement. Juvenile Diabetes and thyroid disease bring with them intense and overwhelming fatigue as well as the usual side affects with feet and eyes.

It would be easy to be angry at God that He would allow such chronic illness to one who has no insurance... and having spent years being just above the annual income for govt. insurance... yet, at the cusp of poverty lines... thinking perhaps God has "missed it" and forgotten all about me.

Yet, I know quite often those times I feel His peace in the midst of the storms of life. He chooses not to take me out of the storm but (as the lyrics of a song states) He takes the storm out of me. He never tells me I must understand to have that peace... no, quite often instead He allows the storms to intensify.

I'm reminded of the water thrown from my salad in the spinner as it twirls faster and faster. The salad ingredients certainly must not appreciate the cool water being so forcibly removed from their leaves (should lettuce have feelings, of course). I know removing the water is also taking away all the dirt still clinging to it.. otherwise it is just dizzy lettuce. :)

I have learned to be thankful for what He has given me instead of complaining. This cute house at the edge of the forest is appreciated even more after having to give up the "dream house" years ago. Stretching out on a cozy sofa and watching a couple of PBS cooking shows in the afternoon and Foyle's War in the evening... with Sasha curled next to me... is even sweeter after having no access to PBS for a couple of years. Saying goodbye to Sasha's sister two years ago causes me to appreciate each day we have our elderly kitty with us.

Pain free days can only be appreciated by those who experience pain. A check in the mail to help stock the pantry would not bring tears to the eyes of a millionaire. A cup of good coffee or a shared favorite tea would be a strange gift to one who can stop at Starbucks every morning.

How many friends I've known who were glowing at their wedding after waiting years for the man God had for them all along... and I've seen the tears of those who jumped into marriage out of the fear of being alone.

How precious is the site of an adopted baby held in the arms of parents who longed for a child of their own... yet, knowing instantly this child was to be theirs all along. Similar joy is felt at the birth of a much longed for baby, as we felt with the birth of each child after our first went to Heaven so soon after his birth.

During this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, we are enjoying the benefits of sowing and reaping... after weeks of fighting the curse of Eden with weeds and bugs and all sorts of challenges to our garden or farm.

God's ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He never promises we will understand all we go through as we are sojourners on the path of this life. He warns us this isn't Heaven so don't be surprised when the road is covered with rocks and we find ourselves hungering and thirsty... He says He is the Bread and the Living Water.

In the meantime, I've learned to appreciate what I do have and not complain about what is missing. Well, most of the time. :)


Anonymous said...

Back here they say: "I hears ya!" and I do, empathy and sympathy. Dealing with pain, fatigue and kinship troubles seems to be an almost daily occurance. There is a rabbi I like to listen to and read a bit from, and he says EVERYTHING is from God's hand...and in the END EVERYTHING will be for our best...we may know how that is in this life, and sometimes we may not. THAT thought has helped me deal with especially the blows from kin. (That and the thought that I did NOT choose them!!...but I get to do my best to be who GOD made me to be and to treat them well, in spite of what they do). Tis not easy however...I heard once that the trials of the journey will be lost in the joys of the FEAST...and I certainly do intend to be at the Feast of the Lamb, maybe one day not too far distant. Hang in there...and thanks for being transparent. What you write is incouraging and interesting in the variety too of what you share! Thanks,

scrappy quilter said...

Another wonderful post. Hope you are having a wonderful Sun. spent with family and enjoying a cup of tea.

Lisa Richards said...

I hear you, too! It's amazing how many around us are going through trials of many kinds and we're not aware of it. Our family has had it's share as well. To paraphrase (and add to) an old saying:

What doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger! Or, it can make you bitter. Choose the former!

I don't believe God puts sickness and troubles on us. Jesus went everywhere delivering people from these things. But while they linger we DO LEARN many things, as you mention in this post.

Sunday tea is a beautiful thing. I also love Edith's books!

God bless!

Marlene Depler said...

I enjoyed your perspective today. Thank you for sharing. ---And give me an apron and spoon, too. I would love to join you in the heavenly kitchen!

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you, Brenda! God doesn't allow things to happen to us; he allows us to depend on Him when they do! Many years ago, I lived on less than $1000 a month and had four small children at home. We had lost everything, homes, business, insurance, all. We had food stamps while I struggled to go to college. Today, I proudly show my students the food stamp and tell them, "Use what God gives you so you can give to others." Another wonderful blessing in your post! Thanks! Matty

Susan P. said...

I feel so blessed to be back here reading your words of wisdom via your Sunday afternoon tea!

Without a doubt I think contentment can be one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

BTW, please make that three in the "heavenly" kitchen:)

Anonymous said...

Brenda, we are alike in so many ways but cooking is not one of them! I have been praying for God to give me a desire to cook so it doesn't seem like a chore.

You are so right about the bad things making us appreciate the good things and God is good!

Friend Debra

DarcyLee said...

Thank you, Brenda, for being so transparent as you share your life with us. It helps others when you do that. I know what it is to be without and to wonder how we are going to make ends meet, but God is always faithful. In fact, that is one of the names of Christ in Revelation-Faithful. He will take care of His own and even if all we have is Christ, that is enough.

Lynn said...

What a lovely post, Brenda. Thanks so much for sharing. I have never been so happy at going to the dentist as I was after a time where we didn't have the money (or insurance) to enable us to go. Being without, even if it's for a short while, certainly changes your perspective, and gives you great appreciation for those little things that God provides along the way. It sounds like you have a great attitude toward life's challenges.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Thanks for a great post and encouragement. I really neded to hear it today! V.

hmsclmom said...

As usual Brenda your post is something that I can really relate to. Between chronic illness, kinship troubles, financial stresses we can always count on our God to be there to help us through and to see the beauty around us in the midst of the storm. I love that song by Scott Kripayne that says "sometimes he calms storm and other times His child". We are indeed blessed to be His children. :)

Connie said...

I am so thankful for my health as it is right now. I know that it can change in an instant. Your blog is so interesting and I am encouraged by your attitude towards things happening in your life. God truly is faithful. God bless you as you face each new day.

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Brenda, this is such a meaningful post to me. I thank you so much for sharing what you deal with having chronic pain. I, too, have chronic pain and I feel at times that those around me get tired of my limitations. I try not to complain, but at times it seems to fly out of my mouth. God has been so good to me and I have so much I am blessed with. I know in my heart that someday our pain will be totally gone. It's just that here in the now it can get old fast. I would love to be able to share Sunday Tea with you someday. I always wonder if you have someone there to share with you. I feel like we would have so much to talk about and I would have a million questions about your pantry and your tips about just everything. Thanks for all you share.

Pom Pom said...

Thank you for sharing. It sounds as though you are a learner, paying attention to what happens on your earthly journey and looking to Jesus for His great grace.
I am so encouraged when Edith Schaeffer is mentioned. She made such an imprint and continues to do so.

Heather said...

Brenda - I'm with you! When the going gets tough, the tough get baking! I'm terrible at the 'watch and pray', but great at the 'bake and pray'! I do think we'll be blessed with a self cleaning kitchen in heaven, don't you?

Our pastor has been doing a series on weathering the storms of life, based in the gospels and tonight he talked about how to make the storm worse! Many of the folks chuckled when they read the title of the handout, but really, it was a great reminder! Forgetting God's past faithfulness, thinking that God is not aware of our struggles, and failing to realize that God is willing to do something about even our smallest problems were three of the ways we can make our struggles worse than they really are! I am so glad that you are remembering God's past faithfulness, knowing His awareness of your struggle, and bringing even the smallest thing to Him - you are doing it all. The hardest part for me is resting in Him and praising Him in the midst of the storm - I need to learn the fine art of not complaining - like you!

Anonymous said...

Seems as we grow old the health problems big and small just multiply. Some of mine though hopefully can be resolved. Can they do anything to help your arms Brenda? Is it something that could be helped if you had medical insurance? You have a ways till medicare time and who knows what it will cover by that time..sigh...I feel for you. You are so sweet. I am at a loss for words ,.. but I sure wish I could be of help. I will though keep sending my prayers. Jody

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Well, being content is something I'm working on. Not there yet, I'm afraid. I still rail against circumstances and, you're right, so much of our troubles we really don't "deserve." Of course, we don't deserve God's unequivocal love, either, so I have to keep that balance in mind. Thanks for a thoughtful, peaceful post. I, like you, often find solace in cooking. I like to think it is in feeding others...maybe the gift is what releases some of our angst. C

Jennie said...

Whenever I am feeling defeated and know I need to change my attitude I like to pray and think on Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of something Nancy Leigh Demoss said..not an exact paraphrase...but "anything that causes me to need God, is a good thing". I am also comforted by God's promises, and I KNOW that one day I will agree with God that His way was exactly the best way for me...despite how it looks at the moment. Thank you for your calming, soothing tone of writing.

TB said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful, inspiring post today. I am new to your blog, and I have gone back and read all of the pantry "articles". You write beautifully, and your message is important. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, there is a new treatment for both diabetes and thyroid disease. I know that the diabetes treatment is called Islett stem cell treatment. You could ask your doctor about it and also do an internet search as there is a lot of information about it on the web. I hope you will find this helpful,

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence. My idea of heaven includes you in an apron in a kitchen, too. Can I stay in your mansion?

I'm so sorry about your pain traveling from one arm to the other. Pain in the arms is so debilitating and limits even your "restful" activities.

Your words are especially uplifting in large part *because* of all you have been through, dear Brenda. I love Edith Schaeffer's writing but I love your writing just as much. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. <3