Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Afternoon Tea - When you don't want to celebrate

John Piper wrote a bestselling book with the title Desiring God.  I was amused (but thought it a good idea) years later when he wrote another bestselling book with the title When I Don't Desire God.  I must admit that my thoughts went to the title of that second book when I knew God was giving me the word Celebration as my word for 2020.

I honestly didn't think I wanted Celebration as my Word for the new year.  This past year was difficult, with multiple family members suffering illness, my usual battle with two autoimmune diseases, a significant loss of sight in my already damaged right eye, and a possible life changing event still in recent memory.

I haven't written much lately about my own illness but long time blog readers know that developing Adult Onset Juvenile Diabetes in my forties would go on to change my life completely.  The longer I have lived with it, now twenty years plus, the more limited my world became.  I remember my mother's brother suffering from the same disease and he passed away blind and in a wheelchair long before his two healthy sisters.

Thankfully, there have been a lot of medical breakthroughs since then and while it is still a dangerous disease, the medical discoveries that I benefit from... long term as well as short term insulin, flex pens, ways to keep track of blood sugar, and breakthroughs in treating diabetic eye disease, have extended the years and quality of life for me and many people with Juvenile diabetes.

I'm doing far better than was predicted at first when one specialist I went to predicted a ten year life span after diagnosis and even then... like my uncle, I would be in bad shape if I did survive.  I learned not to let medical professionals predict the future.  God had other plans and twenty years plus later, I'm here!

Then there are the emotional issues that come with having a disease that people cannot actually see. I don't talk about them very much, preferring instead to concentrate on good people who encourage me.  However, there are those who... don't.

 I can't tell you how many times I have been judged because I stay at home so much.  The most common rumor is that I am agoraphobic because people know other people who are diabetic and they get along quite well, thank you very much.  They do not understand the difference between Type 2 diabetes, which something like 95% of diabetics have... and Type 1 diabetes.  You eventually get tired of explaining.

This last year just about plunged me over the edge with one thing after another coming at me.  My already small world became even smaller as reading was difficult.  The vision in my right eye fell to 20/250.  Even cooking became difficult because trying to cook from a recipe book or card made me dizzy.  I could still drive but not in rain, snow, or in the dark (I still can't drive in the dark).

Thankfully, surgery has helped improve the sight in my right eye to 20/40, which means vision is not entirely clear but a whole lot better than it was.  Loved ones continue to deal with their own health issues but they are doing just that... dealing with them.  A change in living conditions is still possible but far from the certainty it once seemed.

I have seen God at work, weaving through the trials of each day in such a way that it was impossible not to see His glorious hand at work.  Unless one was only looking at the problems instead of the answers.  He has given the grace to accept what cannot be changed and to be thankful for what has.

Still... I wasn't sure I was ready to celebrate anything.  The more I thought about it, especially after rereading You Bring the Confetti, it came to me what God was doing by giving me the Word Celebration!  He was telling me to stop concentrating on what I could not do but celebrate what I could.

He was asking me to change the way I looked at my world!

Now, almost three weeks into 2020, is it working?  Yes, it is!  I have been focusing on answers to prayer instead of what still needs prayer.  Which, when one lives in a fallen world, we always have the need for prayer.  One answer comes... another prayer request is needed.

I decided at the beginning of the year to celebrate my improved vision by finishing some of the books I started and had to set aside the last few months of 2019.  So far, I have finished three of the books that I wanted to complete.

I decided to celebrate and purchase a new cookbook with Amazon credit since I'm not getting dizzy when I cook and look at recipes.  (I thank everyone who entered their Amazon shopping through the blog!). It is Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen cookbook, which is the same name as her very good PBS cooking show.  I started trying more Mediterranean recipes a few years ago and now I can continue that goal.

I have decided to take Luci Swindoll's advice in You Bring the Confetti and celebrate by enjoying eating out once in awhile again. Nothing expensive mind you for I am on a budget... perhaps something as simple as going to Panera for coffee and a scone.  But taking the time to really enjoy good coffee and a delicious orange or cinnamon chip scone (with extra insulin!).

It is something I used to enjoy when we were homeschooling and we were out and about all the time (it should be called car schooling in those high school years).  I loved sitting in Panera or another coffee shop with a book.  Lately it took less energy to just make a K-cup in the single use Keurig.  I would not call that a celebration... unless it is my first cup of coffee in the morning, which is always celebrated.

I can definitely see why Celebration is a very good word for 2020, one we all can learn from.  It is easy to get in a rut in the best of circumstances.  However, when you have any trial that stays with you day in and day out... and many of us do... we need to make that decision to do something when we cannot do everything.

Once again, when I stop to think about it, God knows best.  Always.  Even when it takes me awhile to realize it.  Find a way to celebrate life this week, my friends.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
Desiring God by John Piper... here.
When I Don't Desire God by John Piper... here.
You Bring the Confetti by Luci Swindoll... here. (Third Party, I have the older hardback version.)
Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.

Image:  From The Return of the King movie.


Kay said...

I love how God spoke this to you. He never leaves us and when He gives you a word, He has a reason. Eager to see how He continues to help you celebrate this year.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is so good, Brenda! I think I’ve needed some encouragement lately and this post has done it!

Jenny said...

I haven't been reading your blog for very long so I didn't realize you had juvenile diabetes.

My husband was diagnosed with JV when he was 36. Now at 56 (he'll be 57 in a few weeks) he's doing remarkably well. He took charge of the diagnoses even before the drs did having a mother & a younger brother with the disease. He still works full time & helps some watching our 2 yr old grandson.

But you are right about no one understanding why we stay home so much. We give our first energy to our health, then he to his job because we need the income. After that there's little energy left in him to do more than enjoy his family & just be at home. We stopped explaining years ago as well.

I'll check out these books. I haven't read any of them but they look like something I need to read. Thanks

The Journey said...

I do feel still on trial when I don't go to church when I am in pain or I know the super cold is going to cause me more pain. My word for the yr is ABIDE- abiding close to Jesus with this journey we are on, he know all about the struggles. Your blog is always a blessing.

Marie said...

I'm so glad to see your determination and courage. Praying for you! I always enjoy your blog, and I feel that I'm with a good friend.

Rebecca said...

Wonderful to read of how your word is "flowering"--and were only 3 weeks into the year! Yay!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, a wonderful testament of faith and trust. If we all gave thanks to God and trusted Him even in the dark places, how much better off we would be. He is faithful and like you say, "it's not heaven yet". May He bless you and your loved ones with healing and peace. Your faith and endurance are an encouragement and challenge to us. Love you, dear lady. Blessings, Sharon D.

Ann Stevens said...

Always when you write "Sunday Afternoon Tea" my soul is blessed. Often it's with words I didn't even know I needed to hear. I do hope -- and pray -- that this year is an easier one for you and your family and that you truly will find much to celebrate.

My word this year is "inner peace". Sometimes I feel as if I'm the one responsible for everything, especially things that need to be dealt with -- or changed -- or fixed -- not only in my own situations but in others. And that's not my job, it belongs to my Heavenly Father and He is really good at what He does. So by focusing on "inner peace" I am going to do all that I can do and leave the rest in the most capable hands of the Creator.

Elizabeth said...

There is a long list of health issues which may not be seen by others, yet will incredibly change our life...and it is always easier to be critical than to help eh? I do empathize as I have had some "issues" since my teens. Now I have diabetes...#2 type they say. And yes, it is not easy to deal with. Though granted easier than #1 is, no doubt. Last year was a great misery for us in many ways too. I am happy to say that so far, this year has had some improvements...and even just seeing our daughters in better situations in their jobs, has even helped OUR health for Hubby and I, I do believe. I hope this year will finish out better...we simply need a break from stress sometimes. But in all things, as an article once put it, "the trials of the journey will be lost in the joys of the feast" regardless of how it goes in this life, the NEXT ONE will be oh so grand!! I am most thankful to have that to count on!! I do hope your eye situation will improve more too!! Even housebound, there is much to enjoy if our eyes hold up!! (Hubby and I are mostly housebound now too...public events are just too difficult to manage.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,
Thank you for sharing that you have T1D. Our granddaughter (six at the time) was diagnosed last year with it and I understand the "silence" of the disease - the fact that most people don't have any idea what is involved in the management of it. It is with you 24/7 both physically and mentally. I admire you for selecting "Celebrate" as your word for the year. You encourage me to focus on that, too. May the Lord bless you and bring others to you who are blessings.

Terri said...

This is a wonderful post and I feel really blessed by it. I think we should all try to celebrate more. Thank you for sharing. said...

"He was telling me to stop concentrating on what I could not do but celebrate what I could."
That quote you wrote reminded me of a place we used to visit quite often that is now closed. It was the National Christmas Museum in Lancaster county, PA. I loved that place! They put up on their Facebook page this quote that I so enjoy and can use as my motto, when disappointment sets in about not going and doing things as regularly as we used to.... "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!" They have since sold all of the collections and may be set up at a different place, so that is maybe good news.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. Prayers for you and your family.

Keri said...

I love your word of the year and your intention to continue approaching life with the word in mind, especially focusing on prayers answered as opposed to those still unanswered. I'm sure you'll be blessed by that practice, and it's certainly one I could stand to adopt myself! A couple of years ago I learned that as humans, we have a natural negativity bias, and the researcher described us as being made of Teflon when it comes to positives -- they can just "slide right off" -- but made of Velcro when it comes to negatives -- they tend to stick and stick and stick... I didn't really need a scientist to tell me that people are like that, but it did help me to realize that it's something that we're naturally inclined towards, and not just a personal flaw in myself.

Sometimes when I can't sleep at night, and my mind tends to wander towards the negative, I force myself to start listing all of the blessings I'm enjoying in THAT VERY MOMENT. From the warm blanket that's covering me, to the full belly from dinner, to the children sleeping safely down the hall...I've found that once I get started, I'm usually able to keep listing blessings until I fall asleep, which is a wonderful thing!