Twenty-eighteen – your favourite posts

My hope is that so far 2019 has been full of Hope, anticipation and quiet assurance for you all! Since we’re still in the early days of the new year, what better time to do a little reflection?

For those of you who have so far found the New Year disappointing, may you find something to celebrate in saying goodbye to 2018.

It’s time for some stats! I thought I’d continue the tradition

Last year the introductory posts: But what is Watching? and the About Me tab were very popular. This year they have slid down the list… nice to know we’re all on the same page now 😉

This year also saw the first interviews of other Watchers, which were very exciting – thank you to Helen and Mary for being willing to share your stories!

Another exciting feature of this year was my partnership with Chronic Joy who do a wonderful job of exploring the intersection of Jesus and Chronic illness.

Anyway, without further ado –

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Celebrate Endings not Beginnings this New Year

Happy New Year!

It’s that time again.
The time when we celebrate new beginnings and new life.
Fresh starts and bright futures.

The New Year is a wonderfully invigorating time. It’s so empowering to be able to ‘reset’ your life, to hope anew, to re-make plans.

Yet as lovely as it is, sometimes we don’t have the emotional (or physical) energy to look forward. There are seasons where life has worn us down and we don’t dare envision a better year ahead.

In chronic illness, there is often no healing to look forward to. Only the hard reality that this is just going to get worse. Even in diseases which aren’t degenerative, times goes on, bodies get older, and circumstances get more difficult.

Perhaps this year you are in this camp. The ‘I find it hard to have hope’ camp. The ‘there are not going to be any brighter futures for me’ camp.

If this is the case, I’m not going to try and convince you that you’re wrong. That you should hardheadedly believe that ‘things WILL get better’.

Instead, I’m going to recommend that instead of celebrating Beginnings this New Year, you celebrate Endings.

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How to serve your local community when your family member is sick

What does it look like for us to love and serve other people besides our family member with a chronic illness? Is it possible? Is it necessary?

I’ve written previously about serving with a chronic illness, and serving overseas when someone you love has a chronic illness. But what about serving in your local church or community?

Should you serve your local community if your family member is sick?

If you are part of a local church or community, there are probably numerous opportunities to serve. Often during a Sunday morning worship service alone, you could potentially:

Play a musical instrument

Sing

Do a reading or announcement

Usher people in

Open up/lock up the building

Help in baby sit

Teach in Sunday school

Make coffee/tea

Clean up the kitchen/building

… and that’s all within the space of about two hours! Throughout the week there are often many other situations in which you can fulfil the Biblical commandment to serve and love one another.

Yet it’s not that easy, is it? Those of us who have a family member with a chronic illness can find all the opportunities to serve somewhat daunting. There is so much need… and yet perhaps we find ourselves ill-suited to fill it.

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Loving a sick person is too hard! (Watchers, we are not impartial observers)

I’ve been absent lately.

I’ve discovered that it’s quite difficult to type with a broken wrist!

I’m also settling in to what it looks like to be at home, loving someone going through chemotherapy.

It’s not easy. Patience and domestic duties have never been my strong points. Far from it actually. Some days I want to give it all up and become an “impartial observer”. It hurts much less when you fail and takes far less effort!

Nevertheless, God has called me to be a Watcher right now, so I pray and know He will equip me in all the ways necessary (and probably in a lot I’d like to pretend aren’t necessarily, like the ability to  ‘see’ what needs  to be done around the house or remember to pick up my own clothes from the floor).

ALSO an exciting piece of news: This is the 100th post on Called to Watch! Is there someone you know who might find this blog helpful? Take a moment to send them the link, or sign up for email updates!

Being a Watcher is hard, and instead of ‘really’ caring, it’s tempting to disengage emotionally. When this happens, we become “impartial observers”.

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I have a chronic illness: Is God calling me to sacrifice my health?

Dear Emily,

I have a chronic illness, and I’ve recently been challenged about what it looks like for me to serve, specifically in mission (whether domestic or overseas).

Today’s post is my thoughts in regards to a series of questions I was asked by Wendy.

Q1. Why does it seem noble to sacrifice personal comfort to serve God in a third world country, but not to sacrifice your energy (as someone who has chronic fatigue) to serve in my own country?

Firstly, I think you’re right when you say there’s a difference between giving up your health security in a general sense (moving to a 3rd world country) and specifically sacrificing it, knowing exactly what the consequences will be.

Both scenarios involve potential daily suffering, but they are different, and I think it’s very important to acknowledge that at the very beginning.

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Can I be a missionary if my family member is sick?

You have a family member who is sick. It’s a chronic illness, but you feel called to be a missionary overseas.

Such a calling is a blessing, but it raises a problem.

I’ve been gone a while, and in the next few months I would love to do a few blog posts on what my life looks like after my mum’s diagnosis, and what God’s teaching me. For now though:

Is it right to leave your chronically ill family member behind?

Or are you bound to your home country to serve them as long as they live?

These are hard questions.  There are 4 areas we need to examine before we can make a decision:

1. Examine your ‘calling’ to be a missionary

Why do you want to go? It’s easy to be filled with a desire and hide behind the phrase ‘God is calling me’ – but are you sure He is?

Excitement?

Do you want to go overseas because it sounds more exciting than caring for your Loved One? Perhaps it seems like an escape or even a retreat!

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Distraction – a good response to suffering?

Sometimes we simply want an escape from reality… but can distraction really be a good and valid response to suffering? I want to say… yes.

How I distract myself when tragedy strikes:

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself turning more and more to ‘distraction’. That’s why you haven’t heard much from me! By that I mean, I’ve re-ignited my passion for writing essays, for reading fiction and fan-fiction, and drawing.
In the past month or two I’ve…

Published:

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Is it really better to give than to receive?

“It is better to give than to receive.”

This is an oft-quoted-out-of-context verse, but raises an important question: What if you can’t give? Is receiving only second best?

What if you feel like you do all the receiving and none of the giving?
Not all of us are positioned to ‘give’ at all times, in all places. Or sometimes when we do give, our gifts end up being more a hindrance rather than a blessing.

What then?
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Broken dreams due to chronic illness are important

Have your dreams ever been broken? Have you ever wept because something you hoped for will never be?
A ‘broken dream’ sounds like something from a fairy-tale or a Shakespearean sonnet, something which doesn’t quite happen in the 21st century.
Are you brave enough to admit to having broken dreams?

We all have dreams

Who lives entirely in the present? Very few of us! Even if we don’t label them as such, I think we’ve all had dreams, hopes or idealisations of the future.

For some of us, these dreams will involve loving spouses and healthy children.

For others it might look like a peaceful retirement, a satisfying vocation or simply, security.

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Help! My sick friend is not very sick…

Our Loved One is too healthy.
On the surface this doesn’t really seem like an issue, does it? More like an answer to prayer!
And yet, I’d like to propose it can be a problem too.

As we Watchers know, chronic illness is unremitting, that’s the nature of it. But the reality is, chronic illness, like everything has it’s ups and downs. Some days are better than others, some weeks are worse. Sometimes we can joke and other times all we can do is cry.

This ebb and flow is good. It helps us survive. It brings us hope, it gives us relief. But it can also be a hard reality to communicate.

‘How is your Loved One?’ Someone asks.
‘Not well,’ you say.
‘Oh, but I saw them at the grocery shop the other day, they looked so good!’

This, my friends, is why it can be just as hard when our loved one is well as when they are not.
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