Why must we express our anger to God? (Book Review: A Sacred Sorrow)

“Lament” is an old fashioned word. I can often be more of a ‘let’s just move on’ sort of person myself. Yet the Bible teaches that there’s something sacred about our sorrow.

I’ve recently finished A Sacred Sorrow: reaching out to God in the lost language of Lament. This book by Michael Card was given to me by a friend after my mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

I must admit I thought I knew quite a bit about turning to God in the midst of sorrow, but this book helped clarify and stretch my understanding.

Most of all, it helped me understand why it’s important to cry out to God – even when I’d prefer just to ‘move on’.

If you want to an overview of the book, read on. If you want to skip to my assessment, scroll down!

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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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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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I am thankful (sorry it’s cliche!)

Thankful.

I am not going to say that I am thankful for my mum’s diagnosis. I’m not at that stage yet, and I’m not sure if I ever genuinely will be. Yet these past two weeks have left me with much to be thankful for.

So much more than I expected.

Yet I hesitate to share this reality, because it sounds too saccharine.

‘Practising gratitude’ has become a stock ‘self-care’ practice over the last few years and so I am scared of being ‘cliché’.

Not because clichés are wrong or embarrassing (we can’t all be hipsters and there’s really nothing new under the sun!) but because I don’t want my thankfulness to be seen as something artificial.

I am not thankful because I ‘ought’ to be, or because I ‘have’ to be, or because the Bible says I should be. I am thankful because I genuinely have a lot to be thankful for.

Last but not least, I can be thankful because I hold onto a Hope which exists in the aftermath. In the face of suffering and cancer leading to death forever, I would find it hard to be thankful for these things. Yet because I know these little bursts of light are only glimmers of what will come after death, I find I can be thankful.

And so I rejoice and I cry, and I do both at the same time and that does not reduce the potency of either.
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You cannot do it all (but what if you want to?)

When I think of ambition, I see someone fighting tooth and nail to get to the top of their career ladder
… and to be honest, that’s not me.

When I think of ambition, I imagine an athlete, struggling to stay ahead of their peers, striving for Olympic gold
… and to be honest, that’s not me.

 

When I think of ambition, I picture a work-a-holic father, shutting out his family and surviving on toast and beans in his desire for success
… and to be honest, that’s not me.

 

And yet, I’ve come to realise over the years that ambition can take different forms. Or perhaps what I am about to describe is not ambition exactly – and yet ambition is the best word I’ve found so far to describe it.

 

Ambition says, “I can do it all”.

What makes Ambition wrong?
What makes Ambition right?
Am I being called to give Ambition up? Am I okay with that?
 

And how can our ambition get in the way of our love for others and our calling to Watch?

Today this post is hosted over at my personal blog.
Read more about my thoughts and personal struggles with Ambition here. 
 

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I’m also on Facebook, Pinterest & Twitter! Meet me there for more interesting reads, resources and community.

 

LTCI 4: Why Illness is not everything

I recently went to a conference where I met a lot of new people.
Which (necessarily) led to lot of introductions – and because this was a writing conference, it also led to a lot of answering the question: what do you write?

Which in turn led to explaining about this blog, and after that, about my Loved Ones – namely, my mum and my sister. After the first five times I got my ‘blurb’ down pat:

“I write a blog about loving people with chronic illnesses, as my Mum has multiple diseases including pernicious anaemia and type 1 diabetes (with all its associated problems) and my sister had a brain tumour and now her body does not produce any hormones.”

It was a ‘neat’ answer, but after offering it a couple more times I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable. I found it difficult to repeat, to the point where I had to practically force myself to say it and felt like I was rushing to get it over and done with.
Why?

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LTCI 3: How to balance skepticism with love

Hello, my name’s Emily and I’m a Skeptic.
If this sounds like a therapy group meeting, you’ll soon understand why.
But first, take a moment. Could this ‘greeting’ be applied to you?

If you’ve spent any length of time wandering around the Interwebs (Hello, Pinterest!) you know that there is no end to the suggestions, prescriptions or affirmations for people with Chronic Illness.

And I have a big admission to make.

From someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness, I sometimes find these a bit odd.

3 postures to help with X disease.”
or
“The scent that will bring you peace even as you face X”
or even,
“Exercises you can do even if you have X”

At first I dismissed any such posts as ‘unnecessary’ – but now I try and approach them with humility. Why the change?

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LTCI #2: Am I my family’s keeper?

How’s your mum? How’s your sister?’

These are questions I get a lot. They’re great questions. They mean people are thinking about my sick family members, and it shows that the people around me understand that their illnesses are a rather large part of my life.

Most of the time I appreciate the time taken to ask a question like this, and the implied preparedness of the Asker to listen to a ‘deep’ response.

The other week though, I got asked this question twice, and each time it left me feeling guilty.

I bumped into my landlady as I was leaving my house, and she stopped me with a smile, and asked, ‘How is your mum going? And your sister’s health – how is it?’

I smiled in reply – and then froze.

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A letter to the parents who are chronically ill (You are not a failure)

“You are not your illness.”

Dear Parent with a chronic illness,

You don’t have to say it aloud. I’ve read it in your sighs, your looks, your actions.

The confession.

The apology.

My sickness has damaged the happiness of my child.

I, who brought them into the world, who had all these plans, these hopes – have been able to do one percent of all I dreamed.

I wasn’t the one to bake with them, to take them to the beach, to bushwalk, to laugh – someone else did these things, and sometimes, no one did them.
A

m I a failure?
Continue reading “A letter to the parents who are chronically ill (You are not a failure)”