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I have been reading a passage from the gospels each day for Lent, this year, and for the last several days, have been reading whatever passage is recommended on the Forward Movement website.
Today's passage was one I hadn't read in a while, and reading it today reminded me of something that surprised me. Read on, and then tell me what you think...
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" - John 5:6
Though we don't know this man's story, the idea that he had not been well for a long time reminds me of what it's like to have a chronic illness. I haven't been well for a long time, either.
Jesus heals him, but first He asks him if he wants to be made well.
To me, it seems like a strange question. Who wouldn't rather be well, if they had the choice?
And though I am no Biblical expert, I believe that this is not a straightforward question from Jesus. I think He often says things that don't mean exactly what they say, without context, or an implied deeper meaning.
Maybe He is implying some kind of secondary gain - a benefit the sick person receives because of being sick (for example, sick leave, or attention they wouldn't normally get from their loved ones) - that He thinks this man wouldn't want to lose.
Experts warn against making people responsible for being sick or in pain and suggest that we might use this idea of secondary gain way too much. But does it ever happen? I imagine so.
I am not sure it would influence someone to refuse healing, though. I would say yes in a heartbeat (this is not news to God).
The truth is, I don't think we can know exactly why Jesus asked him that question. But read on and I'll tell you what I think was happening in this encounter.
In any case, he was healed!
What would you say if offered healing? Think about the struggles you have had for a long time. Are you ready and willing to let go of them?
What about the Others Who Were There?
I also noticed that the story suggests that Jesus only healed one person during that time. It's possible that others were healed, but there stories were not used as examples in this passage.
Or, it may be that only he was healed. Why are some people healed and not others?
Though that is another question I don't know the answer to, and I believe we can't know with any certainty, I do believe we can trust God.
Last year, my mother died of cancer (that's a black-and-white picture of her in the picture above).
As a healer, I prayed for her to be healed and tried to help her heal in every way I knew how. I was angry when she died. Crushed.
But ultimately, I was able to let go of my "if onlys" and my re-telling of her story in ways that ended with her still alive. Even though I don't know why it happened.
I have had a chronic illness for 25 years. I would love to be free of it, and I don't know why I haven't yet been healed of it.
But in spite of my regret that it hasn't yet happened, I have decided not to believe that it makes a statement about who or how God is.
If God is good, all the time, then my mother's death and my own autoimmune disorder have to go somewhere else. They can't be answers to, "is God good?" Even if I have no idea where to put them.
I am willing not to know the answer. Even when I am angry or sad or worried.
If you have a chronic illness, or you've lost someone who did not get healed, how have you grappled with it? If Jesus only healed one of the many people who needed healing that day, what do you make of it?
And have you had a conversation with God about your own willingness to be healed?
What, Jesus? Say What, Now?
"See you have been made well. Do not sin any more, so that nothing worse happens to you." - John 5
Before we even get to the idea that any person not part of the trinity is capable of never sinning again, let's think about the implication: maybe he was so sick because of sin. What???
But I have to tell you, I have heard it before. I used to go to a church years ago that seemed to imply all the time that it was our responsibility - now that we were Christians - to become perfect.
And if we were ill, or struggling with money, or other issues, there must be sin in our lives.
For a while, that was a perfect fit for me. I already felt embarrassed about being sick. Sometimes, ashamed, for no reasons that I could identify. Did it embarrass my mother and I learned it from her?
I don't know, but the idea that my illness was somehow my fault found a perfect match in this church's ideology.
I eventually left that church and I no longer believe that illness is a physical manifestation of sin. If it were, then why isn't there a one-to-one correspondence happening all around the world?
And why weren't people sick one day, then forgiven and thus, healed, the next? No moments without sin? Okay, but that could describe lots of people, I am sure. Why are some of them completely healthy?
So it doesn't work as a philosophy or belief. Which makes me wonder why Jesus said it.
Here's what I suspect: I believe that when He had that conversation with the man He healed, it was personal to his situation. If He didn't somehow know him, in advance, He knew of him, or had heard about his situation.
And I think He expected him to know exactly what He meant.
Let me give you an example from my own life. If God healed me, I think He would say something like, "don't forget what you've learned about rest, and pushing yourself so hard in the pursuit of perfection. I know you may go a little wild for a bit, doing all the things you haven't been able to do. But when you settle down, remember."
And I would know exactly what He meant, because I have been hearing similar messages and learning that lesson for decades. Maybe I should say not learning and then, finally, beginning to learn, but you get the idea.
Someone else who heard it, would not be meant to apply that to herself and her own struggle with chronic illness, because He'd have something entirely different to say to her.
But even if I am wrong about that, and there is some other explanation I don't know yet, I do not think that He was trying to teach us that when we're sick, it is because we have sinned. I am convinced that's not it, even if I don't know yet, what is.
And as I mentioned above, I am willing not to know yet.
What about you? Have you heard the idea that illness is our fault? That there must be sin in our lives if we are sick?
What do you think about that idea? If you disagree, how do you explain what Jesus said?
Thanks for reading! See you next time.
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See you next time!
During Lent, Jesus took 40 days to consecrate himself to his purpose. Those who look at him through a biblical lens know that in the biblical story, that purpose included death on the cross and then, resurrection after three days. These days, many people use Lent for self-reflection, personal growth and spiritual growth. But a larger purpose may be getting closer to God or the divine. Hiding under his wings (I think that's the wording?). This year, beginning on March 6th, I encourage you, no matter what your faith, to create contemplative moments of retreat for yourself during the 40 days of Lent.
Create a Contemplative Lenten Practice
Instead of just reading a great book this year, grab your journal and a cup of tea each time, so you can really dive in.
Think about what the passage means to you. Imagine it happening, and even if you don't believe it happened literally, take in its truth, anyway.
Write down any insights or questions that come to mind, offering yourself up for a deeper understanding.
Reading Challenge: What I'll Be Reading
What will you be reading during this Lenten season?
See you next time!
What matters most is what matters most to you.
The truth is that no one can tell you exactly when to get up in the morning. Or what kind of morning routine is the best one. It has to start with you.
What is most important to you. We start there, with making sure there is time for whatever that is. And we work backwards from there to how to spend the rest of your time.
What would that be for you?
For me, it's spending time with my son, and having time to myself, so that I can push away my worries by having a quiet time, drinking a cup of tea, reading, and/or watching TV. I also care about helping our days go smoothly enough that my son has time for the things that matter to him, and that we get homeschooling done in a way that doesn't feel rushed. Learning in a hurry just doesn't work.
And the whole reason to worry about things like better productivity or time management is those things that matter. Otherwise, why bother?
Sometimes, I feel frustrated with people who seem to be suggesting that the most important reason is to feel proud of yourself. There are many more important reasons than that. Connecting with those deeper reasons makes it much easier to make the changes that we need to make.
I want you to feel and to be in control of your time. Empowered to choose the way you spend it and happy about the time that creates.
Not that you won’t ever have bad days, or have something unpredictable happen.
But most of the time? You’re spending your days as you choose to spend them: on purpose.
When you live on purpose, your life will change.
And here's a way you can prepare yourself for on-purpose living - more easily, and free of charge! - with the Make More Margin eBook.
It's filled with wisdom and tips for doing more with the time you have, and for finding more time for what matters most. To access and download it, click the graphic below...
I have homeschooled my son since preschool. But it was hit or miss until I found the system I would use from first grade through high school (Waldorf). I loved it so much, we did first grade again, using a Waldorf curriculum, during the summer before our next homeschooling year began.
Even all these years later, I am so grateful for homeschooling and its impact on our family. But it hasn’t always been perfect.
I was completely unprepared for moments of boredom, for times when we got to the end of the year and weren’t quite done and had to hurry to get to playing the Sesame Street version of “School’s Out for Summer.” But what I was most surprised by was how much energy it took and how hard it made to get things done.
Because I have chronic fatigue syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can leave me flattened without warning, and too sick to get the things done on my to-do list, I learned that I had to plan carefully for each homeschooling day. Sometimes, homeschooling was going to be the only big thing we accomplished.
Here are some of the things I learned to do, to deal with the energy homeschooling required…
Homeschooling: How I Fixed What Went Wrong
(1) As often as possible, we shopped for groceries on the weekends. And I planned meals that were as simple and easy as I could make them during the week, saving anything special I wanted to make for the weekend.
(2) We often homeschooled in our pajamas. If we knew we weren’t going anywhere that day, we kept our slippers on and I didn’t bother with hair and makeup.
(3) As a mom who worked from home, I sometimes squeezed in a little work before the homeschool day began. If I needed to write a blog post, we might start a half hour to an hour later than usual, and then I’d know it was done and not have it hanging over my head, demanding time I didn’t have, while we were homeschooling.
(4) If we were getting together with others for a homeschool gathering, we shortened our own day and did our part first. I wanted the rest of those days to be free, once we got back home.
But it took having several times where we had homeschool work waiting on us once we got back to realize that that was not the best way for us to do it. One example was ballroom dancing.
It was so much fun to get together with other homeschoolers once a week for a class my son loved. But it wore me out to go and come back, so I learned to plan light on those days, and do any homeschool lessons we needed to do that day before we left for the class.
(5) Waldorf homeschooling always began with something called circle time. And it was easy to pair that with a sort of family quiet time. But I learned that I would need to have my own before the day began, and before my son got up for the day, because after doing circle time, I often didn’t get around to anything else spiritual for the rest of the day.
Time wise, if I wanted to have my own quiet time, I realized it had to happen first thing.
If you’re a homeschool mom like me, I’d love to know in the comments if there were things you felt unprepared for as your homeschooling journey began. How did you resolve them?
If you still struggle with your homeschooling routine, with finding enough time for everything that needs to be done, or with mom time in general, there is a free eBook that may help. Click the link below to find out more...
See you next time!
Being a mom is hard. With all the meal prep, laundry, homework, cuddles, and after-school activities (here’s to the future Karen Kains and Michael Jordans out there), any mom knows there are days when ‘dressing to impress’ simply becomes ‘dressing.’ Period. [But] even though things move at the speed of lightning, personal style shouldn’t be abandoned. -FashionMagazine.com
I remember the days when my son was little. If a top didn't have spit on it, and I could still get into it, I was good to go. I stopped caring, for a while, about whether I looked good or not and taking care of my son was my only priority.
True story: it was my mom who both urged me to go to the hairdresser and made the appointment for me, when she saw that I was not responding to her offer with anything like excitement.
And even as motherhood became a little less overwhelming for me, I was much more concerned about whether or not something was comfortable than whether or not it was fashionable. I had lost all sense of what my style even was.
Starting Over with Style
I think it's normal and common to get to the point where the dust clears and it feels like you're at the starting point again with style. So I suggest not diving into the deep end. Start slowly.
Consider finding a uniform of sorts, one that you know flatters you. It could be an outfit that starts with jeans and a top. But if the colors are right, and the shoes work and you add the earrings or a scarf, suddenly, you've got a look.
And then, you take your look-that-works & begin to build a small capsule wardrobe.
Capsule Wardrobe Tips
(1) Keep it Small - until you know it works well for you, start small, with maybe two tops, one pair of jeans & one pair of pants.
(2) Focus on Color - choose colors that not only go well together, but are flattering on you. And again, I'd start small, with maybe one main color and an accent. You might buy a pair of earrings that match your main color & stop there until you feel more certain of this capsule.
(3) Easy Access - place them all near each other in your closet, and for now, move everything else out of the way. Getting dressed in the morning will become much easier, if you can grab it and go.
If you’re a Christian mom, you may often feel that there’s not enough time to do everything you see on your to-do list. But added to that is finding time for your relationship with God and for nurturing your family’s growing connection to God.
And if you’re like me, stressing out about the time can make those hurried moments even more unpleasant than they would be otherwise. I finally decided that I was going to have to slow down before I alienated myself and anyone else in my orbit during the rush hours.
Here’s what I did…
Quiet Times: I Kept Missing Them
Quiet times were always hit or miss for me. By which I mean, I usually missed them, because I told myself I’d get to them whenever there was time. And as a single mother with a spirited son, that elusive time didn’t show up for me.
When I was able to have a quiet time, I was always so excited it was happening. But I was often too tired by the time I got around to it to do it justice, and I was often preoccupied by whatever still had to be done that day.
It occurred to me that that feeling of disconnection I sometimes felt was because I was neglecting my most important relationship. I couldn’t just leave it to chance.
I decided to have quiet times as the first part of my day, even though my chronic illness made it so hard to get going in the morning, I often waited until my son was awake, and even then, longed for another hour of sleep.
But in spite of my morning struggle, I started getting up earlier than my son so I could have a quiet time that was truly quiet. And I did it first, before it got crowded out by all the things and ended up not happening at all.
I got up early enough that there was plenty of time to spend with God. So that I could linger over a song or prayer or passage, or journal my heart out, without worrying about anything else I had to do.
But that was not a perfect solution. Because I am not a morning person.
So, I also had to add in waking-up time. The “try to come to life” time that Dolly Parton sings about in Nine to Five.
And I gave myself permission to do quiet time imperfectly, promising myself I’d create other quiet moments during the day if I needed them.
One-minute prayers in the bathroom. A moment with the Bible while dinner was cooking. And sometimes, whole pages of an inspiring book I was trying to read while my son watched something on TV.
Doing it that way gets me a quiet time, and often two, or more, every day, without pressure and without rushing.
I taught my son to do the same thing. For a long time, when he first woke up, and before I knew he was awake, he read a devotional book for kids that I had given him. He’s older now, and chooses his own times to connect, but for years, slowing life down, especially those first hours of the day, worked for both of us.
Late to Church & Cranky about It
Church was a difficult challenge, however. I hated being late.
Being late meant finding a parking spot far from the door & walking long enough to make us even later. It meant having much less choice about where to sit and sometimes being down the aisle far enough that I wouldn’t see my son as easily when he was on stage to sing or perform during the service.
But the worst part was that rushed feeling during the journey, and not being able to make the car get there faster.
And it was morning, so I wasn’t having the time of my life to begin with, and on top of that was this lateness.
I haven’t ever been able to become a morning person, but every positive time maneuver has led to liking mornings a little more. What I did about getting to church late was not easy, but it was simple. I started getting up quite a bit earlier!
Early enough to get to church during easy-parking-spot times. With a wide range of seating choices, so I could be near or on the aisle to see my beloved’s sweet face when he sang with such earnestness that it inevitably brought tears to my eyes.
And sometimes, we were even able to get there in time for Sunday school. Eventually, I started getting there in time to teach a Sunday school class.
Yep, it surprised me, too.
But what helped was counting backward from the time I wanted to arrive, and figuring out, realistically, how much time it would take to get ready. Then I would plan to get up at least an hour before that, sure I would end up needing more time than I thought.
I was always right about that.
Do you struggle with time? And when you do, does time win?
Here is a resource that may help…
A free eBook called Make More Margin that is filled with tips about managing time so that you get more of it, get done what you need to, bring peace to your routines and find more time for the things that matter most. I found ideas in this eBook that made a difference for me immediately.
It helped me think through the idea that we are called to find ways to master time. And it motivated me to change my thinking from “there’s not enough time for…” to “how can I create better routines?” and “how can I find more time for what matters?”
To download it, click on the graphic below...
See you next time!
I have been living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has gotten worse over time, for 25 years now. Having it changed everything. About who I am as a mom, how I was able to navigate through life, and even the way I saw myself as a person.
It took me a long time to give in and stop expecting way too much of myself. Has that ever been a challenge for you?
And do you, too, find it tricky to try to make plans when you can't know, in advance, how you're going to feel?
Below, are several tips from one sick and tired mom to another...
3 Tips to Keep in Mind
(1) "All Plans Are Soft Until Confirmed" - this is a quote from The American President. I think it fits for us, too.
Don't stop dreaming about how you want to spend your time. Yes, you have to keep your limitations in mind, but don't stop wishing for days that work out.
But on the other hand, let go of the outcome and teach those who love you to do the same. You may not be able to do what you've planned, and it will be much easier to accept it if everyone is clear on that in advance.
Make contingency plans, especially for your kids. As an example, I homeschool my son, but if I have a sick day, he does independent study, writes a summary of what he learns and shows it to me on our next homeshooling day.
(2) Schedule Lots of Blank Space - honor the spoons. if there's something that really needs to get done on a certain day, make that the only plan or outing. And clear the day beforehand and afterward, in case you need to rest.
If you find you don't need the extra time, many things will offer themselves to you to fill it. But it's important to have that safeguard in place, just in case.
(3) Let Others Help - do you ever worry about the impact of your illness on your family? I definitely have. What helps is letting friends and family step in when I need them to do so.
One summer, my son wanted to go to Vacation Bible School and I was too sick to take him each day. So a friend and a neighbor alternated picking him up and bringing him back.
Where could someone in your life offer that kind of help?
If you would like an entire ebook created just for us, there's a planner with our names on it. It's called the Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner & Journal, created by Tanya at Mom's Small Victories and it is part of the Ultimate Productivity Bundle I told you about in a previous post.
Click the link or the image above to get it and support your focus on managing your time and energy.
And to see what else is in the bundle, click here & head to bit.ly/finding-more-time.
See you next time!
I bet that if you ask any one of your mom friends what she wishes she could change about her life, and I’m guessing it would be some variation of this:
Feel less stressed!
And I can totally relate to that. In yesterday's post, I mentioned the ultimate productivity bundle, and today, I want to show you a bundle-within-the-bundle for moms who are stressed and overwhelmed by everything they've got going on. Like we are, sometimes, right?
Each of those resources will help lessen overwhelm.
And here are two more I want to share, starting with Lise Cartwright's 90-day eCourse...
The Personal Productivity Power Plan
In this eCourse, you will:
Normally, this eCourse sells for $197, but you can get the bundle for just $47!
But I also want to tell you about this work by design summit...
The Work by Design Summit
This summit has interviews with over 50 real-life productivity experts (like Jon Acuff, Tsh Oxenreider, Ruth Soukup, and more!) that you can watch over and over again. You’ll learn how your life’s purpose can make you more productive, how to live holistically within your life’s purpose, and that’s just the beginning. :)
I love life purpose information!
Now, together, these resources normally sell for $264, but you can get them both for $37.
The reason is they both are part of the Ultimate Productivity Bundle, a collection of 44 other eCourses, eBooks, printables, workbooks, plus this summit and course.
Click the image above to get them and all the other resources. It's on sale right now, so get it soon.
Wishing you life less stressed!
lifestyle blogger, hygge hermit, author, follower of Jesus, certified spiritual director, bookworm, INFP, Enneagram 9-7-4, tea drinker and homeschool mom. This blog's mission is making mom life easier.
This page has affiliate links, because I am an affiliate for several programs or products. But I only recommend what I believe in & am hoping will help. If you click on one of my affiliate links & then, make a purchase, I may make a commission, and my family thanks you.