5 Ways to Pray for Your Chronically Ill Friend

5 Ways to Pray for Your Chronically Ill Friend

Hello there! If you’ve come here to learn how to pray for your chronically ill friend, I’m really excited that you’re taking this step to be a source of support for them. Here’s a short guide to praying for them. (This guide used to be available by download only, but it’s now in blog post form as well. Here’s the free PDF if you’d like to download it.)

Thank you so much for loving your friend well. They need you!

1) Pray for Physical Healing

Psalm 103:2-3 says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. (NIV)

Let’s remember that the Lord can and does provide physical healing. Pray that the treatment your friend is undergoing would work and that doctors would have wisdom for how to treat. Don’t be afraid to pray that God would intervene and provide healing and relief from the physical pain and other symptoms. Ask God to supernaturally work and take away the physical burdens of the illness.

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When You’re Not Okay…

When You're Not Okay

I am convinced that we as a society put too much pressure on ourselves and each other. There are unspoken rules surrounding expectations, with hidden pressures waiting to pounce as soon as your guard is lowered. Sometimes those expectations come from others, but more often I have found that the expectations I place on myself are the ones leaving me discouraged.

I want to have it all together. I want to do well at work and have meaningful relationships with friends and family. Being active in church, exercising, eating well and sleeping enough are also high on my priority list. I want to have a daily quiet time with God, where I get to meet Him and pour out my heart, while listening for His voice. Sometime, I want to get better at this writing thing and actually blog regularly. There’s also a book I’ve been writing, but haven’t made progress in weeks, maybe months.

Striving is where you often find me. Pushing. Tackling. Aiming. Working. Wanting. and. Struggling. With the strive is the struggle. And, honestly, I hate it.

I can’t stand the way I constantly try to fix things – to fix myself. To fix the people I love because I think I’ll be happier that way. It’s pretty selfish, I know.

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The Real Value of Roses

Birthday Roses

Prior to dating Jonathan, I was on the fence about whether flowers (especially roses) were worth the expense. The gesture is nice, I thought, but I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to spend that kind of money on something that will just die. I thought I would rather create experiences together or buy something that would serve as a relationship keepsake.

However, I have since changed my tune. I never vocally expressed my feelings about flowers to Jonathan; and, now I’m glad I didn’t! I really really REALLY appreciate flowers. They do something lovely to boost my mood!

Isn’t it amazing how God created things like flowers specifically for beauty? He created them for us to enjoy and I want to appreciate them.

Jonathan brought me these beautiful red roses yesterday before our birthday date. You see, my birthday is January 27 and his is January 30. Our birthdays lie right in heat of show choir season (he is the director of the high school varsity group), so having the opportunity to get away just the two of us for a date during this time of year is pretty special.

Today, while Jonathan is off judging a show choir competition, I had a work meeting before I came home to rest. I have been fighting off a cold that seems to be winning, so it left me feeling awful today. While spending the afternoon and evening resting, I got to enjoy the roses that now grace my dining room table. I can see them from where I am currently sitting as I lounge on the couch writing this blog post.

The roses don’t just make me happy because they are pretty, which they sure are! They serve as a reminder of Jonathan’s love for me. I can’t help but grin as I glance at the roses because I know that Jonathan gave them to me because he loves me.

I have to admit that I have a hard time with the schedules we keep. Our relationship has not been easy. Finding time to grow together so that we have a foundation for the future has been complicated. When Jonathan isn’t around, I miss him.

Having the roses here today to remind me just how much he loves me made all the difference. The value of roses is much greater than the sticker price. They serve as a crucial reminder that I am loved.

Soaking in God’s Word

Soak in God's word

I have a habit that drives my sister Maggie completely bonkers. She gets agitated with me, making this habit a source of material for her complaining.

When I do dishes, I like to let them soak.

I’d say my method of washing dishes is ideal. You set them in the sink and run water over them while you squirt a little dish soap. Then, if you are stacking more on top of them they all have a little water in between each dish.

It’s great, especially for thick pasta dishes where rinsing just doesn’t do the trick for getting that melted cheese off the plate.  When it comes to pasta, concentrated scrubbing is required; or in my case, concentrated soaking. I prefer to let them soak.

My sister’s disdain for my soaking methods may have made me question my tactics a time or two. However, I always go back to the tried and true method because it works! I would prefer to let my dishes soak for even a handful of minutes than to tirelessly scrub when soaking gets the job done with half the effort. Plus, it gives me a few minutes to do other household chores while the dishes soak before returning to the sink to easily wash and rinse them.

The soaking of dishes got me thinking about other forms of soaking in my life.

Sometimes performing tasks slowly allows for us to truly do things to our best ability. The soaking of sorts that occurs when something is done without rush can be beautiful. For me, it helps me think through situations and process them before making rash decisions that could potentially lead me down the wrong path.

I like to soak in God’s Word.

While I sometimes read quickly to get through specific passages that we’re reviewing in Bible study, I don’t think think reading through the Bible in a rushed state is doing me any favors. It is not helping me fully grasp the richness of God’s Word.

Reading the Bible is essential for believers to be equipped for all God has planned for them.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

For me to truly appreciate the truth of God’s Word, I have to let it marinate for a little bit. That involves soaking.

That’s something incredible that happens when our hearts are turned toward God and there’s two way communication happening. The spirit moves and we are in real fellowship with our Creator.

While I do find value in any form of studying God’s Word, I know that the to-do list approach to study doesn’t work for me. I just don’t get as much out of it when it’s only something to check off my list. I’m not saying that if you only have five minutes to read in the morning it can’t be beneficial. I just know that for me, personally, setting aside more concentrated time for soaking in the Word is beneficial.

I don’t know where you’re at, but if you’re like me, you probably feel like you never stop moving. From work, to family, to friendships and relationships, to church, to household tasks, to finding time to exercise, life is just plain full. There’s so much we must do (or feel obligated to do).

Even in the midst of chaos, I still know what I need to feel secure and refreshed. I know what helps me feel rested and what makes me feel better, but often those very things that I know help are the last thing on my to do list because I have a hard time saying no. I have a hard time creating margin in my life. I know I need to pull back, stop the rushing, stop filling the calendar and just be.

Right now, as we are wrapping up January and embracing all that this new year is providing, I want to soak. My desire is to seek God and soak in His Word and His promises.

I am a goal setter and I have resolutions and goals and big dreams, and I can’t wait to write more and share them with you on this blog. But, for now, I am going to pray, trust God, read His word, and let it all soak in to break down the pieces of sin and discontentment that are stuck on me – just as soaking in soap and water does for dishes in the sink.

Here’s to soaking in 2016!

The Gift of Time Spent in China

Making dumplings in ChinaIt’s hard to have lived a life no one else understands. Even if it was only a piece of a life, it still matters. It has molded me and shaped me, creating the person I am today.

My experience living in China mattered. While I did not grow up there or spend a decade living there as my dear friend Rosie did, the year and half I spent in the Middle Kingdom influenced me.

It wasn’t just that I got to see first-hand how another culture operates. It wasn’t just that I tried new foods and actually liked them. It wasn’t just that I made friends that I now miss. There’s something more…

I have difficultly pinpointing exactly how I was changed, but I was…

In China, it was normal for me to carry toilet paper in my purse. I drank hot water. I used phrase such as, “take a rest.” I was called “teacher” as a sign of respect. My white skin was considered beautiful. Crowded buses were the norm. Being pushed and shoved in line at the supermarket was to be expected. We called the school cafeteria the “canteen.”

I ate more dumplings than I can count, slurped noodles like the best of them, and danced outside in the square on cool weekend nights. Most importantly, I truly loved people like I was never going to leave.

I realized early on that in order for me to make the most of the experience, I had to say “yes” a lot. I had to accept invitations while fighting the urge to retreat to my apartment with a book and a blanket. Experiencing the fullness of what God had for me in China meant being bold enough to try new things and be willing to look silly.

China helped me come alive in a way I desperately needed.

I needed to step away from expectations of both others and myself. I could be me.

The Gift of Time Spent in China

Amidst the chaos that comes with a country of 1.4 billion people, I learned a lot about patience. I started to see greater value in diversity, recognizing that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. God showed me unconditional love.

I bring up China tonight as I write this post because I just got off WeChat (essentially, the Chinese version of Facebook) and was reminiscing. When I get excited about China and think back on my experiences there, I realize how few people in my life can relate. Even those who do relate had different experiences than I.

Sometimes when I look back, it feels like a dream. Was that really my life for two different seasons? It was. And I loved it.

Do I miss China? Absolutely.

Even though I miss the overall experience and the individual people and places, I also see that time as a beautiful gift. God gave me the opportunity to step away from the status quo of American life and see the world from a different vantage point. In that time He ignited in me a greater love for Him, His word and His people.

I am forever grateful.

A Year of Extravagant Love

I want to write. I think about writing. I fill up pages in my journal and make notes in Evernote about the longings of my heart, but somehow putting it out here on the blog seems to be too much. In part, it’s because I am still processing. I also think I am afraid to be vulnerable.

So, I’m going to start telling you a little bit about my past year. 2014 was “The Year of Extravagant Love” – I knew from the start of the year that God was going to be doing something more in my heart. He is always working, but last year it was different. At the end of 2013, I prayed hard about the next year. I wanted direction from God, not just from my own ambitious self. In my quiet times, God kept showing me that 2014 was to be about love – about His love and they way it pours through our lives.

My year started out with my saying “no” to expectations of others and “yes” to God as I moved back to China to teach for what I thought would be a year. I struggled with the decision to go back to China because my heart was being drawn toward a man I would later find myself in love with.

I stood at a crossroads at the beginning of 2014.

To go to China where I knew God was calling me?

Or, stay in Iowa where Jonathan, the man I was beginning to fall for, remained?

The “Sunday School answer” was obviously to go to China. How could I not go where God was calling me?

What made things even trickier was that I didn’t think my feelings for Jonathan were just my own. I believe God put those feelings on me, truly giving me the desires of my heart. I had prayed about Jonathan for a few months (and I later found out he had been praying about me), receiving what I felt was confirmation that he was for me.

But, why would God send me halfway around the world if Jonathan and I were supposed to be together?

God, in His abounding love, has ways that we can never fully understand. Looking back I can see some of why He did what He did, but even so, parts of it remain a mystery.

Saying “yes” to God means trusting that He loves us and that He is working for our good (Romans 8:28).

In some ways it would have been easier to stay in Iowa to “see what happened” with the potential relationship, but I knew God wanted me to trust Him.

So, I obeyed.

In that act of obedience, I learned a lot about love – true, pure love that can only come from God. I learned that above all else, God desires our hearts. If I was going to love the way God purposed for my life, I had to give up control and let Him work it all out.

When the time came that Jonathan pursued me and we were able to be together sooner than we had expected (after another cool twist of events), I could only give God the glory because it was His timing and plan.

While the circumstances surrounding our relationship have pointed me back to God and His love, I also learned more about God’s love for humanity in 2014.

My heart keeps shifting to see people the way Jesus does. In the choices I make and in the things I do, I want to be better about letting Christ be shown through me. I’ve been challenged to love greater in all areas of life.

I could tell story after story of how God showed me His love in China, but for now, I’ll leave you with something I found to be pretty neat.

When I left China in July, I said goodbye to a fellowship of believers I truly loved. The simplicity in the way they talked of their faith inspired me. There was a language barrier to overcome, but in the end, at the heart of it, they loved Jesus and wanted to make Him known. I felt the same way.

On my last day in the city, we met for our last small group of the semester while tears streamed down our faces as we bid farewell. A little bit later, one of the group leaders came to my apartment with a gift. He and the group had come together to give me something to take back to America as a remembrance of them.

This friend – let’s call him Wang – opened a box holding a glass trophy, much like something a person would be given as an award. Etched on the glass was a verse in Chinese. I wasn’t familiar with the characters of the reference, so Wang quickly opened his Bible to show me the verse.

God is Love

As he turned to 1 Corinthians 13, my eyes began to water. The love chapter. In this year of “Extravagant Love.” Wow. God is good, I thought to myself as I rested in that sweet moment.

This is significant because when I had prayed about 2014, God specifically laid 1 Corinthians 13 on my heart.

On the trophy was 1 Corinthians 13:13, which reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

God, through my Chinese friends, reminded me of His faithfulness in a beautiful way.

My life was changed little by little in 2014, but it all started in the heart. It started by submitting and trusting that God is who He says He is and that His love never fails.