The Weaver

 

My life is but a weaving, between my God and me,

I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily,

Oftentimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver’s hand,

As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

B.M. Franklin (1882-1965)

Found in Corrie ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord.

Thoughtful Thursday: I’m Not God

Today’s post is from a friend who has nailed it. For anyone dealing with the “stuff” of life that can clog up your heart or mind, this essay–along with good counseling/therapy and ideally a support group like Celebrate Recovery–can help you begin to clear out the muck and remember (or perhaps see for the first time) some timely truths.

http://beckismswithasideofbacon.blogspot.com/2016/06/im-not-god.html

 

 

Gettting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Chronic Pain edition

Today I thought I’d provide a personal update on how my Rule of Life formation is going in light of a flare-up of back pain. Thankfully, I’ve been free of chronic back pain for eight months since going on a new medication–which has provided the first remission since I was pregnant 18 years ago. However, 12 days ago it flared up and so I’ve been challenged to remember my coping skills. Thankfully it has not been 24/7 pain and so I’ve been able to follow the basics of my simple Rule much of the time but sometimes I’ve forgotten things due to the pain. Since the pain is not constant–which is different from my decades long struggle with chronic back pain–I’m not sure if I’m handling my pain meds the best way so I have finally promised myself to call the doctor’s office when they open today and schedule an appointment for some help with my medication strategy, etc. If things don’t improve, I’ll be needing a massage or two to get my pain levels down and although I enjoy them immensely they aren’t covered by insurance so in my present circumstances they are third line treatment, meds and lifestyle accommodations being the first and second.

Aside from not enjoying this return of something I had hoped might be gone forever, my son graduates from high school in one month and we’ll have grandparents here for five days and, as always, I need to step up my game regarding the level of my housekeeping. Aside from the normal challenges of ongoing decluttering, back pain doesn’t exactly make cleaning the most appealing task in the world. So, I’m having to dip into my old toolbox of tips for living with back pain and come up with some helpful reminders of things other than medication that will allow me to get housework done when my back is being cranky or even outright uncooperative.

My first and best tool is music therapy. I can either put my phone in my pocket and use earbuds or AirPlay the music off our TV (which has the added benefit of giving me access to my husband’s iTunes library; woo hoo!) as well as listen to favorite songs I don’t own via YouTube. This helps put some pep in my step and whether or not I’m capable of singing along while performing my household tasks it definitely makes them go by faster!

Another tool–one particularly helpful when the pain levels are higher and/or I’m just worn out from coping with the pain–is watching something on Netflix in spurts. Currently I’m gearing up for the final season of Person of Interest by going back through all the previous episodes. The way I use this tool is to watch for a set amount of time–e.g., 10 minutes–and then get up and work for a set amount of time–say another 10 minutes. This is really helpful to me as it gets my mind off the pain and I get more done than I usually would with just taking plain reading or music video breaks (although these are also good alternatives to TV). I’ve also found that if I’m rewatching something, as in my current POI situation, I can often just listen to the episode while working at mindless tasks–dishes, laundry, dusting, putting things back where they belong–and this strategy keeps me on my feet longer than I usually would be willing to try. I just have to be careful not to overdo how long I’m working when engaged in a particularly interesting storyline!

The last tool I’ll share today is aromatherapy. Using a wax melt burner continuously with whatever scent seems appropriate for my needs on any given day–or even during a certain segment of the day–has become a daily tool I use even when I don’t have back pain as it assists with improving my mood and energy, something I can always benefit from every day.

Additionally, from my work-in-progress Rule I use the Liturgy of the Hours Divine Office app’s audio option to pray when I’m feeling frazzled and need a boost and want to do something that will help me as well as fit in with my desire to live a more prayerful life. The daytime hours’ offices are often around 10 minutes and so this makes them very doable while I’m experiencing pain or brain fog or even just plain old fatigue.

I hope these ideas have helped. Perhaps you have some of your own that you’d like to share in the comments; I’d love to hear them and I’m sure they’d be welcome by this blog’s readers with chronic illness. Despite whatever physical and/or mental illness you’re struggling with today, I wish you a meaningful and productive day–whatever that may look like with your current limits. Enjoy!

Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Lupus edition

Today’s reblogged post is written by someone who knows the ropes when it comes to managing her lupus. Thanks to Sara Gorman’s innovative, comprehensive approach–detailed in her outstanding book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness (my all-time favorite book on living with chronic illness)–she has been able, over the years of learning to live with lupus, to write a book, blog (Despite Lupus), have two children, and start a home-based business related to her lifestyle (Sara Gorman’s Pillbags). Despite what you might think, she’s no superwoman but rather an extremely realistic person who has accepted her limits and learned how to manage her health so that it supports her life’s priorities, all one step at a time. I thought this post might appeal to my readers who are chronically ill and/or are writers who are chronically struggling with finding time to write.

http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/2016/04/finding-time-to-manage-lupus-just-put.html

More on a Rule of Life

Here is another helpful description of what a Rule is and isn’t:

A rule of life allows us to clarify our deepest values, our most important relationships, our most authentic hopes and dreams, our most meaningful work, our highest priorities. It allows us to live with intention and purpose in the present moment…creating a list of rules to follow is not the intention of a rule of life…

It is not something fixed and rigid, but something which can and should be adapted to our present circumstances and shaped to fit our current needs and desires…

Like any spiritual discipline, adopting a rule should help you to live more faithfully. It is a tool to aid you in living a rich and meaningful life. Designing a rule is not an end to itself, but rather a means to an end: namely, to live our lives for God with purpose and intention.

Br. David Vryhof, Living Intentionally: A Workbook for Creating a Personal Rule of Life, available as a free PDF download at:

http://ssje.org/5.pdf/cowleypdf/2011%20Summer%20Insert.pdf

 

What Exactly is a Rule of Life?

For starters, let me say that it’s not about a schedule; it’s about a flexible routine that enables you to create stability, both spiritually and personally in your vocation. Here are my favorite definitions. The best, in my opinion, is the first and shortest, as it captures the traditional essence of a Rule.

A Rule is most often a chosen daily pattern of life and is arranged so that there area particular moments in the day when certain things are done.

Corinne Ware, St. Benedict on the Freeway

The second is much more comprehensive and deals with the underlying motivation as well as reminding us the Rule’s focus is the essential responsibilities of one’s vocation in any particular season of life.

A Rule of Life is not just  a schedule, not just a collection of activities organized into a set pattern for repetition. A rule is an organization of everything that has to do with your vocation, based on a hierarchy of the priorities that define the vocation and done with the intent to please God. It deals with the essential responsibilities of your state of life, organized to ensure their fulfillment.

Holly Pierlot, A Mother’s Rule of Life

Hopefully these will have provided some clarity about what it is I and many others are doing when we say we are trying to live by a Rule. More

Living with a Rule of Life

Eleven years ago–in my continuing saga to learn to live in the present moment–I read and tried to implement a rule of life. Ultimately I was unsuccessful at sticking to one and became frustrated with my search for greater spiritual and personal stability. Over the years as I tried rebooting my attempts I used two very different resources on this subject;  unfortunately neither one provided me with the ability to create something that I could stick to for the long haul.

I’ve come to finally realize that it was probably not in any way due to the books being inadequate but rather a result of the combination of my ADHD and OCD tendencies, in addition to deep-seated perfectionism, and, probably most significantly, an extremely challenging season of life that included multiple chronic health issues that sabotaged my attempts. Now that my health is improving I am optimistically embarking on a reboot of a rule and have decided that it has a greater chance of sticking if I share it here and therefore insure some measure of accountability!

My primary resources for developing a rule are those two books that have helped me in one way or another over the past decade. While I don’t agree with everything the authors have written I’ve gleaned what makes sense to me and feel both books have more content that is worthwhile than not.

The first book I read was one devoted exclusively to the subject, Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life:

http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Rule-Life-Bring-Order-ebook/dp/B005D9IDZ2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459767168&sr=1-1

The second and ultimately most helpful was Jane Tomaine’s St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living:

http://www.amazon.com/St-Benedicts-Toolbox-Everyday-Benedictine-ebook/dp/B010EINBZS/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459767086&sr=1-1

This book was greatly expanded and revised last summer so a few months ago I treated myself and was not disappointed. What was already an exceptionally good book was made even more outstanding and although it has only one chapter specifically devoted to developing one’s rule it is packed with helpful insights and practical instruction.

So, gentle reader, join me as I share my ongoing journey of developing and living by a rule of life–all for the glory of God!

 

 

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