Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Are You Ready to Receive a Miracle?

“Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” – Luke 1:37 (MSG)

Do you believe in miracles? Are you ready to receive one? Are you sure?

The truth is, we all want to believe in miracles. There’s a reason why “Touched by an Angel” was so popular and is still aired on cable TV channels. I’ve noticed that it is played a lot in hospital rooms, actually. Why is that? Because even medical research shows that faith plays an important role in healing.

How many times have you actually seen a miracle, though?

I would be willing to bet that you’ve seen more miracles than you think. They’re happening all around, you know. The question is whether or not you recognize them as such.

We tend to think that miracles are like magic: wave a wand, and our troubles will disappear; wish upon a star, and our dreams will come true.

What we often fail to realize is that miracles come in all shapes and sizes. They also don’t begin with us. They begin with God.

I haven’t always believed in the goodness of God. I spent many years cursing the darkness of my circumstances, instead of chasing the light. But there was a point at which I gave up. I let go. I let God. I sought His will over mine. And when I did, the miracles began. Slowly, yet surely, my eyes were opened to what God was doing in me, through me, and around me. Hope was reignited. Joy filled my soul. My life began again.

This Christmas, I began to see the parallels between today’s miracles and one that happened over 2,000 years ago to a young peasant girl named Mary.

“You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out!” the angel Gabriel said to Mary when he first greeted her.

When God works a miracle, He first examines our hearts. 

“God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.”

God’s miracles are often quite unexpected and can even be disruptive.

“But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”

When God shares His plans for us, our first response is frequently disbelief. We question “how?” and “why?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you … therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.”

God tells us how He will accomplish His purpose: His part and our part. 

“And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant!”

God inspires us to believe in our own miracle by reminding us of another.

“Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

He assures us that whatever we are believing for IS possible with Him.

“And Mary said, ‘Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’”

We believe … we accept our part … and we receive.

When we see the process of how miracles occur, it’s easier to see how we may be hindering them in our own lives.

When I was in an infertile marriage, I prayed for a baby. God provided one. Not through a miracle pregnancy, but rather through another type of miracle: adoption. But it wasn’t like waving a magic wand or wishing on a star. It took work on my part. It took time. It took faith. Day by day, month by month, year by year. I had to let go of my way, to find a better way: His. And in the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It wasn’t the first miracle I experienced, nor was it the last. I've seen others healed. I've been healed myself. Lives have been transformed. People have been made whole. Relationships have been made new. Some miracles have come quickly, without human intervention. Others have taken time, in partnership between God and man. But make no mistake, every miracle has made its mark.

I have learned, through the power of these miracles, the hope for many more and the truth in Ephesians 3:20, which says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely MORE than we might ask or think.”

God is at work.

Miracles abound.

Are you ready to receive one?

Where do you struggle the most with regards to miracles?  Trusting God’s heart for you, that He hears your cries and cares for your needs? Preparing your heart, as you align your will with His? Believing in the possibilities that may be bigger than what you even dare to dream? Accepting your part in His purpose? May the wonder of Jesus' miracle birth carry you with hope for more miracles into the new year ahead.

Are You Ready to Receive a Miracle? originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Hope for the Holidays

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

I wonder sometimes how many of you came to this page because of one word: "hope." We are all looking for hope, aren't we? The world is not as we wish it to be. Crime. Violence. War. Broken relationships. Shattered dreams. Illness. Death. Whatever our struggles, sometimes they can overwhelm us and leave us feeling...hopeless. It is then, when we feel like giving up, that we reach for the word "hope," as if just reaching for it were enough. We want to believe that if we just hold on a little longer, then everything will be OK.

I have to ask you, though...in what are you placing your hope? In a half century of life, I have placed my hope in all the wrong places. Friends. Family. Diets. Doctors. My education. My wallet. My intellect. Even my own tenacity and determination. All good support structures to lean on, but not quite enough to bring me through the toughest times in my life. No, when I hit rock bottom, I found there was only One I could truly put my hope in. Day after day, time after time, year after year, I have found Him faithful: the Lord. my God.

Today, as we draw close to Christmas, I wish you love, I wish you joy, and I wish you hope in the One who loves you right where you are, who will never let you go. Life may not be all we wish it to be sometimes, but I know it is better with God by our side. Will you take His hand and let Him lead you into the abundant life He so desires for you? Will you choose to hope in Him?

May you experience the best gifts of Christmas that God has to give you this year: faith, HOPE, and love.



PS - For more on hope, visit these two previous Spring Sight blog posts: Life Questions Answered: What Gives You Hope? (+ 7 Promises) and Hold Onto Hope!

Hope for the Holidays originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Five Ways to Be Festive When You Don't Feel Well

“Don’t cry on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God— it is a time to celebrate with a hearty meal and to send presents to those in need, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:9-10

I thought this year would be different. It would be the year I would have the energy for all I wanted to do, rather than creeping along with a companion of constant fatigue. The year I would be able to enjoy every holiday moment with a smile on my face, rather than feeling I was running an endurance race, wincing with every step. The year I would forget about my chronic illness and celebrate the Christmas season like a “normal” person.

Alas, it is not.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is often described like being on a roller coaster. While getting on a DMARD (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug) this past year has definitely given me the gifts of more energy and less pain overall (thus the reason for my hopeful outlook towards the holidays), it comes with one teeny tiny drawback: a lowered immune system.  It keeps my body from attacking itself constantly over nothing (the very definition of an autoimmune disease), but when a real threat – aka a cold, flu bug, or any other type of illness – comes around, I don’t have what it takes to fight it off very well.

So here it is, the holiday season, and I’m sick. I had a fabulous weekend. I dressed to the nines for a Christmas party, we put up our outside lights, and I even entertained thoughts of holiday baking. Then last night, it hit. Aches. Chills. Fatigue so extreme that the dinner I had planned to cook for my family was scrapped in favor of microwaved packaged meals and breakfast cereal, and I was in bed by 7:45. So much for putting up the Christmas tree.

I know whatever is ailing me isn’t serious. It’s my faulty immune system going into what’s called a “flare.” Maybe it’s a delayed reaction to the flu shot I got last week. Perhaps I have picked up my daughter’s cold. My symptoms don’t warrant going to the doctor. The over-the-counter cough medicine is working, and tiny doses of lemon sorbet and lactose-free ice cream are soothing my scratchy throat. But I still don’t feel well. A part of me would like to hide away for the rest of the holiday season, while another part wants to scream “but it’s Christmas!!”

So what is there to do?

If you’re like me and have a chronic illness, or perhaps you’ve just got the holiday blues or a case of the flu, you need to know this: we have a choice. We can focus on what pains us, or we can try and make the best of a bad situation. Even though I don’t feel very festive right now, I refuse to let the holidays go by without me! So here are some ideas that perhaps we can try together:

Make Merry with Music
I have a confession to make: I have been known to pull out my Christmas music CDs in July … and any other time of the year.

Whether it’s nativity-focused hymns that warm the soul or jolly songs about Santa Claus, Christmas music has a way of making us feel the holiday spirit. It can bring back favorite childhood memories or just provide a backdrop of happy tunes for while we work. And, scientifically, it is proven to make us feel better! Studies have shown that listening to upbeat music can boost your mood, which in turn can make you physically healthier. This isn’t a new idea, either. In Psalm 28:7, David says “My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (the Lord).” So let’s get this holiday party started by turning on the tunes!

Don A Santa Hat
Did you know that in the Bible, there was an instance where someone who was going through loss was actually commanded by God to put on a hat, in order to hide his grief? Whereas taking off his hat would have been an appropriate way for him to publicly demonstrate his mourning, God wanted Ezekiel to show the people that he was OK, and his way of doing that was to leave his hat on. These days, most people don’t wear hats that they would need to “leave on” so the best alternative is for us to find a hat to put on!

When we don’t feel like putting on a happy face, a good way to “fake it ‘til you make it” is to put on a Santa hat, or any other festive headgear. Since it’s a traditional sign of merriment – and you have to admit, we all look a little cuter or funnier in it – people are apt to see you in a happier light. And as they offer their smiles and giggles (depending on exactly WHAT you’re wearing on your head), you’ll end up feeling better too.

If your blue feelings get the best of you when you’re alone, grab that hat and a mirror or selfie stick! With a few funny faces, I guarantee you’ll be able to muster up a grin or two, even if you’re just hanging out on the couch.

Accessorize with Shiny Objects
Confession number two: I have been known to leave my Christmas tree up waaaay past New Years! Not only does the task of putting it all away feel a little overwhelming, but when all of the glittering glass balls are removed from my living room, it just feels … plain.

Conversely, decorating the house for Christmas should have the opposite effect, right? Right. There is something about those sparkly Christmas ornaments that dresses up a house like nothing else.

But wait, I know what you’re thinking. You’re tired. You’re sick. You have no energy for putting up a Christmas tree, much less the gazillion other decorations there in your attic (which you may or may not be able to get down, depending on your physical condition).

Here’s a tip: A little goes a long way. A handful of gathered pine cones from the back yard in a basket with a ribbon bow makes a beautiful holiday arrangement. Or place some shiny metallic balls in a glass vase or silver bowl. You can even use a potted house plant for a Christmas tree! Hang a few small ornaments on its branches, perhaps add a bow on top, and voila! When it comes to holiday decorating, the “bigger is better” philosophy is not always the case.

Decorate Your Plate
For many people, especially those with chronic illnesses, the idea of preparing a big holiday “feast” or spending hours in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies is intimidating. And if we came from families with these holiday traditions, this can be an especially difficult part of the holidays for us. Trying to keep up may be physically impossible, whereas not doing it may create a sense of guilt.

Once again, the answer is not trying to do it ALL. This past Thanksgiving, we went to Honeybaked Ham for a turkey. Having an already cooked bird – along with canned cranberry sauce and fresh-frozen green beans that could be micro-steamed – took a lot of the legwork out of preparing the holiday meal. We also picked up some themed paper plates and napkins for dessert, which not only added a festive feel to the meal, but reduced the clean-up time.

Another trick, for anytime during the holidays, is to add a little d├ęcor to what’s already on your plate. Garnish a piece of purchased cheesecake with cranberries frosted with sugar. Use pomegranate seeds to add a touch of red to a green salad. Use holiday candy sprinkles to dress up store-bought cupcakes and ice cream. Get creative and have fun!

Find Your Inspiration
All of us are inspired in different ways. Seeing the beauty of God’s creation in nature, or in the wonder of a child. Lending a helping hand. Giving to charity. Lighting a candle. Sending a card. Spending time in the Word. Meditating on His love. Even watching movies that embody the Christmas spirit can lift our moods and encourage us to find joy in the holiday season.

For my family, worshiping together keeps us focused on the reason for the season, while hunting daily for our Elf on a Shelf keeps the love and laughter flowing.

Think about what inspires you. What draws you closer to others and closer to God during the holidays? What can you do today to amplify God’s gifts of joy, hope and peace in your own life or in the lives of others? Sometimes a tiny step is all it takes.

What are some things you do to shake off the holiday blues and to add sparkle to your Christmas season? Do you have specific coping strategies for when you’re not feeling up to doing all you’d like to?

Five Ways to Be Festive When You Don't Feel Well originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Angry? What's At Stake

And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry. – Ephesians 4:26 (NLT)

Almost every day for the past two months, I’ve woken up with a headache. The intensity has ranged anywhere from mild - where I could press my fingers into my temple and back of my head to make it go away within about 10 minutes – to a full-blown migraine that kept me in agonizing pain for several hours, even with medication.

After a while, pain gets old. I feel myself getting grumpier. Irritable. Angry. I want to go back to the way things used to be, when I awoke pain-free and enjoyed the early morning hours. When my days began with a smile, rather than a wince.

In the same way chronic pain, exacerbated by rheumatoid arthritis “flares,” can grate on my nerves, so hardships of other kinds can trigger the same type of emotional flare-ups in all of us. Financial uncertainty. Broken relationships. Unemployment. Rising healthcare costs. Political change. Social injustice. Crime. Terror Attacks. War. These are just a few of the issues facing the world today that are creating not just fear, but anger.

We want to go back to the way things used to be, when we awoke care-free and looking forward to the day ahead. When we weren’t on edge, waiting for the next shoe to drop. When we weren’t so weary from what seems like an endless struggle.

There is no way to go backwards in time, however; only forward. Nor can we get around the issues we are facing; we must work through them.

God never tells us not to feel anger. He tells us to “be angry and yet do not sin.” What does that mean for us? How does anger lead to sin, and how do we avoid it? The answer lies in one tiny verse, found in Ephesians 4.

The New Living Translation of the Bible translates “be angry and yet do not sin” as “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” The key is in that one little word: control.

Every day, we have a choice. We can let our emotions control us, or we can be controlled by the Holy Spirit.

When I am controlled by anger, my attitudes and actions will be in direct conflict with those evident when my life is controlled by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 points out that a Spirit-controlled life results in good fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.

I don’t know about you, but when I am consumed by anger about anything, it is hard to find much joy or peace. My actions don’t end up being very loving, either. My grumpiness turns into impatience, and what comes out of my mouth isn’t usually very kind. While on a “good” day, I might be quite humble and self-controlled, when I am seething in anger, I am likely to lose my temper and lash out at others with a prideful spirit. After all, if everything went my way, then everything would be just fine, right?

Hmmm. There’s that original sin again. Pride. That larger-than-life attitude that not only separates me from others, but separates me from God Himself. If only He would … Stinking thinking that flies in the very face of acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Yes, that feeling of absolute defiance and rebellion against His will, as if we know better. Living in anger causes us to not only doubt God’s goodness, but it leads us to think our world would surely be a better place if we were just running the show. Like that has really worked for us so far.

Control. It’s the very thing we grasp for, and yet also the very thing that holds us back from everything we want. 

Letting go – and letting God – is the only answer.

Then there's the next part of the verse, "Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” What's that all about?

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus suggests that in dealing with troubled emotions such as anger or worry, we contain them to just one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”

God knows we are going to have troubles in this world. He acknowledges it. And He knows our human nature is to get angry and worry. He also knows something we often forget: He is in control.

We do not have to worry or fret in order for things to work out. 

In fact, He makes it clear that worrying and being consumed by anger is a waste of our time and energy, distracting us from the very good He has called us to do.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus reasons, in Matthew 6:27.

I don’t have a spare hour in my day. If I did, I would want to spend it loving and laughing. Spending time with friends and family. Making the world a better place. Worrying will not give me that time. Staying in anger will take it away.

Are you willing to sacrifice love … joy … peace … on the altar of anger?

I’m not.

So today, I will do as Jesus says.

Today, I will believe that God cares.

I will accept the things I cannot change.

I will change the things I can.

I will pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

And I will tackle my life just one day ... one hour ... one precious moment ... at a time.

Are you carrying around a heavy load of anger and resentment today? Lay down your burden at Jesus’ feet. Believe that God cares for you and will meet your needs. Do not fear, for He will never leave nor forsake you! Let go and let God.

Angry? What's At Stake originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

God's Answer to Your Prayer

God has an answer for your prayer
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." - John 14:27

As I write this, there is a tear on my cheek. It is one of several tears I cried as I read someone’s blog about a loved one who is dying from cancer. I had never heard of the couple until recently, when others were talking about their situation, but you may know them. Joey and Rory. A country music duo who went from writing songs for others to being in the spotlight as performers in their own right. A couple whose life of love, faith and family has resonated in the hearts of their fans … and who now face the most daunting challenge of their 13-year marriage.

As I read Rory’s blog post from November 9, 2015, I was struck by the title, “An answer to prayer.” Many might have concluded that this was a celebratory post announcing God’s miraculous healing of Joey. It wasn’t. Joey’s pain had become so bad that they decided to focus on making her comfortable for her last days on this earth. It was time for hospice.

“Not the answer we hoped for … but the answer He has given us,” Rory wrote.

How many of us have been there? We hope. We pray. We believe for the miracle. The answer comes, but it’s not the answer we want.

Sometimes, the burden of an “unanswered” prayer is too much. We seek understanding through the world’s eyes and find none. We scream and cry out to God, “Why were you silent?” “Why didn’t you do something?!”

If we continue to cry out in anger, our hearts may grow cold and bitter. The love that was there – for God, for others, even for ourselves – disappears, hidden beneath the scars. We lose ourselves in the belief that we should never hold out hope again, and so we never find it.

There is another response, however.

“Joey is at peace with where she is and where she’s going. So am I,” Rory concludes.

It’s faith in God’s bigger plan.

Our best hope is for God’s peace. The peace that passes understanding. The peace that only He can give. 

Through the world’s eyes, our circumstances may seem tragic. The death of a loved one. A divorce. A job loss. A diagnosis.

But God doesn’t view our circumstances the way we often do. He sees what we don’t. He knows what we fail to grasp: that sometimes the beauty is in the very ashes themselves. That what lies beyond the pain of our current circumstance is so much better, He is willing to allow us to suffer momentarily in order to birth a bigger dream for us … in this life or the next.

Tweet: God is willing to allow us to suffer momentarily in order to birth a bigger dream for us. http://ctt.ec/5KO6a+ via @lindawperkinsGod is willing to allow us to suffer momentarily in order to birth a bigger dream for us … in this life or the next.

When I look back at my life, I remember the pain I felt when God said “no.” When He didn’t heal my first marriage, and it failed. When He didn’t heal my father, and he died. When He didn’t heal me, and I live with the daily pain of migraines and rheumatoid arthritis.

What I also see is the blessing in all of it.
I see the new marriage God has given me, and all the joy it contains. A healthy marriage, built on a more solid foundation. I see the blessing of my father no longer suffering with cancer, at home with his Father in heaven, while my mother is blossoming in her new life with her grief slowly but surely diminishing. And I see the opportunity I have to draw closer to God and to others, as I walk through my journey with chronic illness. It is not the life I had before. It has its challenges. And yet, even in the midst of pain, I can count on little moments of sunshine that never fail to peek through the clouds. I have hope. I have peace. I have joy.

An answer to prayer.

What is your prayer today? Will you trust God’s goodness enough to find peace in His answer, even if it’s not what you’re hoping for? 

God's Answer to Your Prayer originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Finding Shelter - God as My Refuge

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'"
- Psalm 91:1-2

It's happened two out of the last three years. Our fall getaway - a special tradition established at the very beginning of our relationship, designed to be a time to relax physically and reconnect emotionally - has been marred by pain.

Today, as we get ready to head to the little country cabin hideaway we picked out for this year's trip, I wonder ... will it happen again?

I'm trying to stay positive. The last few times, we had lots of extraneous events and stress leading up to the weekend, something I used as a reasonable explanation for my outrageous headaches, facial pain, and malaise. This year, we built in a buffer. My deadlines and parenting stress ended yesterday, and we're not leaving for a few hours. Yay! Relaxation mode is beginning to kick in.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that I've been in a roller coaster of RA flares for the past couple of months. Migraines. Neck pain. Sore hands and feet. A swollen knee. And of course, the never ending battle of fatigue.

Today, I was lucky. My headache dissipated on its own.

When I wake up tomorrow in that little cabin, will I cheerfully greet the day with a smile and be able to enjoy going out on the covered porch to take in all the beauty of the fall leaves and mist rising up from the lake? Or will I be desperately pressing my fingers into my temples and the back of my neck, as I lay in the dark, covers over my head, praying for relief to come before my head explodes into full-blown migraine mode?

I'm hoping for the first scenario, but prepared for the second. Armed with healthy foods, a small stock of pain meds, and a positive attitude, I know one thing for sure: something good will come out of this!

Last year, I spent most of my time in the cabin. But the time I spent out in my kayak ... those few, precious moments of soaking in God's creation and enjoying time with my "bestie" ... were the best moments of the year. It was then I realized that with chronic illness, there is no permanent reprieve. There is no set schedule. There is no assurance of things to come.

What there is assurance of, however, is that God is there in the midst of it all. What is a "shelter" but something to shield us from the storms of life? What is a "refuge" but a place to go when trouble is near? What is the value of "rest" if not for our tired, weary bodies and souls?

Whether I'm working through my daily life challenges or on "vacation," I have a choice: I can struggle, or I can rest. I can fight, or I can find refuge.

Instead of asking myself "Will this year be different?" I am choosing to ask "What will I do differently this year?"

Today, I am choosing serenity: to change the things I can and accept the things I cannot. I cannot predict what will be. But I can choose with Whom I will walk on the journey. And that One is my rest, my refuge, no matter what the days ahead hold.

Are you taking shelter in the shadow of the Most High God? Are you allowing Him to give you rest and refuge, even in the midst of pain? Remember, He will never leave you. Just take hold of His hand.

Finding Shelter - God as My Refuge originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Managing Chronic Illness and What My Doctor Misses

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle

I may be a card-carrying AARP member (recently qualified, thank you!) but since “50 is the new 40,” I like to think of myself as pretty young, with many good years ahead of me. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t always agree with me. And when I’m running back and forth to doctor’s offices, with this and that wrong with me, I remind myself more of a retired elderly person than a working mother of an 11-year-old!

The problem with managing multiple chronic illnesses is that they often are running on parallel tracks. I think sometimes I should hold a conference so that my rheumatologist can confer with my dermatologist, who can then consult with my neurologist, and so forth and so on…oh yes, and so my primary care doctor would actually have a clue as to the total picture.

Those of you in my shoes know that’s not the way the world works, though, is it? We shuttle back and forth from our general practitioner to our various specialists and hope that somehow we can keep it all straight: The appointments. The blood tests. The scans. The meds.

Occasionally, the tracks do come together, however, but not always in the best way. The trains on the tracks collide, leaving us in a real mess, trying to figure out how to make things work together.

Such was the case in my life this past week. When, in the midst of several months of chronic migraines, I was given medicine for my chronic cough that made my head – as if it weren’t hurting enough – feel like exploding, every single day. It flared up my rosacea and then began interfering with my thyroid and RA meds too, leaving me as a red-faced, head-pounding, fatigued, joint-aching mess.

Finally, today, I said “ENOUGH!!”

It’s not as if I have all day to deal with this. Did I mention that I work and have an 11-year-old? And that tomorrow is Halloween?

I thought about it. What about all of those well-meaning people who have been offering me supplements and essential oils for my various ailments? What the heck, I thought. I’ll give it a try. I put out a cry to help on my Facebook page and by noon, I had numerous people offering advice. Whereas I had rejected their advice before, today I felt nothing but gratitude.

Take this. Try that. Drink this. Stop drinking that.

Feeling more open to new ideas than I ever had, I decided to adopt a few. Meeting with someone who had been in my shoes was wonderful. She described being on six medications for just one ailment, and how they had adversely affected her, which she finally replaced with an essential oil. Voila! It wasn’t prescribed but it wasn’t “witch doctor” science either. The bottom line is, it worked. I’m open. I’ll try it.

I tried yoga this week too. It’s something I’ve always hated, maybe because I wasn’t good at it, but I had bought a Yoga for Arthritis video awhile back and so I thought perhaps this time would be different. It was. I was open. I tried it. And it felt great!

I’m even trying things that feel really hard. Like giving up my Diet Coke. And cutting back my coffee. Ouch! These two beverages are something I really enjoy! But do I enjoy them enough to be miserable, if they are in fact the cause of my chronic cough and headaches. No, today, I don’t think so. So once again. I’m open. I’ll try it. And we’ll see what happens.

What I’ve realized today is how easy it is to get lost in the pharmaceutical jungle. There are some meds I must take. They are the foundation for keeping my more serious illnesses under control. But like so much in life, they are just a small part of the bigger picture.

I am more than a patient. I am a whole person!

As a whole person, I have to remember that my recovery has to be holistic as well. I have to apply what Aristotle said, that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” If one part of my recovery is missing, then my healing won’t be complete.

I need more than just medicine. I need healthy food. Regular exercise. Social engagement. Spiritual connection. I need the whole package.

I write a lot on Spring Sight about how to have a spiritual connection with our Heavenly Father. Do you have that connection? Do you realize how important it is as part of your recovery? Perhaps you already do, but like me, there are other parts of your self-care that have been missing. Whatever it is, be gentle with yourself. You can only do so much. But remember, just a little bit of effort in each area of your life can make a big difference when you put it all together.

I’ll keep you posted on how my journey to wholeness is going. How are you doing on yours?

Managing Chronic Illness and What My Doctor Misses originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life Questions Answered - What Gives You Hope? (+ 7 Promises...)

I am thrilled to have Deb Wolf on Spring Sight today as a guest blogger, talking about an important life question: "What Gives You Hope?" and offering seven promises to give you hope when life is hard. 

Deb is the author of the book Sarah's Garden, a parable that tells of the struggle in each of us to flourish in our strengths, rather than persisting in to our weaknesses. She is also a speaker and author of several inspirational blogs including Counting My Blessings and Faith 'n Friends. She is a fan of babies, puppies, coffee, and chocolate (in that order) and loves conversations filled with laughter. 

Life Questions Answered - What Gives You Hope?

If hope is defined as…

     The belief that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Then, I wondered…

     What gives you hope?

I began with a Google search – What gives you hope? And found the following answers:
  • Not much.
  • Knowing that things could always be worse.
  • An inspiring person with strength and courage.
  • Belief that things will get better.
  • The determination and will power to improve whatever is wrong or overcome what’s going on.
  • When a child smiles.
  • Believing that dreams come true.
  • A sense of humor.
  • Optimism
  • Do you want hope that lasts?
Then I went to my friends on social media and asked. Here’s what they had to say:
  • God’s love and His Word.
  • God’s grace and forgiveness. That no matter how many times I mess up, what Christ has done has already cleaned up. The Grace of God in Christ alone gives me hope. 
  • Knowing that God is in control in my life on earth and for eternity….and that He operates only motivated by love.
  • Encouraging songs quotes and scripture that reminds me that God is in control He loves me wants the best for me and is faithful and will keep His promises. That gives me hope
  • God’s grace
  • Knowing that I am Jesus’ little lamb and someday I’ll live with Him forever.
  • Testimonies of people who were changed and saved by God’s mercy, grace, & love.
  • Knowing God has everything under control when to me it looks like nothing is under control.
  • Faith that makes it possible to take things one day at a time.
  • Remembering God created me, sent Jesus to redeem me, and calls me to be His own. Nothing happens outside of God’s control!
Earlier this week I wrote about the ways I find hope in God’s promises. Promises reminding me of His love and grace. Today…

7 Promises to Give You Hope When Life is Hard.
  1. God loves you. – For this is how God loved the world (you): He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
  2. God will meet your every need.  – This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
  3. God’s grace and forgiveness make you free. – Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Romans 6:14
  4. God will protect you in temptation. – If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 1-:12–13
  5. God cares and is with you everywhere always. – Keep your lives free from the love of money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you or let you be alone.” So we can say for sure, “The Lord is my Helper. I am not afraid of anything man can do to me.” Hebrews 13:5–6
  6. God is always working for your good and His glory. –And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (And when it works together for good its bring Him glory.)
  7. God promises a home with Him forever and always. – I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me. John 10:27–28 and “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. John 14:1–2 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5

Let’s keep the conversation going. What gives you hope? (Share your comments below)

Life Questions Answered - What Gives You Hope? by Deb Wolf originally appeared on Counting My Blessings.

For more Spring Sight blog posts by Linda W Perkins, click here. and get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and TwitterMany of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Four Truths for When You Reach the End of Your Rope

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I Corinthians 13:7 (ESV)

Calgon, take me away! I thought to myself. I am not sure if I can handle one more single thing!

It had been one of those days. And weeks. And months. You know the kind. The period of time when the stress of life piles on and on and on, until one moment, you just snap and exclaim, “I am truly at the end of my rope!”

Sometimes, that moment rushes in quickly. You wake up late, break the heel on your favorite pair of shoes as you’re racing out the door, spill your coffee in the car, and try not to yell or show your embarrassment as your child hugs your leg tighter and tighter at the daycare drop-off. As you pull away, your boss is calling on your cell phone, while in the rear view mirror you can still see the tears running down your little one’s face, while screaming “Mooommmyyyy!!!” Within just a few hours of waking up, you’re already tearing your hair out, dreaming of making a speedy escape from it all. Perhaps Bermuda would be nice this time of year, Triangle and all.

While days like that can be over-the-top frustrating, most of the time I reach the end of my rope gradually. It’s like playing the tower-of-blocks game Jenga. One little piece at a time is moved – taken away or put on the stack - until finally, it becomes too unstable and everything comes crashing down with a bang. Like it did the other day.. When, after a growing sense of pain and pressure from a variety of circumstances, I totaled my car. Yep, that’s right. Totaled it.

I had felt it coming on for a while. My body has a pretty good warning system. Joint pain. Fatigue. Daily migraines. A quick temper. I should have known it was time to take a ”mental health day,” and yet, while I can call in sick at work, I have yet to figure out how to do that at home. Heck, even this article is coming later than I had planned, because just as I was writing it, my daughter came in and announced she had lice! There went the next six hours. Ugh.

Sometimes, it all just gets to be too much.

I’m lucky to say no one was injured in my accident…oh, and $300 (and loads of laundry) later, my daughter no longer has lice. But regardless of the outcome, my nerves feel a little frazzled, to say the least. It’s that feeling of being overwhelmed, drowning in a giant ocean of obstacles and challenges, and trying to just keep my head above water.

I may say to myself, “Just breathe…it will all be OK,” but actually doing it is another thing all together.

Whether we’re drowning in the everyday details or we’ve just been whacked upside the head with a big traumatic event, God encourages us in His Word to let go of our own rope, when we get to the end of it … and instead, reach up to His. And in doing that, we can hold on to four key truths, based upon 1 Corinthians 13:7.
  1. God is the support system you can’t live without. When God says “love bears all things” that is a description of what He wants to be for us: a loving Father who supports us when we are weak. When we can’t carry our load of life struggles, He is there to bear the weight for us.
  2. God believes in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. God says He is love, and love believes in all things … including you! No matter how much you may think you can’t do this, or perhaps you’re still beating yourself up for the mistakes you’ve made, God sees the very best in you and knows you can do this!
  3. God wants you to keep living in hope. When we trust only in the chaos and confusion of life circumstances, it’s hard to remain hopeful. God wants us to trust in Him, the author of hope. The hope we have in Him is not circumstantial, but rather is steadfast during difficult times, because we know that in His bigger plan that we can’t see, He works all things for good.
  4. God is your strength for the long haul. Life may feel at times like a series of sprints, where you’re running as hard and as fast as you possibly can, but the reality is that it’s a marathon. And as any marathon runner will tell you, just finishing the race is an accomplishment in itself. It takes training, patience, perseverance, and commitment to get to the finish line, along with a solid supply of high energy nutrition and life-sustaining water. Without a regular supply of Daily Bread (Scripture) and Living Water (the Holy Spirit) that Jesus offers, we can’t make it through this life. We need His strength for the endurance we need.
Today, as I look back over the circumstances that led me to the “end of my rope,” I see God in the midst of it all. He was there as I grieved over the death of a friend, while reconnecting with another who sat next to me at the service. He was there in the comfort and grace I received from my husband after my accident, and the gratitude I felt that my precious child was unhurt. And yes, He was even there in the middle of my lice crisis, which led me across town and into the path of someone who needed help in that very moment. As I see Him there, ever present, I can relax. Life can get crazy sometimes, but God’s got it all under control. My part is to trust. Let go of my rope. And hold onto His.

Have you reached the end of your rope? If your life is filled with frustration and pain, let go of your own rope, and reach up and hold onto the strong rope that your Heavenly Father has sent down to save you. Then remember, when things get a little bumpy, just keep holding on! 

Four Truths for When You Reach the End of Your Rope originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. Click here for more posts. Get even more encouragement by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Many of Spring Sight's posts can also be found each week on Crystal Storms' #IntentionalTuesday,  Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkUp,, Holly Barrett's Testimony Tuesday, Arabah Joy's Grace & Truth and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

The Gift of Suffering

“There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.” – Philippians 1:29 (MSG)

You can’t write a blog for people with chronic illnesses without talking about suffering. For some, it’s an everyday thing. For others, like me, it’s every now and then. Most days, I hardly think about having rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Life is good, now that I have a good treatment plan, and I’m relatively pain-free. But it’s not difficult to remember a time when that wasn’t the case.

When my disease was in full-swing, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t wake up hurting. I couldn’t figure out why I was so fatigued all the time (was I lazy?) and why my fingers were too swollen to remove my wedding ring (was I getting fat?). And why did my feet hurt every time I stood up? Filled with self-doubt and unanswered questions (was I just getting old?), my life was beginning to feel like a train wreck.

I was suffering … and my family, feeling a little abandoned and frustrated with my “excuses” for not being able to do more, was suffering right alongside me.

I’ll tell you the truth. I’m glad those days are over and I have no desire to revisit them. Suffering is no fun. For anyone.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I opened my Bible the other day and ran across this verse: “And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”

Say whaaat??

Clearly, Paul, the writer of Philippians must have been mistaken. How can anyone think of suffering as a gift? Surely, suffering is not God’s will for us, right? Wrong. Maybe suffering is our own fault, and it will go away as soon as we turn back to God. Nope. Oh, OK, then perhaps God only allows us to suffer temporarily, so He can then show His healing power. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

The Bible says that suffering, not just the release from it, is a gift from God.

How in the world could this be true? I dug deeper. What I found was a God who cares deeply about our suffering (Exodus 3:7) and hears our cries for help. And while sometimes He does rescue us, He more often delivers us in our suffering and speaks to us in our affliction (Job 36:15).

His purpose for allowing suffering is not to harm us, but to draw us closer to Him.

In good times, we are often too busy for God. But when we are hurting, we turn to Him. We mature in our faith, take joy and comfort in His presence, and find strength through Him that we can then share with others. In the midst of pain, we find His peace.

Are you suffering today? Accept this gift. May you hear your Father’s voice of love and comfort, and experience His presence and peace. Cry out to Him. He is listening. What you are going through, He may allow, but He will never leave you.

An excerpt from The Gift of Suffering by Linda W. Perkins originally appeared on Purposeful FaithGet even more encouragement on Spring Sight and by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Coffee and Kayaks (and Other Favorite Things)

“When the dog bites and the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!” – My Favorite Things (song)

It’s a sunny Saturday and I’ve been inside at home all day, while my daughter is camping with the Girl Scouts and my husband just returned from kayaking. I had discussed going on both of these outings but decided yesterday that I really didn’t want to do either. I was still recovering from a week-long respiratory virus and as a result of my immune system kicking in, my joints weren’t feeling too great and I was plagued with fatigue. Such is my life with RA. Some days I can do everything I want, and others I can’t.

I won’t say I’m complaining today, though. With the pressure off and my schedule wide open, I awoke relaxed and refreshed, and have been enjoying a really nice day. As I wrote in a previous post, sometimes I just need to rest and that’s OK! Having the day “off” has given me a chance to catch up on missed episodes from the last episode of Blue Bloods so that I’ll be all caught up when this season starts.

Yes, I confess, I love to play armchair detective. I used to be a real one (PI and loss prevention agent, not an actual police officer), so watching all those CSI and cop shows is fun for me. I’m proud of the fact that 90 percent of the time, I figure out “who dunnit” before anyone else in my family. It’s like a little game for us. Having shoulder surgery earlier this year, with a lengthy recovery period that kept me firmly planted on the couch for a month or two, pretty much made me a certified expert. They should send me an honorary shield! Ah, the benefits of a sometimes very sedentary life with RA. No criminal is going to get by me!

In addition to today being armchair detective day for me, it is also the last day I’ll be posting as part of #RABlog Week. It’s been a great week, writing about life with rheumatoid arthritis and reading posts from other bloggers afflicted with this disease. But tomorrow is Sunday, which is my day for rest and worship, and I’m ready to get back to my regular writing schedule of once every week or two. School is back in session and so my mom duties are back in full-swing, and with a full (freelance writing and marketing) client load, I don’t have a ton of time to spare these days. If you’re new to this blog and want more frequent encouragement, please visit my Facebook and Pinterest pages. I post more frequently there, with links to other people’s pages as well.

Anyway,  the #RABlog Week Wildcard Topic I chose to write about today is “Tell us what you really enjoy and how that helps with RA.” I’ve already mentioned about my fascination with detective shows. How does that help with RA? Well, for one thing, it gives me something entertaining and engaging that keeps my mind off any pain I may be experiencing, it doesn’t require that I move (helpful if my knee is acting up), and it’s become an actual bonding experience with me and my family. Anything that can accomplish all three of those things at the same time is pretty great! Not to mention, I can watch those shows and know for absolute certainty that, given I’m not being shot at, my life is better than most of the people I am watching.

Those who know me well, though, know I am most passionate about three things: coffee, kayaking and God. And every single one of those is critical to my wellbeing and how I handle having RA.

I am most passionate about three things: coffee, kayaking and God. 

Coffee keeps me going. As a Louisiana native, coffee is more than a drink to me. It’s an invitation to enjoy life. It’s a tradition. It’s social. It’s not for getting wired up (although it does help with RA fatigue). It’s for calming down. It’s for waking up in the morning. It’s for enjoying in the car on the way to work. It’s what you offer a friend or neighbor, whether you’re just meeting to chat or you’re having a heart-to-heart. And as long as there’s good decaf around, it’s for enjoying after dinner. Pecan pie, or any other dessert for that matter, just isn’t as good without it.

Kayaking keeps me motivated. When I am on the water – taking in the clean, crisp air and natural beauty of the water and woods surrounding me – I feel alive and free.  It is there that all of my stress melts away and I can just breathe…ah…and yet, get in some good exercise at the same time. As I paddle, my shoulders feel strong and agile, the gliding motion somehow helping to soothe all the aches away. My hands may get sore, so I wear gloves and go slow, but being on the water makes it worth it. When I had shoulder surgery, I was more faithful in my rehab than most patients. Why? Because I wasn’t willing to risk not paddling on my bucket-list vacation to the Canadian Rockies. If exercising with RA will keep me in good enough shape to kayak, I will do it every day that I can!

God keeps me grounded. Knowing He is there, all-present and all-powerful, gives me joy and gives me hope. Reading His Word not only reminds me of His promises, but it makes me realize that throughout history, He has done some mighty powerful things, even in and through broken people like me. And time in prayer helps me stay grounded in gratitude. Some days are harder than others, but I can always find something to be thankful for, and it seems easier to find that place of peace when I close my eyes and rest in His presence.

Thanks for joining me this week for #RABlog Week. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be featured on Kelly Balarie’s Purposeful Faith page next week. Until then, be well and God bless!

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Coffee and Kayaks (and Other Favorite Things) originally appeared on Spring Sight blog, by Linda W. Perkins. It is one of a series of posts specifically about Rheumatoid Arthritis, as part of #RABlog Week. 

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