Tuesday, December 20, 2016

And the Winner is...

Congratulations to Deb Constien, who won a copy of The Case for Hope book by Lee Strobel in my recent giveaway! Thank you to all who participated by sharing my post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, and for subscribing to Spring Sight. This was my first giveaway, but I have a few more in mind for 2017, so please continue to let people know about Spring Sight! As you know, this site exists for one sole purpose: to give hope to people who are hurting. 

As I sit here in my living room, looking at my lit Christmas tree, I am reminded of all the gifts I have received this year - love and laughter, hugs and kisses, sunny days and starry nights, cool breezes and warm fires. I truly believe that the best gifts in life are free. We receive some of them from family and friends, and some from the world around us.

So often, when we are diagnosed with a chronic illness, we may think we will no longer receive the gifts life has to offer. And yet, my few years with rheumatoid arthritis has taught me that's not true. Living with RA and my other chronic illnesses, I have learned that I now have other gifts to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Where There is Hope {GIVEAWAY}

“The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” 
– Psalm 147:11 (NIV)

Have you ever thought about how precious the gift of hope is? How lost we feel when we don’t have it? If you have ever been hopeless, you know exactly what I mean. I remember many years ago, when I had wandered away from God and made a mess of my life, feeling hopeless. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. But in desperation, I reached up to Him and He made me whole again. It wasn’t overnight. It was a process. But as I trusted His love for me, I began to see it becoming a reality.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In Government We Trust?

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7 NIV

It’s been almost a week since the United States presidential election and protests directed at President-elect Donald Trump have become a daily occurrence. The LGBT community, Muslims and Hispanic immigrants are expressing concern over Trump’s campaign rhetoric that brought with it support from white supremacist, far-right wing groups that have become more vocal in recent days. Many are also outraged at his comments to and about women.

We in the chronic illness community have responded as well. Many didn’t appreciate the apparent mocking by Trump of a disabled man at one of his rallies. Many others have rightfully been concerned about healthcare. Most of us with chronic illnesses applauded Obamacare for its mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions, and yet, insurance rates under Obamacare have skyrocketed – especially for those in the middle class, without subsidies – making it a mixed bag of blessings and curses, to be sure.

As I sit in the middle of it all, I have watched both sides of the debate. I have seen the anger of my friends with small businesses and the self-employed, who were genuinely hurt by Obamacare. I have also seen the fear of those disabled by rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic illnesses, who desperately need and rely on government-sponsored healthcare.

Who will help us?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Familial Guilt: Is It My Fault? Is It Theirs?

"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" – John 9:2

I received a call from a dear family friend the other day. I hadn’t heard from her in a while and she needed to talk. After we got through a few minutes of small talk, she said she had to share something important with me: her teenage daughter had been diagnosed with glaucoma.

It began with a straightforward statement and explanation of the doctor’s finding. But then, mid-sentence, she broke down in tears.

“I feel so awful!” she cried. “The doctor says it’s genetic. It’s my fault!”

I listened as my sweet friend poured out her heart to me, so broken that her own genetic makeup – including several chronic illnesses – had been passed down to the next generation.
Familial guilt is all too common…and all too painful.
Just ask the parents of a child who has gone astray. No matter what they may have done right, their question is always “Where did we go wrong?” We blame ourselves when our perfect little babies don’t stay so perfect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Doing Good in the Face of Evil

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” – Romans 12:9 (ESV)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about listening to the Holy Spirit for wisdom. In that post, I was referring to wisdom in the context of caring for ourselves. Today, I’m going to talk about it in a different context.

In James 1:5, the Bible says that if anyone asks God for wisdom, it will be given to him. Isn’t that a great promise? So how is it, then, that we are less than a month away from the U.S. election, and there are so many of us seeking wisdom, and yet we still don’t know what the right decision is with regards to voting?

One of the most life-changing Bible studies I have ever done is Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. In it, the authors discuss different ways in which God speaks to us: through the Bible, prayer, church, wise counsel, circumstances, and of course, through the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is filled with men and women who made poor choices, so we can’t look to them as examples of what we should or shouldn’t do. What we can do, however, is look at what God himself – through His encounter with Moses and through Jesus – tells us about His will for our lives.

Friday, September 30, 2016

#RABlog Week Day 5: Great Blog Posts I Have Read This Week

Just One Voice,
Singing in the darkness,
All it takes is One Voice,
Singing so they hear what's on your mind,
And when you look around you'll find
There's more than
One Voice
 - Barry Manilow - 

When I was 16 years old, I was a huge (or in the words of Donald Trump, lol, YUGE!) Barry Manilow fan. His songs somehow had the power to make me smile and cry at the same time. There was so much truth and so much raw emotion in them, and a few, like Copacabana, even had a little mystery and humor mixed in.

In the same way, #RABlog Week is one of my favorite times of the year because it brings together a whole lot of different stories and perspectives from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients from around the world. We smile as we hear a story we relate to. We cry when we read of someone’s pain and struggles that are even more difficult than our own. We get some good advice from others who have been there and done that. We are inspired and encouraged, and occasionally, we even find a little humor. As writers, we begin as just One Voice, but then learn there are a whole lot more of us, and together, we sing a beautiful chorus.

With almost 40 registered bloggers and more than 50 entries (so far), I haven’t had a chance to read all of this year’s blogs, but I can share with you a few I have enjoyed, as well as some collective wisdom I found threaded through all of them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Caring for Yourself ... Wisely

"Use wisdom, and it will take care of you. Love wisdom, and it will keep you safe."
- Proverbs 4:6 (ICB)

Today is Day 2 of #RABlog Week and the topic is “Active vs Reactive Patients – We usually start as naïve and trusting patients, then at some point we realize we must take an active part in our own medical decisions…” 

Some of you may be reading this blog for the first time, as a result of #RA Blog Week, but there are others of you who are regular readers that don’t struggle with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), so I am going to talk today about something relevant to the #RABlog Week topic and to all of us: wisdom.

Perhaps there are a few exceptions out there, but for most of us, wisdom is not something we are born with. Take, in point, the story of ironing my doll clothes. 

I was about 10 years old and living in the tropics, and so wearing a bikini around the house wasn’t that unusual. My favorite doll Crissy, however, wanted to look a little fancier than I did. Alas, her dress was wrinkled. Being the daughter of a fashion queen (not just self-professed … my mother actually became a paid fashion and image consultant later in life), I knew that wearing wrinkled clothes just wouldn’t do. I told my mother, as she was walking out the door, that I would need to use the iron to take care of Crissy’s fashion crisis. 

Being the good mother she was, my mom told me to wait until she got back home. And being the (stubborn, disobedient) child I was, I completely ignored her instruction. Crissy’s dress was wrinkled. I was going to fix it. Period!

Monday, September 26, 2016

#RABlog Week Day 1: A Wedding, a Kayak and a Diagnosis

"RA Does Not Have to Define You" - Linda W. Perkins

Today is Day 1 of #RABlog Week and the topic is "Starting Stories." I've told my story several times here on Spring Sight and I wondered how I might tell it differently this time.

While I would never consider the diagnosis of a chronic, painful and incurable illness like rheumatoid arthritis to be amusing, there comes a point in your life when you have to find a way to laugh at even the worst of circumstances. After all, it's been said that laughter is good medicine for the soul, and I tend to agree.

So for today's post, I have created a title that's a take-off on the old "A Priest, a Rabbi and a Minister" joke. Yes, my starting story could be best described as "A Wedding, a Kayak and a Diagnosis." And fortunately for me, I was reminded by a fellow RA blogger's post that I have already told this story once before, in a multimedia format that's much more interesting than just a written story.

So without further ado, may I present "A Wedding, a Kayak and a Diagnosis" as told by me, and produced by Health Central. Read, listen and enjoy (spoiler alert: it has a good ending)!

My Story: A Wedding, a Kayak and a Diagnosis (link)

Check back here during the week for more RA-related posts, and go to the #RABlog Week topics page to find posts by other RA bloggers!

#RABlog Week Day 1: A Wedding, a Kayak and a Diagnosis 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.

Subscribe to Spring Sight via e-mail

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alone in the Wilderness

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16

My husband passed by my office door, on the way from the living room to the bedroom. A minute later, I glanced up and saw him standing there in the doorway, casually eating a banana and staring at me.

“Hey, what’s up?” I asked, trying not to sound annoyed.

“Oh nothing. Just thought I would see what you were up to,” he said with a sweet smile.

I smiled back at him, hoping he wouldn’t notice what was really going on inside me. I wanted him to leave me alone. I needed him to leave me alone. But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. After all, it really wasn’t about him. It was me.

That stress you’re feeling isn’t just in your head; it affects your body too.

The truth was that inside, I was feeling like a pressure cooker. It was the beginning of fall, which meant piles of paperwork and calendar items were coming home from school with my daughter on almost a daily basis. On top of it, my work life was going crazy, with deadline upon deadline. Add in my various health issues, and I was frazzled.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Returning to Laughter

“So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.” – Psalm 126:6

It’s been two years since I began this blog. Two years since my father died. Two years since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Two years of many tears.

Two years ago, all I could see was pain. Emotional. Physical. Even spiritual, as I shook my fist at God and questioned “Why?” and “Why now?”

Being diagnosed with a chronic, progressive, incurable illness like RA has a way of derailing us emotionally. There we are, headed down the path of life, full of dreams of where we want to go, and suddenly, it all comes to a screeching halt.

I imagine it might be a little like being diagnosed with cancer. There’s something surreal about being told you have a disease that literally has the power to take your life (and yes, RA is more than just joint pain – it can, in fact, be deadly).

Unlike with cancer, however, where the biggest question is often “Can I beat this?” the question for people with autoimmune disorders – RA, lupus, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and more – is “Can I live with this?” There is no beating it. Even if they go into remission for a time, these are diseases you are stuck with for the rest of your life.

Grieving a diagnosis like this is much like grieving any other loss, though. There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression … and eventually, acceptance. The key to living with chronic illness is not getting stuck in the first four.

Friday, August 26, 2016

When Saying Yes Means Saying No

"Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 19:19

“Come on, it will be fun!” she said. “We can drive up together!”

The invitation was tempting. I had already stepped out of my comfort zone, committing to a retreat that was still a couple of months away, all the while knowing that during this season of the year I am prone to chronic migraines. Nevertheless, I wanted to get to know a few of the women in my support group better, and it sounded like a fun way to do it.

The problem now, however, was that my new friend wanted to take it a step further. She wanted me to drive together to the retreat, almost two hours away, in one car. To many people, that – three or four women on a road trip together – would sound like a blast. But to me, it was terrifying.

How does one explain to someone what it’s like to live with the unpredictability of chronic illness? Even more so, living with multiple chronic illnesses? While some people will say “you don’t have to explain yourself,” I felt bad. I didn’t want to appear like I was rejecting my friend, or her offer. But I had been there before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Don't Hide Your Light

“Men do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. They put it on a table so it gives light to all in the house. – Matthew 5:15 (NLT)

As I walked towards the recreation building, off to the side of the church, I noticed the sky. It had turned dark and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before it would open up and begin pouring buckets. There had been so much flooding in the area recently, and I knew that more storms might mean I wouldn’t get home. It didn’t matter, though. I needed to be there.

I entered the building, and an older lady greeted me with a smile. “Are you here to pray, or for the other meeting?” I told her I was there to pray, and she directed me to a table of women who already had their heads bowed.

I was new to the church and didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that an hour beforehand, I had dropped my daughter off at her school bus stop, waited until she was on the bus safely, and then went home and sobbed. It was her first day of middle school, a day we had planned for all summer. Despite her nervousness, it was a day we were excited about. But it was not off to a good start.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Finding Perfection in the Imperfect

How can a mere mortal presume to stand up to God?  How can an ordinary person pretend to be guiltless? Why, even the moon has its flaws, even the stars aren’t perfect in God’s eyes – Job 25:4-5

Two years ago, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I would never have imagined myself saying the words that came out of my mouth last weekend.

“I am already living my dream, every day!”

I was standing in front of a table at a Christian writers conference, where an author and consultant was doing a prize drawing. All I had to do in order to enter was to write down my “big dream” on the paper covering the table.

I explained that I would have to think on it. As we chatted, I mentioned that I had several chronic illnesses, including RA. The consultant immediately jumped on it.

“Well, I’m sure that’s probably your big dream – to be healed!”

Even to my own surprise, I found myself replying, “Actually, no. That isn’t.”

If you’re a spoonie (someone who suffers from a chronic illness) like me, you’re probably sitting there with a look of disbelief on your face, as you read what I just wrote.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Heart of a Father, the Heart of God (Guest Post)

Today, I am happy to introduce Terri Fullerton as my guest blogger. I met Terri at a Christian writers conference recently and her ability to see spiritual truth in everyday events is remarkable. 

Terri loves stories of redemption and things that are funny, and she encourages others toward hope and freedom. She also longs to share how big and loving God has been in her own life. When Terri is not writing or researching stories, she is often outside. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling and photography. Terri is contributing writer at The Glorious Table, Life Letter Cafe, and Huffington Post Blog. 

The Heart of a Father, the Heart of God

In January of 1982 I stood frozen before the television as a breaking news report interrupted whatever show I’d been watching.  Shortly after takeoff from Washington, DC a plane bound for Florida hit the 14th Street Bridge in a winter storm and plummeted into the icy Potomac River.

There were six survivors, initially, clinging to the tail of the plane, a small island of hope in the freezing water. Emergency response teams arrived quickly, but access was limited by the river’s thick ice.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Releasing the Ghosts of the Past

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13 (NLT)

I hadn’t looked at my high school yearbooks in years. There was no need. That was then. This is now. I had moved on. Or so I thought.

As I reached up into the living room cabinet and took one down, I could feel the memories flooding back. Opening the cover, I could hear the spine crackling, as if the book was an ancient artifact, fragile from years of storage.

I felt a sense of dread come over me. Sure, there were some good times back then, but buried in that book were memories that haunted me right down to the core of my soul. These were not just a few bad moments. These were the kinds of ghosts that I had spent years trying to exorcise from my mind, the kinds that would keep me locked up in a prison of guilt and shame, remorse and regret.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I looked around me at the women in the pool, watching as their gray-haired heads bobbed up and down to the beat of the loud music. Their wrinkled, sagging skin told me they had at least 10 or 20 years on me, and yet I was the one struggling to keep up.

When we finally got to the end of class, I commented to one lady, “Wow, this water aerobics isn’t for sissies, is it?” She just shrugged and smiled. She was there every day. To her, it was no biggie. To me, this was more than a struggle. It was a matter of life and death.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finding Hidden Treasures (aka Arthritis in your Armpits!)

“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

A few years ago, while on a camping trip with my daughter, I learned a new game called geocaching. Similar to a scavenger hunt, you use a global positioning system (GPS) to find a hidden “cache” of treasure. The difference between the two games, however, is that with geocaching, you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. All you know is that it will be in a container of some kind, and that it will be located at certain coordinates on the GPS. The treasure itself is a surprise.

I have noticed, in my journey with God, that life can sometimes be like geocaching. We are looking for something – our purpose, a new direction, or perhaps a specific answer to prayer – but we aren’t sure exactly what we will find.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Confidence Crisis: Two-step or Trust?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

I stared at the article in front of me. The photo of a kayaker gliding across smooth open water towards the setting sun caught my eye. It wasn’t the beautiful picture holding my gaze, however. It was the words. The utterly…beautiful…words.

Every month, I look forward to the day Texas Highways magazine arrives in my mailbox. Unlike the numerous other magazines I subscribe to, which end up largely unread in stacks on my coffee table, this one almost always gets immediately devoured. I want every detail of its content…where to go, what to do, and how to get there. If the stories involve nature or food, even better. And if there is anything at all on kayaking, well, you know I’m going to read it!

Opening up the pages of my favorite travel magazine yesterday didn’t generate the usual excitement, though. In fact, reading it didn’t make me happy at all. Right there, in the middle of the page, was the most beautiful, poetic writing I had ever read. Its effect? A crisis of confidence. One as strong as the one I felt when I changed my college major, after comparing my high school art project to that of the art teacher’s protégé. If I have to compete with artists like that, I concluded, I will never make it!

If I look back at my career, I can see that every change I ever made began with a crisis of confidence. Can I manage to make these advertising deadlines, or should I become a teacher instead? Am I really inspiring these students, or should I go back into advertising? Can I make it in this job, or should I go out on my own? Can I make it on my own, or should I go back into the corporate world?

Two steps forward, one step back; back and forth, forth and back. Embarrassingly, this two-stepping pattern has been going on for decades.

Fortunately, most of the moves I have made over the past 15 years or so were ones that did indeed push me forward. But what about the moves that pushed me back? The ones in which I had dreams I cowered away from out of fear of failure? The ones in which I tiptoed into new territory, only to be frightened away by giants in the land who were bigger than me?

Even worse, how about the ones where I moved boldly in a new direction, staking my claim, announcing my new identity, only to be found floundering a few months or years into it… Then someone asks, “Hey, didn’t you say you were going to …?” Oh yeah, that. Um. Nevermind.

At church over the last few weeks, we have been studying the life of Abraham. What a man of faith. I wish I could say I was more like him. Unfortunately, I suspect I’m more like his wife.

“Ha ha ha, yeah, a baby at my age?? Mmm hmm … right,” she scoffed.

God didn’t like that too much.

I imagine he probably doesn’t like it too much when I scoff at His plans for me too.

“Ha ha ha, yeah, you want me to scale back my corporate writing to write more about You?  Mmm hmmm … right,” I scoff.

Just like Sarah had all of her facts lined up about why she didn’t need to get pregnant at age 80-something – uh, hello God, I already had a son through my maidservant, and in case you didn’t notice, I’m waaay past menopause and am not even sure me and Abe are up for “making it” happen! – I have all of my excuses ready for God too.

Um, hello God, don’t you see those other writers out there? Look at them! They are artists – I’m just a techie. They’re young, while I’m in the second half of life. And did you not notice my busy parenting schedule? Like I have all this extra time and energy to invest in a brand new career track…and did I mention needing income? C’mon, Lord, how is this going to work, anyway?

So often, we hear God calling, telling us how He wants to work through us. But just like Sarah must have felt when she was told she was really, finally going to bear a child, sometimes the prospect of God’s big dream-come-true plan is as scary as it is exciting. And so we scoff.

The longer I live, the more I pray to be less like Sarah and more like Abraham. He may have laughed when God told him he was going to have a son with Sarah – and no doubt, he was as shocked as she was – but he didn’t scoff. He had journeyed long enough with God to trust Him, and as a result, was able to laugh with delight at God’s promise.

It’s not as if Abraham had never had a crisis of confidence. Just as I zigzagged along in life, as a result of my own hesitations and lack of patience, Abraham too had moments where his faith waivered and he took matters into his own hands. And just like me, he found those decisions didn’t always end well. But God is good. He gives us second chances. This time, when God asked him to trust, Abraham decided to actually do it. If God wanted to use him, even with all of the limitations he and Sarah saw working against them, he would do what he was told and let God do the rest.

It comforts me to know the Bible is full of stories in which even the biggest heroes of the faith were used by God, despite their lack of confidence in themselves. They didn’t believe they could be used by God because they only saw themselves through human eyes. But God saw them through a much bigger lens.

God didn’t care that Sarah and Abraham were old, or that Moses had a speech impediment, or that Peter was just a fisherman. God used them all – ordinary people – for big, wonderful, God-glorifying things. A great nation. A freed people. The foundation of His church. All they had to do was trust His lead … and follow.

I heard someone once say that God doesn’t call us to the possible; He calls us to the impossible. Why? Because if it were easy, we could do it all by ourselves. God assignments are always bigger than we are.

Scoffing isn’t the answer. God is going to do what He is going to do, regardless of our attitude. It’s a matter of whether we’re going to go along with him kicking and screaming, like Jonah (we know how well THAT turned out) or if we’re going to go along like Abraham did, laughing with delight. We may have no clue as to how we are going to get to where God is taking us, but we might as well just get on board, buckle our seat belts and enjoy the ride.

I have a ways to go before my words look as beautiful on paper as the ones I read in Texas Highways. It may also take me awhile to reach all the people I’d like to share my God stories with. But that’s OK. It will happen. One day. And in between here and there, if I have a crisis of confidence, I’ll choose a different response than I have before. I may not fully believe in myself, but I can trust Him to believe in what He is doing in me. No more zigzagging down the journey of life. My two-stepping days are gone. Instead, I’ll just be trusting God to move me forward in this dance called life. He can lead. I will follow.

What are you trusting God for today? Do you believe in yourself? If not, can you trust in God to believe in you? What is holding you back from following where He is leading you?

Confidence Crisis: Two-step or Trust? 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart, and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace, as well as with Lori Schumaker.

Subscribe to Spring Sight via e-mail

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When Flood Waters Rise

“Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won’t collapse, for it is built on rock.” – Matthew 7:25

It is day three of Houston’s Great Flood of 2016. The TV newscasts look the same. Picture upon picture, video upon video, of water. Everywhere. In the streets. In houses. In cars.

Flooding. It’s not a pretty picture.

Living on the Gulf Coast, we get used to it. We know, if we live near a bayou or creek, which roads will flood first and which will be the last to reopen. We know which highway underpasses to avoid. We also know, when we are looking for a new house, to ask whether it is in the 100-year flood plan.

We think we know it all. What to anticipate. What to watch for. Where to go and not go. Where to buy and not buy. What to do and not do.

Then it happens. The flood we never anticipated. No, not the 100-year flood event. The FIVE-hundred-year flood event. Uh, yeah, that one. THIS one.

This year, in this flood, I’m turning on the news and hearing stories I’ve never heard before. Stories that begin with, “It’s never flooded here…” coming from people who have lived in the same home for four or five decades.

After 40 or 50 years in the same place, people are being caught unaware, unprepared. They never thought it would happen to them.

So here I sit, surrounded by swollen creeks and water logged streets, pondering how similar this flooding is to life.

We never think it will happen to us, do we? That chronic illness. That job loss. That addiction. Whatever it is that we think only happens to other people.

And yet, here we are.

There is a reason Jesus shared the story of the house built on the solid rock versus the one built on sinking sand. He knows us too well.

Jesus knows that we most often go for what’s easy. What’s beautiful. That beachfront property on silky white sand, warm and wonderful to sink our toes into, just steps from the cool splashes of the ocean tide. It’s close to the action there. We can just breathe in everything around us. It’s so … mesmerizing.

We build the houses of our lives when the sun is shining and soft breezes feel refreshing on our skin. We aren’t thinking about the storms of life. Those won’t happen to us, we tell ourselves, and so we go ahead and throw our cares to the wind. We make choices based solely on the moment, instead of looking into the future and asking ourselves the all-important question, “What if?”

What if I get sick?
What if I get in a car accident?
What if I lost my job?
What if I do it once, and I can’t stop?
What if this relationship doesn’t end in marriage?
What if …?

One of my friends sells insurance, and I bet she asks people “What if …?” a hundred times a day. And I also bet she hears “That’s OK, I’ll take my chances” and “Aw, I doubt that will happen” in response more times than she can count.

But don’t we all say that, at one time or another?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Despite not knowing a single person who says they plan to fail, I know many of us have great testimonies of failures in our lives that are due to a lack of solid planning.

And yet, how many times do we encounter the truly unexpected? How do we plan for those times? Even the Bible, in Psalms 2, it says that all of our planning is sometimes for naught, because God is ultimately in control.

So, if we can’t really plan, what are we to do? The answer is simple. We prepare.

Even in the absence of evidence that we will face a hardship, preparing for one can mean the difference between damage and devastation.

Just like insurance can protect us from financial ruin, being spiritually prepared can protect us from personal ruin. If we’re smart, we won’t bank on a foundation of sand. Instead, we trust in a more solid foundation: Faith in Jesus Christ.

When I am prayed up and grounded in God’s Word, I can be fully prepared for whatever comes my way. Why? Because my Bible doesn’t leave my “if” questions unanswered.
If I lose my job, then I will not panic because I know God has a plan for me and it is good (Jeremiah 29:11). 
If I become ill, then I know that God can restore my health in this life (Psalm 41:3) or the next (2 Corinthians 5:2). 
If I suffer a financial loss, then I will not worry about going hungry because I know that God is my provider (Psalm 147:9). 
If I encounter temptation, then I can stand firm knowing that God will provide an escape from it (I Corinthians 10:13). 
If I am faced with a hard decision and need wisdom, then I can pray and know God will give it to me (James 1:5). 
If I make a mistake, then I know I can find forgiveness and I am covered by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). 
If I am rejected, then I can still hold my head high knowing that God has an even greater love for me (John 3:16). 
Even if I am facing death, then I will not need to be afraid because I know that nothing can separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).
None of us know what lies ahead. No one can “plan” for the next 500-year flooding event. From what I have seen this week, however, I bet more will be prepared.

I want to one of those prepared. Not just for floods. For life. I’m building my house on the Rock. How about you?

What events in your life have hit you unexpectedly? Were you prepared to deal with them? How can you shore up your spiritual foundation so that you’re better prepared to face any future storms that come your way?

When Flood Waters Rise 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

At the Crossroads: Go This Way!

“Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: ‘Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go’ whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.” – Isaiah 30:21 (VOICE)

It was a rough night. I tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable. My head was aching and my heart was pounding, as the thoughts continued to whirl around in my mind. “Give me peace, Lord,” I prayed, but peace wasn’t to come. Deep inside me, a battle was raging. A battle between truth and deception. A struggle to discern what was right, and ultimately, which way to go.

Crossroads in life are rarely comfortable. I’m not talking about the easy, yes-no decisions we make every day. I’m talking about the hard ones. The ones that come with a cost, especially if you make a mistake. The ones that can be gut wrenching and keep you up at night.

There I was, at a crossroads, again.

I don’t like these places. They scare me. I want the facts to be clear, the decision cut and dried, the answer to be easy. But that’s rarely the case, is it?

So often, those crossroads moments sneak up on us. A sideways glance. A nagging feeling here and there. A piece of evidence that doesn’t add up.

Pretty soon, though, those little pieces of evidence start to pile up in front of us. Like a jigsaw puzzle coming together, we start to see a bigger picture.

The problem is when the picture we are seeing now isn’t the picture we saw before.

Did the puzzle pieces come from the same box? Did I get it wrong from the start? Or did I jump into an unfinished canvas, and the artist changed course midstream? 

“Give me wisdom,” I prayed.

I knew God would answer that prayer. 
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:15
As the sun arose over my sleepless night, I got up, determined to validate what I knew in my heart. I searched for knowledge and found it readily. I prayed for discernment and was able to sift fact from fiction. I prayed for wisdom, and found confirmation and validation for all I had been seeing and hearing and feeling for weeks, months, and possibly years.

But the crossroads was still there in front of me.

What do we do with knowledge and wisdom, once we have it in hand? How do we know which way to go?

One of the truths I was reminded of recently was that prayer was never designed to be a speech, but rather a conversation. Yes, it’s a time to share our hearts with the Lord. But it’s also a time to listen.

The prophets knew what it was to be at a crossroads, to be facing big challenges that required big decisions. At one of those crossroads, the prophet Elijah discovered something remarkable. 

As he stood on a mountaintop, weighted down with despair and trying to decide whether to live or die, hide or fight for his faith, he waited for the Lord. Scripture says that when the Lord passed by, there was a raging wind, a powerful earthquake and a blazing fire.

After Moses encountered God in the burning bush, Elijah probably expected to find Him there in one of those big, obvious signs, just as we want Him (and His answers) to appear to us in neon lights. There would be no mistaking it, then! And yet, the Bible says Elijah did not find Him there.

After the wind, after the earthquake, after the fire … came a still, small voice. Elijah was still. He was listening. And he heard it. The voice of God. Telling him what he needed to hear: which way to go.

Two hundred years later, God told Isaiah to remind the people of this truth.
“Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: ‘Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go’ whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.” – Isaiah 30:21
He reminds us to listen for His voice.

His voice, the passage says, lines up with His commandments. We can find His still, small voice through scripture.

His voice was heard through the mouths of the prophets. We can find His still, small voice through the wise counsel of biblically grounded Christians.

His voice was heard in the quiet. We can find His still, small voice through prayer.

His voice is sweet. We can recognize it by the love it conveys and the peace it brings to our hearts.

Today, my path is clear. I am no longer at a crossroads. I have heard the voice of the Lord saying “Go this way!” and I am traveling in that direction. I don’t have all the answers, and don’t know the final destination on this particular avenue of my life. But I know I am going the right way. All the signs point in that direction. And I have peace, knowing the Lord is behind me, charting my path, whispering “go!”

What big decisions are you facing? Have you prayed for wisdom and discernment? Have you sought out God’s still, small voice? Where is He calling you to go today?

At the Crossroads: Go This Way! 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Praying Through the Fear

“Cast all your anxieties upon him, for he cares about you.” – I Peter 5:7 (RSV) 

It was a first for me. I was not one of those people with “dentist phobia.” Growing up, our family dentist was also our family friend. I had my teeth filled with only a minimal amount of anesthetic. I was awake for oral surgery and watched the procedure with fascination. No, going to the dentist never scared me. Until yesterday.

A bad experience and fear of the unknown can be a powerful cocktail, and I was drinking it up. I felt woozy from all of the thoughts swimming around my head. My mind wandered back to the last major dental work I had, a disastrous event that resulted in gum ulcers, an infection and a complete redo on the crown itself. What if I have to go through another awful experience? With TWO teeth needing crowns today, will it be even worse?

I had also been reading about dental work and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a diagnosis I didn’t have the last time I had a crown, and I was seriously questioning my decision to have the procedure without talking to my doctor first. I’m already experiencing an RA flare – should I prepare for even more pain? I didn’t think about being on an immune suppressant drug. Should I have asked for antibiotics?

With my anxiety increasing as the appointment time grew closer, I wondered if my blood pressure would shoot up and knew that heart palpitations would follow if I didn’t calm down.

I groaned when my name was called and reluctantly sat down in the chair, hastily expressing my concerns to the dental assistant. As she left the room to go check the X-rays and get the dentist, I did something I’ve never done before in a dental office. I folded my hands, bowed my head, and prayed.

Lord, help me trust. Help me trust in the dentist and help me trust in You. Calm my heart, Lord, and give me peace. Take my fear, Lord. Give me the confidence I need to know it will be OK. Guide the dentist and help me feel Your love. Please, Lord, just help me trust.

Gone were the palpitations. Gone was the anxiety. I closed my eyes and pictured Jesus in my mind, His kind eyes and loving smile beckoning me to trust. It will be OK.

An hour later, with the left side of my mouth numb and two temporary crowns on my lower back molars, I was on my way home.

I reflected on that hour in the dentist’s chair. With one invisible touch from the Master’s hand, my fear had simply melted away. With my focus on Him, all I could feel was love and peace and joy. The sound of the drill was just background noise, the occasional twinge just a minor interruption. Before I knew it, the procedure was over.

The dentist had said at the end, “You were great!” But I knew different. I was not great. No, not at all. If he had seen me beforehand, he would have known that. God was great. Jesus carried me through.

How many times in my life has Jesus had to carry me through circumstances I couldn’t manage on my own? Situations that had me confused and bewildered, in fear and doubt and uncertainty? So many, I can’t count. But here’s what I’ve realized: While Jesus has carried me through many difficult situations, He is often carrying me kicking and screaming!

So many times, I have worked myself up into such a tizzy of emotion that I may be saying “God help me!” under my breath, but I am still fighting my circumstances with every ounce of energy I have. Jesus is trying to rescue me out of the burning building, while I am still trying to put out the fire myself!

That hour at the dentist showed me that when I really and truly let go and let God, my circumstances immediately get easier. I still had to have the two crowns put on my teeth. The dental work didn’t just go away. But it proved that the words of one of my most beloved hymns are true:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Every day I have a choice. Will I keep my eyes on my circumstances and allow fear to rule my life, or will I keep my focus on Jesus and allow peace to reign in my heart?

In Isaiah 41:10, God implores us to trust. He is with us. We do not need to be worried or anxious about anything. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.”
What we need is not a change of circumstance. What we need most is communion with Him.
And in case we still doubt, He assures us, “I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Regardless of our past experiences, our current situation or our fear of the future unknown, God wants us to know He is there. He will not let us go. He is worthy of our trust.

Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY about everything. Tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. (Philippians 4:6)

Praying Through the Fear 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Jesus and the Giant Easter Bunny

“Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.” – John 20:18

If you have kids (or even if you don’t but you have pictures of yourself as a young child), you’ll know what I mean when I say that the Easter Bunny has the power to instill terror or delight.

We march them down to the mall, promising them a glimpse of the rabbit that faithfully delivers basketfuls of bright colored eggs and jelly beans each Easter, and we are even willing to wait in long lines to see him. Oh, how exciting this is going to be, we assure them, as they fidget and squirm impatiently.

The moment finally arrives. Bigger than life, at least 10 feet tall with ginormous ears, Mr. B. stands with arms wide open for the children, who we are now pushing gently towards him. They peer up at his giant eyes, bunny nose and whiskers, as he sits down and invites them onto his lap.

“Say bunny!” the photographer cheers. Big sister gives a toothless smile, while little Johnny bursts into tears, fearfully wailing until he can run back into mom’s arms, safely away from the gigantic white furry creature.

Ah, the Easter Bunny. Giver of good gifts. So much fun to contemplate, but the actual encounters come with mixed reviews. And in the end, just a myth that will have no lasting impact other than on our post-holiday waistlines.

So why is it, then, that so many churches have begun offering up the Easter Bunny as the main attraction during Holy Week? While I am not opposed to fun and traditions during holiday times, when did the Bunny get so BIG and Jesus get so small? Why can’t we leave our Easter baskets at home and the Bunny at the mall?

“Come on, lighten up and have a little fun, will you?” I can hear the naysayers say. “Don’t be such a fuddy duddy!”

Fun I can be. Fuddy duddy I am not. But what I really want to shout back is:
The news of Jesus’ resurrection is the biggest news of all! 
How could anything be more exciting than that?
I get marketing. After 20 years in the business, I really do get it! I know that unbelievers don’t understand what the resurrection is or why it’s important. But we as Christians do. Shouldn’t we feel compelled to tell others about just how exciting it really is? And if we know just how impactful it is, why do we need to wrap it up in a shiny package that looks like … well, a giant bunny?

Do you know what the real story of Easter is, that we should be shouting from the rooftops? Unlike Moses, Mohammed, Buddha or any other great prophet or teacher,
Jesus is alive!!
Jesus’ resurrection is what separates Him from all others. It is what says it all about who He is: the only Son of God, with the very power to conquer death; given as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we would have a way to know the Creator of the Universe personally and to have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Unlike the Easter Bunny, Jesus isn’t a myth. Nor is His resurrection. History books confirm that He lived and died, and more than 500 people gave account of seeing the risen Christ.

And while the Easter Bunny brings colorful eggs and candy to delight us on that one special day, Jesus offers abundant life for all the rest of our days. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness, among other things. Who wouldn’t want that? I’d happily trade more than a handful of jelly beans for the life and hope that Jesus brings.

Finally, I’ll take an encounter with Jesus over an encounter with the Easter Bunny any day. With Jesus, there is no fear and no fake smile. Jesus Loves Me isn’t just a song I learned when I was little. It is what I experience every day as I walk with Him.

Jesus loves me when I am up, as well as when I’m down. He has lifted me up from the pit of despair, illness and addiction, and has given me wings to fly. His peace transcends my circumstances and He has been my comfort in the hardest of times. He is the rock I have built my life on, and following in His footsteps has never led me astray. He doesn’t just promise abundant life; He delivers it!
An encounter with Jesus won’t just make your day; it will change your life.
During this Holy Week, my prayer will be for you to find Jesus, who is bigger than any giant Easter Bunny. He is the one you can count on to be there, not just on Easter, but every day. He is the one who proved His love for you on the cross, and then proved His power to give you eternal life when He rose again.

May you be blessed this Easter and always.


Bible Verses to Reflect Upon This Week
* Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13) 
* But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
* God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible … And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:40, 42)

Jesus and the Giant Easter Bunny 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Get Out of the Boat: RA, Religion and Politics

“Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’ ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” – Matthew 14:28-29 (NLT)

“You know, everything would be better if I could just be king of the world,” my husband said with a little grin and a twinkle in his eye.

Ah yes, we all think we know everything there is to know when it comes to politics, right? If only OUR candidate would win the election, then the world would be a better place.

In this particular year, however, there are some of us here in the United States who are scratching our heads, saying to ourselves, “What if none of the candidates represent how I feel or what I think is best for the country?” or “What if we could take some of the best ideas from all of the candidates and use the debates as a learning experience to shape public policy, rather than turning it into a mudslinging contest?”

Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating.

It is the sentiment of people on both sides, I am sure, and even more so for those of us in the middle.

What makes this an interesting election year for me personally is that I am looking at it all with new lenses, through the eyes of a Christian writer and RA blogger. It’s no longer just about me. It’s about you.

You may not realize it, but every time I write a post on Spring Sight, I think about you. 

I think about your struggles with rheumatoid disease and/or other chronic illnesses. I think about the physical pain you have to endure, the uphill battles you fight to find medications that work, and the everyday struggles you face to be understood by others, when you suffer from an invisible illness. I think about how disabling this disease can be for many, and how you struggle with employment issues and all your medical bills. I think about all the doctors you’ve been through to find a good one. I think about the fear you face when the one you found suddenly isn’t a choice anymore.

It’s a quandary, isn’t it? In any political season, there are winners and there are losers. What we want and need may come from two different places, or none at all. What then?

As a Christian, I often find myself asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” 

The Bible is full of God’s commandments and promises, along with stories of followers who learned some lessons through trial and error, discovering in the end (usually the hard way) that God’s way really is best and that He really can be trusted.

If you’re not a biblical scholar, however, it can be difficult to discern the right thing to do in everyday situations if you don’t know where to look. My personal philosophy is to begin with the Ten Commandments and then to jump immediately to the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), which describe in great detail the life and message of Jesus Christ.

In His claim of being the Messiah, the one and only Son of God, Jesus puts Himself out there as the one true representation of God Himself. He specifically says He came not to abolish, but rather to fulfill, the Law of Moses. In other words, if you want to see the Ten Commandments in action, just look at Jesus. 

Jesus boils the Law into two main concepts: Love God and Love Others.

God expects us to honor Him – to place Him at the top of our priority list and to seek His righteousness and holiness in our personal lives – and to demonstrate that we are His followers by sharing His love with other people.

In today’s political climate, it can be tricky to choose sides based upon these foundational principles of Christianity. One side of the political spectrum says religious morality trumps all, and the other side seems to say “live and let live” with compassion and tolerance at the top of the priority list.

Guess what, though? Look at Jesus’ life, and if we were to really choose to be like Him, we wouldn’t be able to pick. He represents holiness and compassion. The same One who makes it clear that we should care for “the least of these” and “do not judge, lest you be judged” is also the One who said “go and sin no more.”

As both a Christian and an RA sufferer, there are numerous issues that are important to me, as I am sure there are for you. And like many Americans, I struggle with the right answer. I am counting on God to keep His promise to grant me wisdom* during this election process, as I look to Jesus as my guide and example of a true leader.

Regardless of the issue or the eventual outcome, however, it would serve us well to remember one key fact: God is love. He will not abandon you.**

This fact is illustrated in Matthew 14, where Jesus’ disciples find themselves in a fierce storm out in the middle of a lake. Tossed around by the huge waves pounding their fishing boat, they are understandably scared and unsure of what to do. Then along comes Jesus, walking on the water. Thinking at first they are seeing a ghost, they are terrified! But then Jesus reassures them, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!”

Reassured by the presence of Jesus, Peter then takes the ultimate leap of faith, stepping out of the boat into the waves, in response to Jesus’ calling for him to come join him.

When Peter chose to keep his eyes on Jesus, his fear disappeared and he was able to step out in obedience.

It was only when Peter took his eyes off the Lord and onto his circumstances that he began to be fearful again and then began to sink.

Even then, however, Jesus did not let Peter drown. Jesus saw Peter’s fear. He saw his lack of faith. He even called him out on it. But the Bible says Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, pulling him to safety. And He didn’t just save Peter. He saved the other disciples too, by quieting the storm.

Today, Jesus is calling us to step out of the boat. No matter what our fears of the future, or the realities of what we are facing right now, we have a choice to make. As we head to the polls during the primaries and again in November, will we keep our eyes on Jesus, or will we look instead at our circumstances and begin to sink? Will we trust God to take care of our needs, so that we can focus on serving the greater good of all? Will we vote with an attitude of “what’s in it for me” or will we instead be sincere in our desire to honor God and love others?

There is no easy answer in this year’s election. I will be reminding myself often to pause and pray. But regardless of what happens, we can be confident that no matter what the outcome, God will still be on the throne. His presence is powerful. His love never fails. And He will never, ever abandon you.

*James 1:5
**1 John 4:8, John 14:18

Get Out of the Boat: RA, Religion and Politics 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, Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart,  and Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday. This week, I am also linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and Dawn at Journeys in Grace.

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