Press On

“I can’t take it anymore!”

Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. I usually spend those days off and on in a puddle of tears. And all the Little Debbie snack cakes I pull from the stash in our closet can’t make it better.

Runners call it “the wall.” In marathons it happens within the final few miles.  They say you feel like you’re running on empty and have nothing left. But the runners who just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t give up finish the race.

In childbirth, they call it transition. After hours of labor, the contractions are so intense that mom feels she’s not up to the task. When she cries out, “I can’t do this,” that’s a sure sign that baby’s almost here.

In fact, when I was laboring with our first baby, I remember saying those exact words. After he was born, I thought: This. Will. Be. Our. Only. Child. Because I can never do that again. Yet, I labored again 3 years later when our little girl was born. And I must’ve said “I can’t do this” a hundred times before she arrived.

All of these examples show us we can endure more than we think.  I look at our current life circumstances and wonder—how are we going to make this work for years ahead? I’m completely overwhelmed at the prospect. Yet I felt the very same way when Michael’s health struggles began seven years ago. And here we are, still moving forward.

Several of our friends and family members have endured sickness and hardship for decades. I’ll bet they were overwhelmed at the beginning of their journey, too. We marvel at how they persevere faithfully after so much suffering.

When we feel like we can’t go on, how do we press on?

I think there are three keys to long-term endurance in the midst of intense difficulty.

  1. Don’t think too far ahead. Forget about the miles in front of you, the hours of labor, or the years of struggle. Only focus on putting one foot in front of the other,  living through the next moment without quitting or losing your mind. Even Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

2. Take a break. When Elijah got to the end of his rope, he begged God, “Please, just kill me already” (1 Kings 19 paraphrased). God replaced his despair with truth, gave him rest, and fed him a meal.

3. Trust. The Bible says that God’s grace is sufficient for whatever each day holds.  Paul told the Corinthians, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8) Whether your day is filled with struggle or offers some welcome relief, He can give you what you need to keep going.

So the next time you say to yourself “I can’t take it anymore!” don’t look at the long road ahead. (And for goodness sake, put down those Little Debbies!) Focus only on the next moment. Give yourself a break. And know that He will help you press on.

A Life-Giving Home for Chronic Illness

I’ve been reading a fantastic book called The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson. It’s really stirred my mind to think about how to create an atmosphere of beauty, love, acceptance, joy, and refuge, even in our small, ordinary, tightly packed spaces.

When your life is filled with some discouraging prospects, when you can’t leave the house much due to your health condition, or when a lot of suffering takes place there, what can you do to counter a spirit of hopelessness in your home?

Environment makes a bigger difference than we might think.

Waiting On The Lord

Have you ever waited on something for a long time? Something you not only wanted, but felt you really needed?

Michael and I have done a lot of waiting these last seven years, and we’ve seen a lot of God’s provision. Sometimes we have what we need before we even know we’re going to need it! Other times, provision comes just in the nick of time. And we’ve occasionally experienced the relief and thrill of seeing something long-desired finally come to fruition.

God’s Purpose Prevails

Most Wednesdays my mom and Michael take our two-year-old daughter, Eden, to the park. This past week my mom asked, “Edie, do you want to go to the park today?”

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“Maybe…it’s possible…if Daddy’s feeling better…” her tiny voice answered.

We should have that line engraved on a plaque and embroidered on a pillow—it’s the way we live our lives. So much hangs in the balance, waiting on Michael’s chronic illness to tell us what we can and can’t do each day. Even at two years old, her little mind has picked up on it.

Wise Words for Caregivers

If you’ve been following our posts for the last few weeks, you know that we’ve based our latest blog series on Michael and Margaret Robble’s book Always Sick, Always Loved: Hope for Families Living with a Chronic Illness. The Robbles’ 25 years of experience in marriage, family, and spiritual growth during Margaret’s long-term sickness give them great credibility on these topics.

In today’s post, let’s talk about taking care of the caregiver.

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In one of my favorite parts of Always Sick, Always Loved,  Michael Robble tells of a memorable phone call he received from his sister:

Grit, Grace & New Friends

I would never claim to fully understand the chronic illness experience. But after living six years with a chronically ill husband, I can’t help but see some parallels between long-term sickness and natural childbirth.

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When I was pregnant with our son, I attended extensive birthing classes, learned relaxation techniques,  and even had regular chiropractic adjustments so I would be well-aligned for the smoothest possible delivery. When the big day came, these measures helped me to cope well up to a certain point—even while laboring in rush hour traffic through downtown! But as it became more physically intense, everything I learned just flew out the window. I was in agony and nothing helped.  Our sweet Lincoln made his entrance into the world just by sheer grit and the grace of God!

Finding Refreshment to Stay the Course

Continually dealing with illness can be discouraging and exhausting. You may be regularly putting out fires while jumping from one crisis to another, or simply enduring persistent pain—which offers its own brand of wear-out. We all know the chronic illness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. So how can we keep ourselves going for the long-haul?

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Whether you are the one who is ill or the caretaker, here are some ideas:

How to Build a Chronic Illness Support System

As you endure chronic illness or the illness of someone you love, where do you find support? Who helps you to keep going and persevere? We all need someone to turn to when we feel like we’ve reached our end.

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Family Support

For us, we receive tremendous support from family. I’m so grateful for this because I know it’s not the case with many others who are consumed by ongoing sickness. Many chronic illness sufferers have been abandoned by exasperated spouses or let down by family members who have written them off as hypochondriacs. Some just don’t want to be affected by someone else’s suffering. It’s a devastating experience for many who feel forsaken by those they need most.