Friday, March 9, 2018


Tired? Let me tell you about tired. The past fourteen years, tired is the defining trait of my life. I wake up tired, I go through the day tired, I go to bed tired. It doesn't matter how long I sleep, I don't wake up refreshed and rested. It's one of the hallmark traits of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). This is not a "sleepy" tired - this is every muscle in your body feeling like it's just done an IronMan. It's feeling like you weigh 500 pounds, so that even getting dressed is a strenuous workout. It's being so fatigued, that you can't take a shower every day - even using a shower chair - because you just don't have the energy. 

Tired? I don't remember what it feels like to NOT be tired.

[This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up.]

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Acceptance Doesn't Mean Giving Up

I think one of the hardest things in life is learning to accept things as they are, instead of moaning about them and feeling frustrated because "This shouldn't have happened to me!" And then also learning that acceptance doesn't mean giving up. Let me give you an example from my own life.

All my life, I was an athlete, competing in any sport that I could. I honestly don't remember a time when I didn't consider myself an athlete. I competed in all the sports I could find during school and college. After leaving college, I continued to compete in a variety of sports, and working out daily was just part of my life. But then, at age 47, I was struck down by an illness that took all of that away. And by age 56 I was totally disabled and unable to work, and can now barely take care of myself. It was a huge blow to what I had hoped and planned for my life, and it was certainly unfair that it happened! I mean, I was super healthy, ate right, didn't smoke, didn't drink, never did drugs. And yet everything I loved about my life was taken away from me by some stupid disease! All my hopes and dreams were shattered. I was, understandably, quite upset about it all. But through lots of counseling sessions, I came to realize that this new life was my life. I had to learn to adjust to a "new normal" - a life where I have to be so careful with my energy expenditure that I can't shower every day, and I need to limit outings to no more than twice a week. This was my life. It served no purpose for me to keep thinking "But I used to be able to work out 3 hours a day!" Or, "I used to be able to clean the whole house in one go!" Or, "This shouldn't have happened to me!" I had to face facts - I was disabled, and that was now normal for me. I had to accept my new normal. Once I accepted this, I was freed from the comparison game - "But I used to be able to..." and freed from bitterness at the unfairness of it all. I could move forward with life, as best I could, given my new normal.

But - and this is vitally important - accepting my new normal didn't mean I gave up on finding a diagnosis or treatment. It took almost 13 years, but I did finally get a diagnosis, and I am finally on a treatment that is beginning to work. I also didn't give up on finding a purpose for life, and finding joy in life. I just had to pursue these things differently. Instead of finding joy in a great workout, I found joy in a great cup of coffee, or snuggling by the fire, or reading a good book. I found a purpose in becoming a supporter and encourager for others who are facing hard times (hence this blog). I continued to grow spiritually, by reading a wide variety of religious teachers and learning the ways of contemplative prayer. I started meditating, which continues to teach me how to better respond to emotions. In short, I accepted my new life, but I didn't give up on life in general. I decided that since I was going to be sick, I might as well make the best of it. Even if I couldn't get better, I didn't have to get bitter.

So, maybe you're facing health issues, or you have financial problems, or you just feel stuck in a rut. And you think that it's all unfair and you shouldn't be dealing with these problems. And maybe you're right. But you are! The problems are real. And the sooner you accept that the problems exist, and stop comparing your current life with your old one (or with other people's lives), and stop complaining about how unfair it all is, the sooner you can learn to either deal with those problems (if they're fixable) or learn to live despite the problems (if they aren't fixable). Accept reality for what it is, and you're on the road to wholeness.* Accept your new normal, but don't give up on life!

*Note I said "on the road to wholeness" not that everything will be immediately hunky-dory! It takes work to find acceptance and to move forward. But acceptance is the first step.

[This post also appears on my new blog, "Coach Kris"]

Friday, October 20, 2017


Waiting. I have become something of a professional in this, for I have been waiting to be healed for almost 14 years now. When I first became ill, in November of 2003, I thought it was just some kind of virus, and I’d be back to full health in a week or two. But the weeks stretched on and on, and soon became months, and then years, and I was still waiting to be well. Appointments with doctor after doctor resulted in nothing. No one knew what was wrong, and still I waited. And even now, after finally getting a diagnosis and beginning a treatment, I am continuing to wait. In fact, after my car accident set me back to my worst levels ever, the healing seems to be even further away. 

So, I wait. 

But what I have learned about waiting, is that it is not a passive thing. Well, it can be passive, where one simply sits and tries to have hope, but that results in discouragement, when there seems to be no progress. If I just sit back and look at my years of illness behind me, and look ahead to more years of illness, the waiting brings no hope. So I have learned to wait in trust. I make the decision to be an active part of the waiting process, not a passive observer. I trust God to be with me during the wait, to be by my side, holding my hand, caring for me and guiding me, even when I don’t see the path. I am working with God in this time of waiting. This kind of waiting is definitely not passive, indeed, it requires much effort, mentally and spiritually. I have to decide, each and every day, whether I believe God and trust God, or I sit back in my own understanding, and despair.

Waiting in trust results in peace and hope. I have peace, because I know God is with me. I have hope, because I know God is guiding me. This kind of waiting is not always easy - some days I feel like I just don’t have the strength to keep going. But when those days come, I fall back to the foundation, which is God. I remind myself that God is love and God is good. Those are truths I know in the deepest part of my being, so I can always fall back to that foundation, and know that the trust will naturally proceed from there. 

Besides, I’m not really a passive type of person. It is not in my nature to just sit back and wait passively! So, each day I decide: today I will trust. And though I still wait, I wait in hope.

This post is part of the synchroblog on waiting, to celebrate the release of Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow – out now. See more here and link up to the synchroblog here.

Friday, October 6, 2017


Everyone has a story, but in the hustle and bustle of life, we tend to forget that. The woman who just cut you off in traffic? She's a single mom, working two jobs, and she's afraid her oldest boy is experimenting with drugs. She's at the end of her rope, desperate for help, but feels all alone. That checker in the grocery store who didn't greet you with a smile? He's desperately trying to save enough money to go to college, but the boss keeps cutting back his hours. He feels trapped. That little old lady walking sooo slowly across the intersection, making you wait an extra 5 seconds before driving on? Her husband recently died, and she's afraid she can't live by herself any longer, but she still devotes her free time to knitting gloves and hats for the homeless.

If we could see each person's story, then maybe we would realize that we are all connected, and we all share one core story: we are each just trying to do our best in a sometimes cruel and harsh world. So, the next time someone tries your patience, take a step back, look at them as a real person, and realize that they are just like you. Then smile and wish them well. You'll feel better for it, and so will they. And that's no small achievement in this world!

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


When you are chronically ill, you learn a lot about dependence. Because you can no longer depend on your own body or strength. Before I became ill, I was quite self-sufficient. I was physically strong, and could easily handle tasks that others might have found difficult, such as stacking wood or moving furniture. Now that I am ill, simply getting dressed is tiring!

So, since I can no longer depend on myself, whom do I depend on? Well, pretty much everyone else! First of all, I depend on my husband. He does all the household chores, inside and out. He buys groceries. He picks up my - numerous - prescriptions. He walks the dog. He brings in firewood for me. He pretty much does it all - and, bless him, he never complains! (Yes, I'm married to the perfect man - sorry, ladies!)

I also depend on my friends. Since driving is physically taxing, I depend on friends to take me to all of my medical appointments: physical therapy, massage, mental health counseling, etc. It makes a huge difference when I can get a ride, as it saves me so much energy! I also depend on my friends to pray for me. Their support and encouragement is something I cherish. I really do have great friends!

Of course, mostly, I depend on God. It is God's strength that keeps me going, day after day after day. Being chronically ill is hard, both physically and mentally. But I have learned that God is with me, even on the bad days - especially on the bad days! God carries me through. God holds me. God catches my tears when I cry. God gives me the strength to carry on.

My chronic illness has taught me many things, but one of the most important things is that I know whom I can depend on!

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!

Tips for Traveling for a Medical Appointment

When you are chronically ill, traveling can be difficult. But you often need to travel to see specialists. This is an article I wrote for The Mighty, an advocacy site for people with disabilities. I hope it is helpful.

Tips for Traveling for a Medical Appointment

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dear White Christian Evangelical

Dear White Christian Evangelical - let’s talk about something that I know is near and dear to your heart: the pro life movement. I know that many of you feel very strongly about this issue, and I imagine that many of you have even marched in protests for this very issue. So, let’s do a little thought experiment, shall we? Let’s imagine that your church has banded together with many other churches in your city to march in a protest on Pro Life Sunday. 

You get permits from the city to block streets and for permission to march through the streets, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. So, bright and early that Sunday morning, you gather with hundreds of your fellow believers. There are choirs providing music, people carrying pro life signs, and a general feeling of pride that you are standing up for something you believe in. The time comes for the march to begin, and you start walking through the streets, which are typically full of cars this time of day. But the police have blocked off the intersections, and are standing guard to make sure no one interferes with your right to protest. You feel good about that, too, and even smile and thank the police, even though you know some of them might not be pro life. But you don’t worry about that, you just keep marching. 

Then, let’s suppose you turn a corner and see an angry crowd of counter-protesters. One of them walks up to you and says, “Why don’t you like cars? What do you have against people who drive on the streets???” 

You’re a little confused by this, but you reply, “We are marching agains abortion, not cars or drivers.”

The man replies, “No, you’re obviously protesting cars and drivers! Look, you’ve blocked off the streets, preventing people from legally driving there. I pay taxes to support the roads and to allow people to drive! You hate cars and drivers!”

You think to yourself that this man is kind of a loony, but you want to be clear, so you try again: “No, I’m not against cars and drivers! I have a car and I drive. This protest is about abortion!”

The man comes right back at you with “Abortion has nothing to do with blocking the streets and preventing drivers from legally driving on them! You hate cars and drivers! Your protest is against cars and drivers!!”

Now you’re really getting mad. You know why you’re protesting! Everyone in the march knows why they are protesting! It’s about abortion! So you try telling him this one more time, but he still doesn’t listen. “You’re protesting cars and drivers!” he retorts, vehemently.

Realizing you can’t make him understand, you move along, and you all finish your march. But the next day, the news is full of stories about all these people who are protesting cars and drivers. They interview people on the streets, who are all angry that you want to deny them the right to drive on public streets. The story gains national attention, and suddenly the president chimes in, calling you all “Anti-American SOB’s!! Streets are made for cars!!” 

You think, “But, but, we aren’t protesting cars and drivers! It’s about abortion! Can’t they see that? Aren’t they listening?? We know what we are protesting, and it’s not cars and drivers!!”

Ok, end of the thought experiment. Do you get my point, yet? Just in case it is beyond you, let me be perfectly clear - this is exactly the situation with the NFL protests. These players are not against the military or the flag. They have stated that over and over. Many, many veterans and current military have spoken out in support of these protesters’ right to fee speech. And the players have also been perfectly clear as to what the protests are about: police brutality against people of color. Maybe you should believe them, instead of trying to put your words in their mouths. #TakeAKnee #BlackLivesMatter