Life in LADA land

Living Philippians 1:6 with type 1.5 diabetes

Sabbatical twists

Life is unpredictable.  I started sabbatical with thoughts of long unstructured days that would be pretty much at my disposal to do whatever I wanted.  Ha!  If only……

Don’t get me wrong, it has been wonderful to take a step away from my usual life and enjoy the slower pace of living in the country.  Just the environment has caused me to relax.  But, God does have  a way of de-railing my plans.

My Dad, who has been struggling with dementia for the better part of at least 15 years, took a sudden turn for the worse a few weeks ago and after a little over a week, he passed away peacefully. My two brothers and I were there with my mom, and I am so thankful that I was close by through his hospitalization and then transfer to hospice care.  God knew the timing, and He was so obviously present all during the weeks before and since Dad’s death, even in the fact that my blood glucose numbers were better during the week of the funeral than they have been in months.  That was a huge blessing, and a total surprise considering how little exercise I was getting and how badly we were eating.

And now we are back home in Cincinnati, catching up on work here, and preparing for a postponed wedding shower we were to have had the week of the funeral.  Two months of sabbatical are gone, only 4 left to go.  I am having to adjust my expectations so that I do not set myself up for disappointment.  I would like to think that I am prepared for this and will just accept that whatever I am able to accomplish during sabbatical will be enough. That needs to be true.  But expectations are powerful and can set me up for regret.  I need to remember that my ultimate satisfaction comes from being in Christ, and that the rest is gravy.  When we return to Illinois, I am praying that it will be with renewed appreciation for the time we have left there, rather than panic at looking at all that I had hoped to accomplish.

And, not for nothing, but a new, fun haircut has given me a happy boost. It’s the little things that lighten the days!

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Family and Focus

This past weekend we had the privilege of having both of my brothers and sisters-in-law here, and my mom came over from her assisted living residence. On Friday night we had a bunch more family come over for dinner, and my kids were also here so it was quite a crowd! SO much fun. I realized how precious family is – and what a blessing it is to be able to have this time to bring everyone together here. We have become the hub of my dad’s side of the family, since all of his siblings are now gone. We ate and talked and ate some more and everyone seemed to be sorry to see it end late in the evening.

We all teamed up and did a lot of work outside on Saturday trimming trees and bushes, washing the house, clearing out stuff from the garage and under the deck and other tasks. Many hands did indeed make lighter work! The results speak for themselves:
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You can now actually see the house as you drive in.  You cannot see all of the work on the garage and deck that we did, but suffice it to say that it was totally worth all the sweat!

One of the things I have noticed about life out here is the lovely sounds that surround us. Birdsong – LOTS of it, frogs croaking, wind in the trees, cows mooing occasionally (though I must say they are remarkably silent…..), rain on the sunporch roof and the occasional dramatic thunderstorm, the distant sound of cars going over the rumble strips near Route 1, and more. It’s as if when I pull into the drive, my whole body just relaxes as I let these sounds wash over me.

I am so blessed to be able to choose what to do each day. I begin each day doing some housework project. I am trying to do some preliminary work to prepare the house for eventual sale – once my mom realizes that is what needs to happen.  Preparations for J and D’s wedding in September, knitting (high on my priority list!), reading (and the stack of books grew at TGCW18), and getting back into sewing are just some of the things that fill my afternoons.  My quiet times in the morning are long and leisurely. God is blessing that time with the richness of His Word and of the words of others. I am finally reading Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret as part of my devotions, and it is so inspiring and encouraging. And convicting. From his example, I realize how distracted I have been in the past year or so.  My mind has not been able to settle on one thing for very long, and I am hopeful that this time in the country will allow me to re-learn the art of concentration and focus.

And perhaps one of the best things of all is that diabetes seems to be fading into the background of my life rather than occupying TOO much of my time and energy.  Part of that is the less sedentary life I am leading – housework, long walks along the roads nearby and gardening are now routine. As a result, blood sugar management seems easier and I am not so stressed out by sudden rises or drops in my numbers. I am surprised by this, but it has made me realize that I have been stressing myself out way too much over short term blood sugar changes.  I really want this to be a long term change that sticks.

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Life in the country continues to change me.  I look forward to what God is going to do over the coming months.

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Hope

A friend asked me this week how my Christian faith affects how I deal with diabetes.  It seemed like a question I should have thought about a lot, but it turns out that I haven’t. I have thought  lot about what I am learning about God and my relationship with Him due to the daily unpredictability of diabetes, and so how diabetes affects my faith. But turn that question around – how does my faith inform my thinking and dealing with diabetes? – and I was stumped.

So, this is my attempt to work that out. I am leading a Bible study of the book of 1 Peter. Peter talks a lot about suffering and how our hope in Christ is the key to holding on to our faith while we suffer.  He emphasizes the precious nature of our salvation too, to underscore that holding on to faith is worth the trouble.  There is also a  troubling verse: In this, (the living hope that is being kept in heaven for us), you rejoice, though now or a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7

Two things strike me from these verses that relate to how my faith affects my life with diabetes.  First, if necessary.  God has deemed it necessary that I deal with this. I trust in the sovereignty of God as well as in the perfect goodness of God. That means that I believe type 1 diabetes was no surprise to Him, and that He has a good purpose for me in it.  And that good purpose is the second point: The goal of my having diabetes is that the tested genuineness of my faith will result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus returns.

This goal then informs how I cope with crazy roller coaster blood sugars, or the emotional roller coaster that goes along with that, or the exhaustion or burn-out or frustration of not knowing why my body is acting the way it is.  It is more important that I honor Christ in all of this than whether my management of diabetes is perfect (which it NEVER will be).

The other thing that 1 Peter is teaching me is that honoring Christ begins in my mind.  Controlling my feelings and my actions begins with a mind that is turned toward Christ. I need HIM to steer me away from self-pity and toward thinking about His suffering on my behalf. I need Christ to show me that there is glory in suffering, in sharing a tiny bit of what He suffered.  I need Christ to help me persevere when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and just quit trying to manage a disease that does not want to be managed.

Having faith in that Christ means that I have hope.  Hope that I am never alone in my walk in this world. Hope that He is always faithful to give me what I need when I need it. Hope that He is faithful to forgive when I need it, and to restore me to Himself so that I can move on. Hope in Christ is not just for heaven. It is for this moment, for every time I feel like a failure and that I will never get it right.

Hope in Christ.  That is how faith affects my life, not just in dealing with diabetes, but in every part of it.  It is just more obvious that I need that hope to cope with the ups and downs of diabetes.  Maybe that’s why it is necessary that I am being grieved by this particular trial………..

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