"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

My Year to Bloom with Grace

by - Thursday, January 16, 2020

Well, here I am at the beginning of my fourteenth year with illness. I made it through my thirteenth, just. I’m bruised, battered and broken but I made it. 2019 was challenging in ways words can’t describe. 
I made the difficult decision to stop hormone therapy due to severe side effects and then survived a horrendous cocktail of withdrawal symptoms such as a debilitating flare-up of bone pain in my dominant hand, suicidal thoughts and depression. If I’m honest, last year was a living hell. 
I hoped that 2019 would be the year God would finally heal me, but here I am weary and feeling disappointed that I’m back to bleeding three weeks of the month and struggling with a chronic migraine relapse while trying to pull my mental health out of a ditch that hormone therapy kicked there and left for dead.

It’s easy to just let myself drown in a pool of sorrow about all the things I didn’t achieve and lost last year because of illness; to focus on what I still don’t have and how overwhelmingly far I have to go. Sure, I didn’t receive the healing I was hoping for, but everything I achieved despite all the difficulties of last year is a miracle in some way.
I sat out in nature and handed over my fears, doubts and dreams to God. I worked on craft projects, completing gifts for family and friends. I continued going to church semiregularly, persevering through bad pain and anxiety. I was a blessing to my parents by taking good care of Tilly while they were on holiday. I made the most of my good days and relished chats with friends over coffee and cake. I nourished my body with healthy meals and smoothies. I picked myself back up after having my hopes shattered.
I made massive changes and took risks like changing my blog’s name and template, and I kept a promise to myself — to stop hiding away at home ashamed of my story. I put myself out there and have lived a more open, authentic life. I sewed my tattered self-esteem back together and made progress healing from church hurt. 

I chose brave. I chose fierceness. I chose strength. I chose joy. I created an extraordinary life with chronic illness. This is an amazing achievement and a miracle to celebrate. 


And now, heading into the new year I’ll continue to hope, to dream, to let go with wild abandon and bloom where God has planted me.
Bloom is my word for this year. 
I used to think finding a theme for guidance throughout the year was silly, corny, and even a little cliche. But when a link for DaySpring’s Word of the Year popped up on my Facebook feed I felt oddly compelled to try the quiz. I was curious to see what word it gave me, though I was half expecting something ridiculous to laugh at.
When the word bloom came up, I was taken aback. It’s a word I feel God wants me to latch on to this year and I really believe that 2020 is my year to bloom with grace where He has planted me.
It’s my year to bloom in the church He has called me to. My year to thrive in the gifts He has graciously given me. My year to use my story to be a blessing and a source of light and encouragement to others. My year to flourish in vulnerability. My year to blossom more beautifully in the soil of chronic illness. My year to be the woman God created me to be — fierce and unstoppable in following where He leads. My year to disperse the fragrance of God's love, joy, and perfect peace. 
It’s my year to water, nourish, harvest. It’s my year to grow stronger and prosper with grace and boldness.
God has planted me in the soil of chronic illness in this season of my life for a purpose. I was not planted here by accident. I was not planted here to lie dormant or for my leaves to wither and fall to the ground. I was not planted here for my roots to rot or for my harvest to be destroyed. God planted me here to spring up into an exquisite flower. I was handpicked by Him because He knows I am the perfect flower to withstand the harsh and stormy climate. I am tough enough to survive the hardships of an arduous winter.
The farmer knows that overcoming dense clay soil is optimal for my growth. And so from these seeds of God’s greatness I will sprout and grow. I’ll make the best of these challenging conditions. I’ll drink from His promises and let them nourish my weary leaves and give strength to my weakened roots.
I’ll bloom, abundantly. A bountiful harvest I will reap.
An area I feel God is specifically calling me to bloom in this year is writing. 2020 is my year to write. There, I declared it. I’m reluctant to declare this given my current health situation, but it’s a feeling I can’t shake.
Anyone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will know how crazy this is. ME/CFS affects cognitive function making thinking, writing, reading, and comprehension excruciatingly painful and impossible at times. Sometimes it can take me hours to formulate a paragraph and some blog posts take me months to write. Even a social media post can take days to put together. 
I often have trouble recalling common words and I keep losing my train of thought. There are many days when writing exacerbates my mental fatigue and brain fog, and triggers eye pain which can impede my ability to drive, attend to light housework, watch Netflix shows and go to church.
This declaration also seems nonsensical considering my migraines and headaches have become more frequent and more intense again. I don’t feel like writing a sentence when my head and entire face is pounding with pain.
But as much as writing is hell for me it’s also my sanctuary, my lifeline. I feel like there’s a lot that God wants me to write about this year. 
Given my old little laptop malfunctioned last year I questioned God on how this could be my year for writing. 
Um, hey God, how is it going to be my year for writing when I don’t have a laptop to work from bed on bad days and getting a new one is a financial stretch? 
I’m grateful for my desktop computer but it’s often impractical for chronic pain and just plain limiting when I want a choice of where and when I want to write.
Amazingly God heard my frustration and provided. (I don’t know why I’m surprised, He’s always looking after me with stuff like this.) In the Boxing Day sales I came across a laptop online that was well under budget. Like it was too good to be true. I ventured in store to check it out to find it wasn’t on display but was assured it was like one that was. I really liked the one on display, I was eyeing it off upon first entering the store but financially it was out of reach. Considering the one I was looking at online was far cheaper and the next best thing, I went with that one.
Turns out the display laptop I liked was the same discounted one I was looking at online, the signage specifications weren’t correct. The sales guy didn’t even know until he went to grab the one I was after and scanned it. ''OH, OH THIS IS THAT ONE!'' he yelled at me. I think he was more excited than me.
It was so weird wanting a laptop I couldn’t have that turned out to be the one I could have. This laptop is totally a God thing. I’m taking it as confirmation that this is my year for writing.
Writing my way into 2020.
I can write outside in the sunshine again. I can even write my way through a bad pain night comfortably in bed if I want to. I can write at my favourite cafes while sipping on a soothing fat mug of chai. No more being chained to a desk; I’m free. It’s heavenly.
So, new year, a new laptop. I’m ready to write. 
I will write.

I will write until the grief’s well-baked from raw, until my heart is no longer shattered in a million pieces on the floor.
I will write in darkened hallways at the midnight hour until beastly shadows dance away with daylight.
I will write until my fingers seize up with pain and waltzing with words no longer makes me feel sane.
I will write through the scorching flames of broken dreams until I rise from the ashy rubble of heartbreak, bandaged with new dreams, hopes, and blessings gleaned.
I will write when hope has sunken into the deepest blackest valley until it ascends with the sweetest crack of dawn.
I will write in muddy trenches until ceasefire mends rickety fences and my clothes are stained a triumphant shade of red from all the truth that I have bled.
I will write until the well of despair is dry and my soul stripped bare; surrendering my cuts, bruises, scars, secrets, shame, I will write until there’s no more pain.
I will write. I will break. I will bleed. I will mend. I will heal. I will rise.

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