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#81 - 12.3.09


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Don't Miss Our Web Site Updates!
A couple months ago we started moving our web site over to a different format and it's been wonderful, because Lisa is able to update it daily by posting in advance. So even though she is still recovering from hand surgery, the web site has new posts each day! You can get an email with the updated information by just clicking here.

What is the Nicest Things
Someone Has Done for You?
When we are hurting it can be easy to forget the kindness that people have shown us. Or what you have you done for someone lately? We asked you and you shared. Read some of our reader's responses and add your own in the comments section.

Looking for Some Stocking Stuffers?
We've put together a web page in our store at Comfort Zone Books with some of the inexpensive items we think would make great stocking stuffers. Some of the times are cute ornaments, keychains, magnets, pens, charms, and of course, The Clinging Cross, which many people seem to love!

Lisa Copen

Hey there,

Well, I am glad to see you this week! It's always a joy to know you're reading these little tips!

Thank you so much for your e-mails encouragement as I am recovering from joint replacement surgery. I actually took a new photo because I figure you were getting tired of the old one, however, it doesn't really look much different, although. I do actually have some mascara on in this one taken yesterday!

Many of you have asked how the healing and progression is coming. I am hopefully passed the point of being high risk for infection so an extremely relieved that the wound is nearly closed. However, since I am on prednisone-- and even though the surgery was a month ago-- the skin has just recently closed and is still scabbed.

Regarding the 4 new joints, they are healing well, however, the hand therapist said yesterday that due to the prednisone (again) I am healing slowly, so rather than keeping me in the splint for six weeks, she will require that I wear it eight weeks. (Sigh...) So I am feeling a bit disheartened in a way because I thought I had hit the halfway mark this week and instead have five more weeks to go. This also means five more weeks of not being able to drive. So I'm arranging rides for Josh to get home from school, and trying to figure out how I will get to my physical therapist which is 20 miles from my home one-way.

Like many of you despite the fact that I have friends, and they are all very busy with their lives, and busy with "the holidays." It is hard for people to make a 3-hour commitment to drive someone to a therapy 45 minutes away and I understand that. I'm taking one day at a time. My mom leaves to go home Monday, December 14, so we are trying to figure out arrangements for the things I will not be able to do. You may be interested in my most recent blog post today, "Reflections on How People Respond to Visual “Pain” Experiences."

I know I am extremely blessed in what I have been given, however, I am also learning just how difficult it is to be dependent on other people, especially when they have their own lives and are not able to follow through despite their best intentions.

In many ways, I feel this is God's reminder and lesson to me, as I am working on my book for moms with a chronic illness: It is easy to give advice. It is much more difficult to take one's own advice.

Ironically, I wrote this part below a couple months ago as I prepared newsletters in prep for surgery.


I know that this time of year can bring forth a bunch of emotions and not all of them are what we may think of as being "Christian." People may say something that gets under our skin, or maybe we are just pessimistic about all the bell-ringing people in Santa suits and seeing our Lord's birth used as a economy booster. Or just maybe. . . you wish YOU could be volunteering to ring that bell, or even hang out at the mall for a few minutes to buy a dear friend something special and yet you just cannot physically do it.

I hope this article on anger may be something that encourages you.

And just a reminder that since I am the author of the article I can give you full rights to reprint it. You are welcome to post it in your newsletter, blog, web site, etc. Just leave the article and footer "as is." This is one of the ways we spread the words about Rest Ministries!

Is it Okay to Be Angry with God About Your Illness? Find Out!
by Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen"When I was first diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, I was relieved at first," shares Cindy. "So many doctors kept telling me to see a psychiatrist, but I knew it was my body, not my head, that was in trouble." She explains, "I had spent so much time before my diagnosis being mad, having my illness finally validated was a great feeling. But six months later, the anger set in the pain management of the illness seemed to barely exist."

Many people are familiar with the book "On Death and Dying," written by a well-known doctor in Switzerland, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. The book explains how people deal with any kind of loss, but especially that which they face when coping with an illness. It includes a description of the cycle of emotional stages that people go through in dealing with loss. Anger is the third stage, following the stage of shock and denial.

When we are diagnosed with an illness, feeling anger is the most natural reaction. Realizing our dreams may be out of our control now that our body is redefining what is "normal" for us, can be devastating.

Acknowledging these feelings exist and learning how to manage them is part of the mourning process. People have a variety of time frames for each stage of the grief cycle, but sooner or later one will likely enter this phase. Surprisingly your anger may be worst during the third year of the disease than the first.

Says Krista, who lives with chronic fatigue syndrome, "I know that my anger stages come and go. I have been angry at doctors, at God, myself, my church, even my husband and daughter and other family members."

One thing is definite: anger will come. For some people it will be a mild irritation with everything in life, and for others a flaring temper that doesn't seem subside.

"It is my observation," says Linda Noble Topf, author of "You are Not Your Illness," "that the absence of anger in the face of a serious illness suggests that we have already withdrawn from life, that we have relinquished our passion for living, that we are resigned and emotionally numb."

Anger can be seen as something shameful to express, especially if you are a Christian, who has been told that angry emotions are not excused or even "allowed." You may experience some of these feelings:

- If my faith in God is solid, I should trust that He wants what is best for me. Doubting His hand in my circumstances to shows my lack of faith.

- If I reveal to other Christians that I am angry about my situation, won't they think I am weak in my walk with God?

- I know it says, "wise men shouldn't anger" in the Bible. How can I, in good faith, express the emotions that I am feeling?

- I know that anger leads to bitterness. So if I don't acknowledge these feelings I will be a "better Christian" and I won't ever become bitter about life.

All of these thoughts are normal, but that doesn't mean they're correct. By burying our anger and not acknowledging it, we prevent ourselves from moving on to the next phase in the grief cycle, learning how to effectively manage our emotions and our chronic illness.

Here are a few tips to help guide you through the process of dealing with your anger:

1. Are you angry? Acknowledge your authentic feelings and then get on with life.

If you insist on ignoring your emotions, believing that in the end you will be a spiritually healthier person for it, you are wrong. Topf advises, "Think of anger as a resource that you can learn to harness and refine for your own benefit." If you can learn to recognize your anger, it will help you reclaim your authentic identity. Faking it won't take you through this.

The Bible explains how Job got angry about the events in his life and cursed the day of his birth. He said, "Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?" (Job 6:13). In the end though, God blessed Job in many ways and Job told the Lord, "Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful to know" (Job 42:3b). Through his feelings of anger and frustration, character and understanding was built.

2. It is all right to get angry.

God designed us to feel a wide variety of emotions and one of these is anger. There are numerous instances in the Bible where Scripture specifically tells us about how even God got mad. What does the Bible tells about how to cope with our own angry feelings?

- "For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James

- "Wise men turn away anger" (Proverbs 29:8b).

- "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control" (Proverbs 29:11).

God understands that anger is a part of our human instinct, but it should never become our lifestyle. Some people may point out that it takes anger to get things accomplished. Even Mothers against Drunk Drivers seem to have an appropriate acronym of "MADD." Topf says, "We discover that anger is first and foremost a demand for change." Some would argue that the attitude of "I'm-not-going-to-take-it-any-more" has been the beginning of great changes in our history. And this is true, but the key is not to get stuck in that anger phase for the rest of your life.

In Amos 1:11, God says, "I will not turn back my wrath... because his anger raged continually." God understands how we will feel anger, but when we feel it continually, He becomes annoyed. When all of our energy is spent being angry (and it does takes a lot of effort) none of our focus is on Him. We must find a way to use our anger effectively so we can bring God the glory.

3. Walk with God beside you and He will walk with you through your anger.

In the Bible, David experienced this promise and wrote, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me" (Psalm 138:7). God is always waiting for you to stretch out your hand to Him, especially when in anger reigns. He will protect you from using it unwisely.

"I'm still dealing with anger toward this illness, after eight years of being sick," shares a woman who lives with fibromyalgia, Peggy says, "Each time I experience a new limitation, I get angry all over again. But as I learn to cope with living with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, and the limitations it places on my activities, I expect God's perfect grace. I pray that He will become slow to anger, as I am depending on the scripture, 'The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love'" (Psalm 103:8).

Coping effectively with anger will be a challenge we deal with for the rest of our lives. Some of the most vital guidance to cope with it is in a scripture that I point to in my book, "Why Can't I Make People Understand? Discovering the Validation Those with Chronic Illness Seek and Why" where I steer one through emotions of bitterness, jealousy and anger that accompanies illness. Hosea 7:13b-14 says: God says, "I long to redeem [you] but. . . [you] do not cry out to Me from [your] hearts, but wait upon [your] beds." So don't flop down on your bed and wail "Why is this happening to me?" Instead pour out your heart to the Lord and merely ask Him for help.

"Why Can't I Make People Understand?" is author, Lisa's hottest book that will get you through your emotions of anger at <a href=""></a> . Free download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from when you <a href="">subscribe to HopeNotes</a> at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the founder of Invisible Illness Week.

So until next week, may you continue to know that we are here for you to pray for you and offer encouragement of the Lord during this difficult journey.

I know times are difficult right now. Proverbs 15:16 says, "Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil."

Many blessings,

Lisa Copen, Rest Ministries Founder
Rest Ministries Chronic Illness Pain Support

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