Monday, 8 February 2016

Your Friend Has Crohns Disease - Now what

They’re going to depend on you a lot, even more so than they let on.
And it’s not that you have to do anything more than just be a normal friend. The reason they love you is exactly that: you make them feel normal. You bring a sense of routine into their life.
You’re consistent. You’re dependable. You’re something that they understand and you’re something that makes sense, and that’s something they can’t count on in their own body. Their body is a lottery – anything could happen at any moment, and they really have no way of predicting it.
So being around someone like you, someone who makes them feel safe and light and happy, is sometimes better than all the Remicade and Prednisone and Mercaptopurine and Humira in the world. (Although, these magical potions are definitely a plus.)
When you have a disease that, for the most part, is not life-threatening, you feel both incredibly blessed and incredibly lost in terms of what to do. For the most part, there is no short-term, all-consuming, stressful fight to survive, and for that, Crohn’s patients are incredibly grateful.
But the hard part is coming to terms with the fact that, for the rest of your life, you will be fighting through unpredictable periods of ups and downs. Flare ups. Never-ending medical trials, where you’re trying not to get your hopes up but you’re praying that – just maybe – this one will work, at least for now. You’ll try diets and supplements. You’ll have anxiety in all aspects of your life: work, social gatherings, airplanes, vacations, road trips.
Having Crohn’s as a lifelong companion is an unfortunate realization that every patient has to acknowledge. Because, at least for now, there is no cure. Crohn’s is just something that each patient is learning how to work into their life. Something that they’re doing their best to adapt to and to be proactive about, because the last thing they want to do is to spend their life in a vacuum of self-pity.
And that’s where you come in. You bring in a bright light, a feeling of normalcy, a much-needed sense of calmness when they’re on the verge of hyperventilating or having a meltdown or simply feeling like they’re not a match for their own frustration.
They love you for understanding, for being discreet when they need to leave a party or go home early from work or skip out on an event altogether. The fact that they don’t have to explain anything to you is a godsend, and they’ll appreciate it, and you, more than you’ll ever know.
Whether or not you realize it, you’re being one of the most incredible friends in the world, just by being there. Just by providing them with a sense of continuity and regularity. Just by making them laugh and reminding them that, although you’ll never be able to fully relate, you understand that they need you and you know how to remind them that they aren’t alone.

Your normalcy is a gift. Your loyalty is a gift. Your simple presence has the power to put them at ease. You’re a gem. And you’re very much appreciated for it.

Secret Menu

I have food to eat that you know nothing about. 
Meat Mountain is a super-sandwich layered with six kinds of meat. Stacked with chicken tenders, three strips of bacon, two cheeses, and much more, it looks like it should be a restaurant’s featured item.
But Meat Mountain isn’t on any restaurant’s published menu. The sandwich represents a trend in off-menu items known only by social media or word of mouth. It seems that competition is driving fast-food restaurants to offer a secret menu to in-the-know customers.
When Jesus told His disciples that He had “food” they knew nothing about, it must have seemed like a secret menu to them (John 4:32). He sensed their confusion and explained that His food was to do the will of His Father and to finish the work given to Him (v. 34).
Jesus had just spoken to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well about living water she had never heard of. As they talked, He revealed a supernatural understanding of her unquenched thirst for life. When He disclosed who He was, she left her water pot behind and ran to ask her neighbors, “Could this be the Messiah?” (v. 29).
What was once a secret can now be offered to everyone. Jesus invites all of us to trust His ability to satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts. As we do, we discover how to live not just by our physical appetites but by the soul-satisfying Spirit of our God.
Father, we praise You for revealing Your truth to us. Help us live each day in the power of Your Spirit.
Only Christ the Living Bread can satisfy the world’s spiritual hunger.
The Samaritans were descendants of the people of Israel who had been left behind when the Assyrians took the northern kingdom into captivity in the seventh century bc. These Jewish people had intermarried with the Assyrian occupying force and surrounding tribal people, which meant that according to Jewish ceremonial laws their descendants were no longer ethnically pure. As a result, Samaritans were viewed as inferior, making them outcasts from Jewish worship and life. Jesus’s act of reaching out to this Samaritan woman is a wonderful reminder that grace, mercy, and hope do not know ethnic boundaries. Our God loves all people everywhere, and we should also love all people regardless of ethnic differences.

A Smile A Day - February 9th

Three Students Share What They Have Learned - How Do I Speak My Faith

Romans 14: 22 & 23
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.  Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves
But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat because their eating is not from faith and everything that does not come from faith is sin

James 1: 5 & 6
Therefore if you lack wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you
But when you ask you must believe and not doubt because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea tossed and blown by the wind.

2 Corinthians 4: 13 & 14
It is written, I believed therefore I have spoken.  Since we have the same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak
Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to Himself


You know that sharing Christ with your friends is important. But it can also be pretty scary. What do you say? What will they think? These three students want to pass along a few things they've learned about sharing the Good News.

Know the Message

"Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel." (Ezra 7:10)
A few years ago, I had some friends who weren't Christians, but I had no idea how to witness to them. Those friends were really lost. They were caught up in swearing, sex, drugs and whatever else they could find to fill the emptiness of not having Jesus in their lives. If I had known the Bible better a few years ago, I could have tried to help them know Jesus.
When the book of Ezra was written, the Israelites were coming back from Babylon after living as captives. Their children no longer knew God's law. Ezra felt called to help get Israel back on track, but instead of just teaching others about God's law, he spent time studying it himself. He made sure he understood it before trying to tell others about it.
We can all learn a lot from Ezra's example. It's really important that we take time to study God's Word and know it. Then we can be better witnesses to our friends. —Tim
What About You?
1) If someone asked you a tough question about the Bible, would you know how to find the answer?
2) Think of some questions non-Christians might have about God. Then search your Bible and talk with your parents or youth pastor to find some answers.
3) Ask God to help you live out the things you learn as you read your Bible.

Live the Life

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)
One of my friends wasn't a Christian, but she knew I was. Without my knowing it, she was watching me to see what this whole Christianity thing was all about. One day, she told me she'd been paying attention to the way I treated people. She said one of my best traits was that I never hated anyone, or at least never acted like I did.
From that day on, she began to talk to me more about my faith. She was hesitant to become a Christian, but eventually, she gave her life to the Lord!
I feel fortunate that God used me as an example of the love Christians have for other people. Whenever we show our love to our friends and family, we show people that our relationship with Christ is based on love. And there's not a person in the world who doesn't need love.
God tells us to love others so that they'll see his love in us. When we show God's love to people, powerful things can happen. Just ask my friend! —Mindy
What About You?
1) What are some of the ways other Christians have shown you God's love?
2) Think of a person at your school who could use a dose of God's love. What can you do to show love to this person?

3) Ask God to help you love others.
Page 2 of 2

Find a Role Model

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord. … And so you became a model to all the believers . …" (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)
There's a guy in my youth group who is a strong Christian. Lots of people, including me, really look up to him. Whenever I see him do something that shows his love for God, I think, That's so cool! I want to be like that. I've learned a lot from him.
It's great to have a role model, someone who shows you how to live out your faith. That's what my friend does for me, so now I'm trying to do the same thing for other people. I really try to show how important my faith is by how I live and what I say. Now I have the courage to talk to my best friend about God, because I want her to see that my faith really means something. She's not a Christian yet, but I hope she will be soon!
God wants everyone to know him. So if you can be a role model to someone else, do it. And if you need a role model to help your faith grow, find one. Having someone to look up to made a big difference for me. —Rebecca
What About You?
1) Who are some of your spiritual role models? What can you learn from them?
2) Find someone in your family, your church, or your school whose faith you really admire. Ask that person to help you grow in your faith.
3) Ask God to help you find a great Christian role model.

Truth to Share

Other passages to read and study:
Romans 3:23
we've all sinned
Isaiah 64:6
no one is good enough
Romans 6:23
sin separates us from God
Romans 5:6-8
God made a way
Romans 10:9-13
confess and repent
1 John 1:9
God will forgive
2 Corinthians 5:17
he makes you new
Romans 8:38-39
we can't lose his love
Try This!
Write about each passage in a journal or notebook. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
1) What does this passage tell you about salvation?
2) Put this passage into your own words. How does it relate to your own salvation experience?
3) Ask God to enable you to understand what it means to be a Christian and pray for opportunities to share that with others.
4) Do you have questions about what you've read? Write those down. Then ask a Christian friend or youth leader how they would answer your questions. Take note of their answers in your journal or notebook.
5) Using the devotions in "Faith Builders" as models, write your own devotion based on the passage.
The devotions in this section were taken from The NIV Teen Devotional Bible (Zondervan). Featuring 260 devotions written by students, this Bible also offers help for personal and spiritual growth.

What To Do About Crohns Disease Pain

Crohn’s disease hurts.
When it hurts, how much it hurts and what to do about it are all worrisome to patients and their doctors.
I’m fortunate.  For the past two years, I haven’t had much discomfort beyond light cramping and urgency, both of which are associated with short bowel syndrome in patients who have had as much small bowel surgery as I’ve had.
Most patients experience pain from cramping or soreness in specific spots in the abdomen from time to time in addition to other common symptoms like diarrhea.  When I refer to using medication, I’m talking about more than the occasional twinge or five minutes of cramping.
The “gold standard” of using medication for Crohn’s pain says acetaminophen for mild pain.  It steers clear of aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, all of which can aggravate symptoms of the disorder.
Then there’s the other pain.  It’s the sharp stuff patients awaiting surgery sometimes experience.  Before diagnosis, several times a year, I underwent attacks of horrific pain that rolled through my body with each wave of peristalsis.  I invariably ended up in an emergency room every time and didn’t find out partial obstructions caused the pain until diagnosis years later.  I likened the level of pain to that of the worst labor pains it was possible to experience.
Shortly before my first small bowel resection, I was driving with my daughter to the pediatrician’s office.  I suddenly had a pain so sharp that it felt like a football player had kicked me in the gut.  I had to pull off the road.  Fortunately, it subsided, and I was able to continue driving.
This is the kind of situation that makes patients ask about narcotics, which hospitals use to control pain after surgery.   It’s an appropriate question when there are days when it’s impossible to even stand up straight due to pain.  Most doctors are reluctant to issue medications containing narcotics to Crohn’s patients except immediately after surgery.
The reason isn’t profound.  They’re afraid of the danger of addiction.
For at least 10 years, I made a habit of keeping a small amount of a medication with a narcotic in the house.  I simply asked the doctor to prescribe no more than 20 pills, which could be taken every 4 hours, with no refills.  Since I was definitely prone to partial small bowel obstructions, was an experienced patient and had a history with the practice, the gastroenterologist had no problem with this.
I haven’t had any in the house for a couple of years.  Being free of major pain has given me an opportunity to look at other ways to control discomfort.  The first one most patients mention is changing what they eat during challenging times.
Short of a trip to the emergency room, it’s often impossible for a patient with Crohn’s disease to see a healthcare provider the same day discomfort escalates.  In the meantime, one sensible way to help yourself is eliminating anything from your “normal” diet that might irritate the disease even more.  Get the list from your physician before you need it.
My experience with five Crohn’s-related surgeries is that pain can suddenly strike even a couple of months after a procedure.  If this happens, despite the surprise, it’s helpful to remain calm and place a call to the doctor to report what happened.  Every pain that’s associated with Crohn’s disease doesn’t necessitate a trip to the ER.
Patients also talk a lot about reducing stress.  Lest there be any confusion in that statement, stress does notcause Crohn’s disease.  It can aggravate any major illness, including Crohn’s.
The stress I’m talking about is the one associated with tensing of the body during pain.  It’s worth taking the time for a couple of sessions on meditation, deep breathing and other techniques that will help the body relax, which helps lessen the impact of pain.

Article written by Vonda Sines

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Can't Take It Back

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
I couldn't take my actions back. A woman had parked her car and blocked my way of getting to the gas pump. She hopped out to drop off some recycling items, and I didn't feel like waiting, so I honked my horn at her. Irritated, I put my car in reverse and drove around another way. I immediately felt bad about being impatient and unwilling to wait 30 seconds (at the most) for her to move. I apologized to God. Yes, she should have parked in the designated area, but I could have spread kindness and patience instead of harshness. Unfortunately it was too late to apologize to her—she was gone.
Many of the Proverbs challenge us to think about how to respond when people get in the way of our plans. There’s the one that says, “Fools show their annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). And “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel” (20:3). Then there’s this one that goes straight to the heart: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end” (29:11).
Growing in patience and kindness seems pretty difficult sometimes. But the apostle Paul says it is the work of God, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). As we cooperate with Him and depend on Him, He produces that fruit in us. Please change us, Lord.
Make me a gentle person, Lord. One who doesn’t quickly react in frustration to every annoyance that comes my way. Give me a spirit of self-control and patience.
To study more about the fruit of the Spirit, read the Discovery Series booklet Live Free by Constantine Campbell.
God tests our patience to enlarge our hearts.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes fourteen references to the Holy Spirit. Believers receive the Holy Spirit through faith the moment they believe (3:2–3, 5, 14). Believers are born of the Spirit (4:29), which qualifies them to call God “Abba, Father” (4:6). In today’s passage Paul warns that the flesh continues to resist the indwelling Spirit (5:17), but the key to victory is to walk in (or by) the Spirit (vv. 16, 25). Only in this way can a believer overcome the limitations of the flesh and live in a way that pleases God.

A Smile A Day - February 8th