I was one of many Arkansans to contract the flu this past winter.
Thankfully I was also among those to survive it.
In the latest report by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) March 27 since Oct. 1 2017 more than 52600 positive influenza tests have been reported to the agency’s online database by health care providers across the state.
In week 12 (ending March 24) 37 counties reported influenza cases with the majority of reports coming from Pulaski White Benton Jefferson Independence Sebastian Craighead Faulkner Washington Desha and Greene counties.
To date 205 influenza-related deaths have been reported in Arkansas this flu season 200 adults and five children the ADH reported.
The death toll in Arkansas is one of the deadliest on record since the ADH began tracking flu deaths in 2000.
For me it is one of the first times – if not the first time – I recall having a severe bout of the flu and it was downright ugly.
I not only felt lousy but also couldn’t breathe or carry on normal activities of life.
That’s not good for a newspaper editor who has a constant stream of deadlines to meet.
I was so sick that I missed attending the annual meeting of the Association of State Baptist Publications Feb. 12-15 in Galveston Texas where I was installed as president of the organization for 2018-19.
However for me God used the time I was down with the flu to direct my attention on several important matters.
When you are lying around feeling miserable you don’t want to do much of anything. It sounds fun to be home and watch an endless stream of movies TV shows and such but that’s not me.
Uninterrupted downtime for me leaves lots of time to think and to pray.
One of the things I pondered at length was the state of the world and my responsibility in making Jesus Christ known to those who are lost and dying without Him.
That conviction led me to realize my health for the task yet ahead – with current flu circumstances notwithstanding – wasn’t the best.
As a longtime sinus and allergy sufferer I decided to have sinus reconstruction surgery about a year ago in an attempt to address ongoing chronic issues.
While the surgery has definitely helped my condition – along with ongoing steroid maintenance treatments – I still haven’t felt my best.
Just like a holistic approach to faith I decided to investigate a holistic approach to my sinus and allergy condition.
Listening to the advice of others and by reading numerous articles I ran across information on the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Processed food appears to be the biggest culprit so over the past six weeks or so I have eliminated most all of them – opting for healthier choices that include lots of vegetables greens lean meats and such. It is an approach that has been advocated by those with autoimmune diseases that result in rheumatoid arthritis depression and chronic fatigue – among other health issues. As a part of my new way of eating (I don’t call it a diet) I have largely eliminated refined sugars gluten and dairy from my diet. So far the results are very promising.
– After being physically weak following the flu I now find myself having energy at the end of the workday – rather than having the desire to head for the couch.
– I have lost weight.
– I am more mentally focused.
While I occasionally find myself longing for sweets or bread my new way of eating and seeing food as a tool to better health has me sticking with my goal to eliminate the causes of inflammation in my body.
Another positive outcome is that God is using this time to refocus my attention to the task at hand – furthering His mission on earth through my personal ministry and through the work I do at the state Baptist newspaper.
As I have mentioned before in this space the challenges of publishing are many today and will not be addressed solely through social media and the distribution of digital media.
There is a balance to be struck between digital and print media in the years ahead and it will take clear thinking and lots of prayer to figure out the best way to tell the story of how God is using Arkansas Baptists to further the cause of Jesus Christ in our beloved state.
The strategy of our state Baptist newspaper must be excellent God-honoring and effective and it will take hard work energy focus and lots of prayer to make that a reality for generations of Arkansas Baptists to come.
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.