Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wanting to Fight against this ...

I honestly never wanted to be part of this club. This "chronic pain", or "health issues" or "undiagnosed conditions". I grew up with the mentality that we all just need to be tough and that it is not ok to let others know when you are hurting. I thought only weak people would be sick or hurt and so I grew up thinking that I must be a wimp. And maybe I am. Lately I have spent a lot of time with someone who makes me feel insecure about being "sick", this person makes it not secret that they hate it when people are "puny", and I am sure that they thinks I am a puny one. I am. I get tired just walking up the stairs, and when everything is flairing up with my heart and stuff (like it has been this week), I am looking pale and can hardly get the energy and breath to do a lot of the stuff I usually - let alone going have any kind of social life!  This is one of th sweetest people I know, so of course wouldn't tell me to "buck up babe", or tell me that I am a wimp. But this morning when I said that I will be going to my cardiologist on Thursday, this was the reply I got: "It's always something with you isn't it". Yes, and it frustrates me to no end that just when my hip is stopped swelling, my heart acts up, and just when that stops my liver get inflamed ... But I try to not to say much of what is going on with my health, but sometimes I have to mention it because of our schedules etc.  At times like this I just want to sink into a whole and not be involved with anyone. I want to just be alone so that no one needs to feel awkward or pity me or treat me like some kind of weirdo.  I am not sure what the lesson is for me here, maybe humility.

I guess part of my wanting to do this blog was to try and tell the world that even though I am in pain and sick all the time, that I am NOT giving in, NOT giving up, and that I am deterined to make the most of this life I have been given. I want the world to see that those of us in this pain club have a choice to make to choose to rejoice in the strength of God displayed through our weaknesses, to choose a different kind of happiness in a world whose focus is on external things to bring happiness.

This month I was honored to find that my blog had been chosen among a large number of bloggers writing about chronic pain to be included in a chronic pain carnival on another blog. I was honored that someone I don't even know picked an entry in my blog to post on her carnival page.


But at the same time part of me was fighting against wanting to be acknowledged in this community. I want it - but on the other hand, it brings back all the things I have fought against all my life of not wanting to be seen as having pain. I know that probably sounds funny since I have my own blog openly talking about God's strength through my chronic pain and illness ... but there are moments when I just want to run away to someplace where no one knows that I have pain and hide my life away for no one to see. I know that God is calling me to speak His truth and His healing into this world of chronic pain, and that He calls me to be honest and He is using me to encourage others .. but sometimes I just wish He would have chosen me for something else.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

For my Husband

For all of you who go the extra mile to help others out this post is a shout out to YOU.

And most of all this is for you - my sweet husband.

Today has been an especially hard day for me physically. I was feeling pretty glad that I had just made it through the morning and afternoon and having cleaned up the kitchen - but kept feeling like I was forgetting something I was supposed to do. About then my husband came home from working lunch shift and I suddenly realized that the turkey I had cooked this week NEEDED to be taken apart and frozen for soup ... and of course this had to happen today (I had already put it off far too long). Being nauseated and dizzy and ripping apart a large turkey and straining the broth is a bad combination.

My husband has tons of homework to do - a big test tomorrow in one of his classes. But - rather than rush right into his homework he came and stood by me and helped me by doing the majority of the yucky work with the turkey. And I was able to freeze a bunch of home-made broth and extra meat as well as get a pot of turkey soup started. It only took about 30 minutes of his time, but that 30 minutes meant a lot more to me. It meant that I could do a job that felt impossible, and feel like I had accomplished something today - which as I have said before is a very important part of living with chronic pain. It meant that I could get more rest this evening and probably keep from feeling even worse. It meant a LOT to me.

I love when my husband picks me a fresh bouquet of flowers, or takes me out to dinner, or we take a walk in the park together ... but tonight I am perfectly happy with my husband my hero for helping me tackle this yucky job to show his love for me.

Putting together the pieces

I used to have an amazing naturopathic doctor who was wonderful at putting the pieces together and thinking outside of the box. I have a lot of unknowns with my health and lots of pieces that seem like they should be connected but we're still missing some pieces to the puzzle. I am realizing that we may never be able to find those pieces. This naturopathic doctor would take the time to look hard - which is sadly lacking in many specilty doctors out there. She made me feel like she cared honestly about me and that I wasn't crazy even before we found out some of the concrete things that we now know - and when other doctors were throwing up their hands in confusion she assured me that I wasn't crazy.

I just spent a couple of hours looking over medical records and test results - which lead to many loose ends and I want so badly to have all those loose ends tied up and neat and tidy. I am unable to see this naturopathic doctor anymore.  We cannot afford the vitamins and suplements she would want me to be on ... and it's frustrating. I find myself confused over the never ending physical pain I have and wanting an answer to what has made my body go haywire - what has caused these conditions ... I find myself longing to go see this naturopathic doctor. With every definative diagnosis I get it seems to create more questions as to what is at the root of these things - and I want to know so many things. Sometimes the not knowing and understanding what exactly is going on with my body - or what organ will be affected next feels unbearable.

BUT ... (thank God for that small word!)

I don't NEED to know - because I know that God knows and I can lay my body - and every confusing and hurt part of it - into His care and I can rest in the peace that He has me in His hands and there is nowhere else I would rather be.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I am sure that many of your enjoyed a day with family or friends around a dining table enjoying time together and a wonderful meal. I enjoyed two such dinners only 3 hours apart with both my inlaws and my extended family. It was wonderful, and at both dinners we had the opportunity to say what we were thankful for: well, let me rephrase: we had the opportuniy to BEGIN to say what we were thankful for - because if we each went through and said everything we are thankful for it would take years. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a small list of my thanks to God:

1. First of all for a personal relationship with God - without this my life would feel empty even if I had everything I wanted.

2. for my sweet husband who knows me and loves me entirely and makes me want to be the best I can be

3. For parents who love each other

4. for neices and nephews who give me so many hours of joy

5. For my siblings and friends

6. that my husband has work

7. that my husband gets to go to school

8. for a home to live in

9. for food and a warm bad

10. running water

11. our church family

12. for music

13. for my piano

14. for light and electricity

15. for internet to help me stay connected

16. for medications

17. for photos and memories

18. for the ability to walk, talk, see, hear, taste, feel

19. for trees

20. flowers

21. bird and squirrels that give Grammie and I so many hour of entertainment

22. for transportation when we need to go places

23. for clothes to wear and shoes

24. for warm water

25. for poetry

26. for books

27. for the Bible

28. for prayer and that I can talk to God anywhere at any time

29. for chairs and table to eat with friends around

30. even for the pain that is my constant teacher as I walk through life ....

I could go on and on and I want to practice gratefulness in every area of my life. God has given so much and used so many things to teach me of His love and grace in my life and in others ...

Take some time to share thanksgiving by making a comment on my blog! Let's encourage each other!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow Day!

It's snowing! When I woke up at 7 there was not a flake - but by 9 we had an inch of perfect white fluffy snow covering the ground and flocked on the mini evergreen forest behind our house. There is something about snow that is just so peaceful and beautiful. It seems magical and can turn the most ordinary of trees into an enchanting winter beauty, and the oldest person into a giddy child again.

It is important to allow ourselves to enjoy the simple pleasure of creation and snow is one of those. The pressure of health concerns or pain of any kind can threten to steal away joy in the moments we have here on earth. But, in allowing ourselves the joy and excitment and the beauty of creation, we can actually help ease the pain of physical illness - AND makes it more fun for others to be around us too! So enjoy the glimpses of the creativity of God displayed all around you today.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Out of Control ...

My nose has been completely unreasonable for over a month now. Like tonight: I felt ok my nose is behaving for the last 1/2 hour so I decide to go to bed. As SOON as my head hits the pillow I cannot breath out of my nose. After trying decongestants, antihistamines, mucus stuff, naturopathic stuff, regular nose spray, drinking water til it comes dripping out of my eyes ... I finally ask my doctor about it (small rabbit trail: waiting to mention seamingly "regular" health issues is something typical with chronicly "ill" people - or at least with me - I feel so guilty about getting an ordinary cold, or really anything that seems unrelated to the regular and more pressing concerns, that I wait til it is unavoidable. So yesterday my doctor tells me that my nose (which I think is just a really long cold or some reaction to a cold) is probably something inflamatory related to other issues.  So, tonight as I lay down my nose immediately decided to be ... well annoying. Up and down for about 2 hours by now, and my nose is just not going to let me sleep much tonight - it's already 1:46. I have NO control over my nose! In fact, as I think about it: I have no control over a lot of what happens with my body. Even if I do everything "right" and eat only the healthiest food, and get enough sleep, and have no stress in my life, I still cannot control a lot of what goes on in my body. I cannot will my heart to keep beating if it decides to stop.

Now, for a slightly OCD and slightly control freak, this is unsettling. It's unsettling until ... I lay my body (nose and all) at the feet of the God who created that body - every part. He knows all about my body and how it works (or doesn't at times) and He also know what is best. We live in a world stained by sin and sickness and the wearing out of our bodies is part of that. BUT - God has made a way for the redemption of my body and a life someday totally void of sickness and a nose that misbehaves. Ahhhhh I can finally rest. I can rest in the peace that even when everything around me - and often inside my body is working to show me that I am not in control - GOD ... my wonderfull, personal, powerful, and all-knowing God, has me and my body in His hands.

Nose and all.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


My husband and I are in a study on Loving God above everything else. We have been exploring the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan and last week was about being obsessed with Jesus. I want the kind of obsession that everyone can see. I want God to mean everything to me above all the things that this world strives for every day. I thought that today I would share some quotes from the book that I thought were really perfect for the topic of suffering in relation to being obsessed with Jesus. I pray that these will be an encouragment to you wherever you are today.

"People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attemp to mask the ugliness of their sins or their failures. Obsessed people don't put it on for God; His is their safe place, where they can be at peace."

"A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God." (see James 1:2-4)

Be encouraged!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It is well with my soul

Today is one of those days that I am in too much pain to think clearly enough to write - so I am resting in the truth of this beautiful hymn and the testimony of the author! Because of Him even when it is not well with my body - it is well with my soul.

And this makes me smile.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"THERE WILL BE A DAY" (Official)

This Moment

Yesterday a the sweet mother of some of our very best friends went to be with Jesus after a very long battle with cancer. We knew that she was probably going to heaven very soon, and that God had not healed her on earth, even after so many prayers and her beautiful faith (which again is a testimony that God does not always heal while we are on earth), but it still was a shock to hear that she is no longer here. Today I have been overwhelmed by the knowledge that she is seeing Jesus face to face in heaven. She is free of pain. She is free of all things suffering. And that all of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior will one day see her again and be there in heaven forever worshipping God alongside this beautiful woman. I am rejoicing in the total freedom she is experiencing right now.

I've said it over and over, and I am sure I'll say it again: this world is NOT all there is!!! The pain that you are facing today - physical, emotional, spiritual, is only for a short time in relation to eternity. Some people might think that this attitude would make me throw in the towel on life here on earth. It is full of pain. It is full of tears. BUT - the hope of heaven gives me so so much energy to live well on this earth. To not focus on the pain or suffering, but rather to grow in trust of the God who knows best and who offers to all a life eternal in heaven someday. The reality is that every one of us will die (unless Jesus returns before that day) and none of know when that will be. Last night my sweet husband and I were talking about death, and how you never know when your last moment will be on this earth. I have had two respiratory arrests in the last 5 years. I totally stopped breathing and they did mouth to mouth to keep oxygen in my body until I started breathing on my own. I could have died. I could stop breathing at any moment. So could you. I am so thankful for those times when I realized that it could be the end of my life on earth. I am thankful because it helps me to try to live all for Jesus since I don't know when it will be over for me on this earth. I don't want to waste a moment. That doesn't mean that I never do waste a moment - I definately have times when I am not livng the way I should and am wasteful of what God has given me. But, with the reminder that earthly life is so short, I am all the more determined to live in this day to bring a smile to the face of God by loving Him and others with my moments.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Time and Prayer

We talked about sharing what we have in Sunday School this morning. My husband and I aren't the richest people in the world. This morning was a reminder of that once again. It's humbling to need help and to be helped by others - but also so encouraging. I wish we didn't need the help - but we do at times. I have had so many wonderful people in my life who have helped pay off doctor, hospital and medication bills. Do I wish that I could have paid them off myself? Of course. I hate being seen as someone who needs help - financially or any other way. I long to serve the world around me too.

I also don't have the physical energy or wellness to enable me to do a ton of visiting and hanging out with people. It's probably the thing that is heardest about having pain every day. I want to be able to jump into my car (assuming I had one) and go drop off meals to friends in need, or just go and encourage someone who is hurting. I want to be able to baby-sit every day for people who need a break from childcare. But the reality of my life is that I can't do as much as I would like. It might be hard to understand that even sitting and chatting with friends could cause me to be unable to function much for a couple of days. A day shopping almost always takes a day or two to recover from. I am willing to take that risk of increased pain and I do plan and do things - because otherwise I would never interact in person with anyone. I love having people over to our home, I love hanging out with family and friends - but I cannot do it as much as I would like to - or what's worse as much as others would like me to do. There are limits that I fight against, but am trying to be wise with what I am able to do without inhibiting me to do all the things I need to do to be a good wife and not end up in the ER.

BUT I do have something that many people would just drool over - and that is TIME. Because of my life and being unable to work much outside of the home and because of the fact that I need down time to be able to stay functioning - I end up with lots and lots of time where I am just alone and stuck in my house - or even stuck laying down in bed. I have battled against this time over and over again. I sometimes feel guilty when pretty much everyone I know is rushing around like crazy so so busy that they don't have time for anything. But, I am realizing that I need to rejoice in this gift God has given me of time. It is a resource - and although I don't have much money to give to those in need, or even physical presence to be somewhere all the time ministering to those in need - I have time and it is precious. I sometimes look at the limits that are on that time and feel like it is useless. I am pretty much "trapped" in this basement that I live in (and some of that is because I am caring for my elderly Grandmother who needs someone to just BE here to help her stay safe) and I have at more times that I would like given up on using my time to bring glory to God or to help others (these two are often intertwined). So, I am trying to learn to use these hours that could just be lonely hours of wasted time. If I really believe that prayer is as powerful as I say it is, then why am I not praying more for those who need it (which is everyone). I can name right now several families who are getting ready to say good-bye to loved ones battling cancer. I know of so many kids who are struggling in broken homes, or dealing with poverty. I have seen the faces of those who have no hope. I know personally people who are questioning the very existence of God. And yet I have the stupidity to think that my hours of "free" time are useless? Let me get on my knees and come before the Creator of this whole earth - and each person in it, and let me pray with passion for the needs of people around me. My time is a gift. May I use it to encourage others, to do something worthwhile.

What kind of person do you want to be?

Have you ever known someone who made you feel guilty for being happy? You know: the kind of person who you feel like you can't talk about how good your life is because at every turn they are sharing a horrible story about how bad theirs is? Who complain non-stop about everything: "My wife spends too much money", "I couldn't get the new car I really wanted", "my kids are such a pain." Tell me if this doesn't resound true to you because, sadly, I don't think this is an uncommon problem.

I remember a turning point in my life where I was with one such person and they were complaining non-stop about every little thing. I often would feel the need to complain when I was around this type of person - like I didn't want to make them feel bad that I had joy in my life when they couldn't grasp hold of it. But, instead of joining in, all of the sudden I realized that I didn't have to be dragged down to that level myself. I realized that rather than feel the need to validate the complaining attitude, I could instead acknowledge that no life (apart from when we are in heaven) is perfect and that although life is full of pain and heartache, it doesn't mean we cannot choose and seek the joy that only God can bring. I realized in that moment, that I had actually allowed this person the power over my very outlook on life - and rather than fighting for joy against all odds, I had been sucked into the idea that I had to feel guilty for enjoying life.

Now, I am not claiming to have mastered (by any stretch) living a joy-filled life in every trial and every pain. I definately have times when I am down-right depressed over the suffering in the world and the pain in my body. Nor do I claim that because of this turning point do I never allow other's to drag me down with negativity. BUT, I think that realizing that I can choose to fight for joy and REJOICE in the joy and hope that God offers every one of us, has been so liberating for me. It is definately a journey; but one that I am excited to take. I don't want to ever be the one dragging others down. I want to allow the joy that God offers to spill over onto those around me and for this to cause those who are down-trodden to be able to look to God and find even a tiny bit of hope for a joy-filled life. If I have ever (and I am sure that I have) made any of you feel guilty for the smile that you had on a day when I was crying and unable to see that hope and joy - I am so sorry. Thank you for walking with me through this journey. May we all look to God for our strength and our smile.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Leading through illness

One of the most beautiful pictures of God working through human illness and even using that illness to bring about His perfect work through His followers is in the story of Amy Carmichael.

Amy felt called to go into mission work in her teen years, and her heart was set on going to Japan. When she finally got to Japan, it became apparent that she couldn't stay. The climate agrivated some serious health problems and the mission organization forced her to go to India instead. Amy didn't plan to go to India - she had felt that Japan was her mission-field. But through a tender heart to God Amy began working in India to spread His love to this country. Amy was horrified by the common practice of selling children into temple prostitution, and eventually started a home called Donover where she would work to rescue these child slaves and give them a home. This home is still in existence today even though Amy died in the 1950s. The home for children is now run by former child slaves that were rescued by the ministry Amy began. Amy has literally saved hundreds of children in India from this dreadful trade of selling children into temple prostitution; but she never would have been in India if she had not become so ill while in Japan. God used her illness to get her right where He wanted her. (read the story of Amy in Elizabeth Elliot's book: "Chance to Die: The life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael")

In Galations 4:13 the Apostle Paul reminded the churches in Galatia that it was: "because of a bodily illness" that he had first preached the gospel to the Galatians. Paul clearly saw that sometimes God uses or allows physicall illness to lead us where He wants us to go. I have mentioned this passage and this concept before - but it bears repeating.

May I be willing and have enough faith to see that God can use my pain and illness to send me exactly where He wants me to be.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not Alone

We are not alone in our suffering. I think that one of the major misconceptions when it comes to living with suffering in this world - is that this world is all there is. If this world is all there is, then suffering is unbearable. I have discussed this topic before in the blog, but it bears repeating. THIS WORLD IS NOT ALL THERE IS! This is one of the most comforting thoughts in the Bible. For those of us who have chosen to live a life given over to God - and who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have the hope and promise of heaven. (if you need help with finding the new life that is offered through Jesus Christ send me a message and I will help walk you through the Bible to find the truth and to make Jesus the Lord of your life)

Heaven. It's so much more than what we think of heaven or what heaven is portrayed as through movies etc. It isn't just a place where you sit on clouds all day playing a harp. Heaven will be many things that I don't think we can even immagine in our limited minds - but what I do know from Scripture is that heaven will be where I see my God face to face for the very first time. I know that there will be no pain, no tears, no darkness, no sin. Sometimes my heart longs for heaven so much that it takes my breath away. And the longing for heaven only makes me more motivated to live every moment I have on this earth to make a difference and to bring as many to heaven with me as possible - to bring others to see and savor the beauty of Jesus. But I am not alone in my deep longing for heaven. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5 Paul talks about this very longing:

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, ... For indeed while we are in this tent we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swollowed up by life. .. "

We are not alone. All through the ages followers of Jesus waited to see the redemption of the body - the end of this mortal life - and as Paul expressed, had a deep longing to be at home in heaven. But even more than that:

"For we know that all creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" - Romans 8:22-23

ALL CREATION GROANS. We are not alone. We and even this earth, are waiting for the day when Jesus will return and take us to heaven - and make a new earth - uncorupted by sin and suffering. We will have new bodies - that never wear out or get sick or die. Some of us have been given pain which helps us remember that this earthly world is not our real home - we are uncomfortable here and I think that is a blessing. But every one of us humans, have some kind of suffering while here on earth. Let those pains and suffering be a continual reminder that this world is only for a short time, and our redemption will come someday, where every tear will be wiped away and every pain erased. Until then, let us live today with eyes for eternity to bring glory to our wonderful Savior and Redeemer, and to touch the lives we come into contact with, with Jesus Christ's love and grace. To make every moment count for eternity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trust God's Hand

There is nothing quite like singing songs praising the one true God with 5,000 other women. While I stood there singing, I looked around me and was overwhelmed by the knowledge that God loves and knows each one of these women in the deepest and most personal way. He created each one to bring glory to His name and He knows the circumstances that make each one cry. He knows the personal pain that they don't even tell their closest friends. And above all of that: He can be trusted to do what is best even in suffering that we all face in this life.

Over the weekend I had the great joy of attending the Women of Faith conference with two beautiful godly women who were in my group and gave me the opportunity to come and just rejoice in the time away from ordinary life seeking the face of my Redeemer and Lord. For those women I am so filled with gratitude! And for my husband, who took over with my responsibilities here at home so that I could get away, I am so grateful.

Probably the biggest thing I came away with was a renewed passion for TRUST in a God who knows just what we need, and who sees more than we can see with our limited vision on this earth. Long ago I heard someone say that trust is gratitude and that trust is the most pure form of worship. When we are truly and totally grateful for all that God has given us in Himself we cannot help but lay down our defences and trust Him totally. When we trust Him totally - when we put our very lives into His hands for Him to do what is best we are truly worshipping Him in everything we do. Many of us have learned to put up walls to keep from having to trust - and in the area of suffering and chronic pain and health issues it is no different. Why would I trust a God who allows sickness and pain to be part of my every day? There is no way that the suffering in the world is understandable or redeemable if we do not believe with everything in us that this world is only a part of our existence. The Bible is full of reminders that this world is not our real home and one of the most comforting passages pointing us to endure suffering while we are here in light of what is to come is in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 " Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." This world is not all there is! Everyone suffers in some way, in fact Jesus told his closest friends on earth that "In this world you will have trouble - but take heart for I have overcome the world." When we understand that we follow a God who sees much more than we can see and who loves us so much we can relax in spite of pain and rest in trust. He is so worth it.

I am not saying that God never heals - it is clear that He does at times heal physical, emotional, mental illnesses. When He heals we need to give Him all the glory. And when He choses for whatever reason, to not heal in the way we ask Him to - we need to also give Him all the glory. He is God and totally worthy of our trust in everything.