Here I am only halfway into day one of obedience. God has already flooded me with rest, peace, and healing. I had a wonderful night of sleep. I woke up with my spinal cord stimulator working like a charm. It seems my nerves are settled and my pain is minimal.
Today God led me to read all of Psalm 119. Every word of that psalm centers around the pricelessness of God’s word. How God uses it to guide us, renew us and bless us. It’s so important we meditate on God’s truth daily. If we do so with a whole heart God will fill us with his joy.
It’s so easy in this day and time to get distracted by other things. We pick up our phones day and night with so many options. We most make sure that we don’t read Facebook more than we do God’s book. I’m doing my best to practice this discipline in my life. This isn’t just to reach some goal. But, I know the greatest life is a God led life. And, the primary way God guides us is through His word.
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”
Psalms 119:1-2 NLT
We all go through seasons and each have a purpose in light of eternity. It’s so important we listen to God’s voice. However, we can’t hear His voice clearly without intentionally seeking His heart. We do this best by removing the distractions and excuses. We do this by repenting and wholeheartedly seeking to draw closer to God above all else.
I’ve had many seasons where God has called me to draw a little closer. I believe I’m in another one of those times in my life. For God to have more space in our lives we’ve got to give him more space. We’ve got to be willing to make whatever adjustments necessary to keep walking closely with Jesus.
God is leading me to take another 40 days away from social media. Therefore, I will be deleting my Facebook app. I will only jump on whenever God is leading me to share something. I will use this time of fasting from social media to seek even more the heart of God. To let God renew me and ready me for His service. I will be praying for each of you even in my absence.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
I’m finally home after a very tough physical day. However, I’m so much better now compared to how my day started. After several days of over stimulation I decided to turn my spinal cord stimulator completely off. This time instead of it just being off 5 hours. I decided to try at least 12 hours. Well, I turned the unit off Saturday night at 9pm. Then, around 1:30 am on Sunday morning I was drastically awoken from pain consuming me at the highest level.
If I ever wondered if my stimulator helped much. I don’t have to wonder anymore. After just 4 1/2 hours off every ounce of pain I ever had returned. I was half asleep and crazy after being so shocked by the pain. I can’t think of one part of my body that wasn’t aching intensely as I just sought to catch my breath. Once I realized what was happening I quickly turned my stimulator back on.
I can promise you this my friends. I will never turn my spinal cord stimulator fully off again. I may turn it down but never off completely. Every nerve in my body still feels like they were fried. My legs have barely been at 30-35% level strength all day. I feel like I’m just having to drag my feet when I walk.
Fortunately, my stimulator appears to be putting things back in order hour by hour. I’ve got things set a few notches lower than before. My overall nerves have settled quite a bit. Now, my body is simply recovering from a nightmare experience. I fully believe God allowed this week’s struggles so that I could be sure of my source of strength. Otherwise, I couldn’t have preached boldly this morning’s message called “Where Strength Is Found.”
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Tonight is another one of those nights. In fact, this makes four nights in a row my nerve pain has wrestled me to the ground. I’m writing this post while icing my back and laying on my side. Whether I like it or not the cold hard facts are impossible to ignore. I’m not physically the same person I used to be for so long.
I’ve come so far when it comes to coping with my nerve wrecked body. However, I’ve hit another one of those rough patches. Since Sunday night nothing has felt easy and my nerves have felt fried. That’s hard to swallow when you’re a pastor who genuinely loves people. Yet, my body will only allow me to do so much.
I can no longer deal with crisis situations from sun up to sun down. I can no longer drive whenever and wherever I feel like it. Sure, I can try to be who I used to be to so many. But, I will only end up feeling like I do right now.
Sometimes you just have to speak cold truth to yourself. I’ve been doing better than ever on my diet. I had been doing excellent with keeping my nerve pain under control. But, I gradually drifted towards being the old me. Now, I know there’s a reason why I’ve watched carefully my ministry load for the past seven years.
While I absolutely hate this nauseating pain flooding my body. This is God’s way of reminding me of my new limits. In fact, if you are dealing with life altering chronic pain. You will have to drastically adjust your way of life and make daily tough decisions. It’s okay to have clear boundaries and a constant self awareness. You just need to keep taking the next right step when it comes to your new normal.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10
I know you’re not here physically anymore on this earth. Yet, there is so much you’ve left behind I must acknowledge. In fact, with each day that passes your impact fills my heart. So much of my life, family and ministry is a direct product of your investments. In tribute to your legacy I just want to point out a few ways you’ve changed my life.
One, you always cared about me. I never had to wonder if you loved me. Even when you disciplined me I knew love was guiding you. Thanks for always caring and being involved in my life. It has helped me to live feeling loved and secure as a man. It has helped me to know how to love my wife, kids, and others in my life.
Two, you were such a Godly example for me. Sure, you never fully understand or appreciate things the same when you’re young. Now, all I see is a man who did his best to live with integrity and sincerity before God and others. While none of us are perfect. I know you always strived to practice what you preached. You were truly a man worth following and celebrating.
Three, thanks for giving me a passion for reaching lost souls. I truly feel that my ministry today is just a continuation of your ministry the past 45 years. I’ll never forget you screaming out the car window because another soul came to know Jesus that Sunday. You and mom lived your lives to love God, love people and point others to Jesus. I plan on living the rest of my life doing the same as you.
Dad I could mention so many more things that made you great. However, I know you never cared about applause or recognition. I sure wish you were here for us to celebrate. However, I plan to never forget you and always celebrate your legacy. See ya again later once my mission here on earth is done.
Love you so much and we will do our best to take care of mom!
Your Middle Son
Late last night I experienced something that used to be a daily occurrence. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming it had been so long. I knew the pain in my lower back surgical spot was increasing in pain. What I didn’t know was I would end up in a nonstop puddle of tears.
The best way I can describe it is like a neurological seizure that rushed throughout my body. I’m not talking about parts of my body, but shooting nerve sensations from my feet into my face. Every single nerve within me experienced shock waves. Next thing I knew I was snot crying out the toxins that filled my veins. Honestly, for a short while it really took me back to times I would rather forget.
Today, I feel like I’m just reflecting on a really bad hurricane that swept through my body last night. Sure, I’ve still got some discomfort in my lower back. But, the insanity has been calmed once again. I told my wife it blows my mind that nearly everyday used to feel that way. I really never knew what the next minute would hold. I used to fall apart seemingly everyday.
Praise God I generally live with much greater peace, confidence and consistency these days. I’ve learned how to embrace my new normal. I’ve learned that God will always be faithful. I’ve learned that God can and will see me through whatever life brings my way. I still pray for each of you that are walking through pain. Trust me, if God can help me He can help you. I live each day as a miracle knowing God is so good. My greatest pain nowadays just reminds me that I no longer live in my yesterdays.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”
I was looking through my God led blog stats. Once again I was very humbled. Over the last 10 years I’ve written over 1500 posts. They have been viewed over 100,000 times from people in 130 different countries. How in the world does that happen when all I’m doing is sharing my faith walk. I know there are many that read my blog that I will never meet in person. I want you to know I truly care about you. In fact, God cares about you and has special plans for you. I’m praying something I share will encourage on your journey. Here below are pics of the 24 countries that have read my blog this past month besides the United States.
This is just day two of my 40 Day Faith Walk reboot. If you’ve followed my pain journey the past several years you know this is either my 4th or 5th time on this type of God led journey. In these 40 days I hope to grows me stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and for sure spiritually. I believe I’m headed in the right direction under His care.
Today, I was out of the house for around 4 hours. At least, I was able to get something accomplished. I did have to keep my battery operated heating pad on high the entire day. Seems as soon as I take it off the pain in my lower back takes me back down. I get extremely weak and nauseous quickly.
So, around 4:30pm today I had to take a muscle relaxer and go back to sleep. After a couple hours of sleep I felt much better. I’ve just been sluggish because of the medication. At least this time I was able to stay ahead of the pain. My body overall just feels like it’s throbbing and worn down.
My stimulator technician has allowed me to turn my stimulator back up just one notch. Which means I’m now running it on a level 5. I used to run it on a strength level of 8. I know my unit has not been giving me the same level of pain relief as before. That surgical area just seems to stay very sensitive and sore.However, I feel today was a huge step forward towards optimism.
One, the pain overall has been kept bearable. Two, I was able to be out twice as much as yesterday. Three, I do believe turning my stimulator up will help in time. Unfortunately, that could still take another week for very noticeable changes. As I look back to when I used to write all the time about my pain. I realize several things worth highlighting.
One, things have only been rolling down this hill the past 6 weeks. I was doing so good for what seemed like so long. So, I know things WILL get better in time. Adjustments are just having to be made while God has me in His workshop.
Two, I never started any of my other 40 Day Faith Walks feeling this good. Where I am now is where I usually ended back in those days. Meaning I’m starting this journey knowing my glass is half full not half empty. I never had this level of mental, physical, or spiritual confidence when facing similar valleys in the past. Meaning, the past battles really have left me stronger and more battle prepared. I thank God that I’m still way better today than how things were for so many years.
Three, I can just feel the hand of God upon me. This is another purposeful time where God is teaching me and hopefully using me. I do feel strength even in my weakness. I do have confidence as I look into the future. I do know deep in my heart that God will take me through this struggle. He always has and He always will supply all my needs.
I’m going to bed with my physical pain at a 5 out of 10. However, I’m also going to bed with my spiritual peace being a 9 out 10. Of course, anything that is heavy feels heavy. But, when you can feel God’s presence and see God at work. Your spirit can be lifted even when your physical strength is low. I’m seeking to trust God with every step just like a child. And, I’m so thankful for all of my prayer warriors. I’m praying for you too!
“Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
I really didn’t see this coming. This pain has once again wore me down and left me shaking my head. Honestly, I can write about it easier than I can talk about it. It’s not that I get so emotional, but just breathing wears me out right now. This pain is so suffocating and impossible to ignore.
Right now, there isn’t much positive thinking. When the pain reaches this level it tends to blow up your internal breaker box. Misery is the nicest word that comes to mind. And, in the midst of this misery I’m fighting to keep the faith.
So, I’m gonna keep this real short. I’m headed to bed just in hopes of some relief. Sadly, the only time I’m not hurting is when I’m asleep. I’ve officially taken the next 40 days away from social media. So, the only ones who can read this are those who connect to my blog. Please join me in praying for breakthrough. I can’t change this on my own. I desperately need God to intervene.
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
I’m not writing this for just anyone. I’m writing this for those who can relate to nonstop pain. I know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable every moment you’re awake. To feel like each breath takes effort for many reasons. I know how pain melts you and unfortunately changes you. While you try to take the next right step, even the first step can be difficult.
Traditionally, I try to take Monday’s off to recover from Sundays. However, even after 10 hours of solid sleep I was still hurting when I woke up today. All I’ve done today was rest, lay down, or sit up. My body hasn’t felt like it could handle anymore. Here I am still dealing with continuous pain and back in the bath for the evening.
Looking back, I’m sure I shouldn’t have stood to preach both Sunday services. That’s something I’ve only done a few times over the last 5 plus years. Either way this pain is all too familiar. It’s been a day full of discomfort, discouragement, and distraction. You go through so many emotions, but somehow God gives you enough strength to keep hoping forward.
Fortunately, I know this all can change. It’s not always this way, but when it is you find yourself in such turmoil. You feel burdened and sometimes like a burden to those around you. If this describes your feelings know that you’re not alone. God is with you and others do understand your challenge. Fortunately, tomorrow is a new day and God can always change things.
“Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15
I don’t think losing a sense of control ever does your nerves a lot of good. You would think by now I would be a veteran of dealing with chronic pain. However, this past week really shook me up. Even though I’ve had many rough seasons in the past. My most recent flare up left me afraid and wondering what the future might hold. In fact, humanly I still wonder about things.
There’s just something about feeling so limited that brings you to your knees. It’s so much easier just to talk about your faith. But, when faith is all you’ve got your faith better grow deeper roots. I’ve been having to borrow from past victories in order to believe God for present ones.
Fortunately, I know my faith can’t rely on my abilities. Even if I was extremely healthy that could change in a heartbeat. How often do we rest our faith on our abilities, resources, or circumstances. Once again I believe God is aiming to take the training wheels off of my faith. He’s calling me to trust Him more and to realize that all my hope is only in Him.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Well, I haven’t been out the house today. However, I have been getting some much needed rest and relax time. It seems my spinal cord stimulator is working to perfection at it’s new setting. I feel nothing crazy going on within my body. My pain is under control and my nerves are very calm. Last night, I slept almost 10 hours straight.
I’m continuing to watch what I eat and drink. I’ve found it’s okay to eat a normal meal here and there. But, for the most part I’m continuing to watch carefully what I do and I don’t eat. Still eating mainly veggies, fruits, lean meats, nuts, and beans. Occasionally, I eat some dairy. But, even with plain Rice Krispies I use non sweetened almond milk. I do all I can to stay away from inflammatory foods and to intentionally digest anti-inflammatory foods. Of course, this is always flushed by water, water, water.
The only other big adjustment I must make moving forward is my stress load. When you’re in a vocation that is always demanding something from you it can be dynamite to your system. So, I’ve got to recognize my limits and anything that can take me down easily. I guess I’m still having to learn how to live my new normal.
I want to thank each of you for your continued prayers. They mean a lot and make a big difference. While I’m still a little winded from a very tough week. I’ve got great peace and optimism moving forward. I can’t wait to make the devil mad with each day that passes. I give God all the glory for my progress!!
Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
This has been a very long week and a very long day. There have been many ups and downs. I’ve had many reasons to smile and some reasons to cry. So, I decided to do both for healing purposes. Now, I’m about to go to bed full of God’s peace.
I finally got my spinal cord stimulator adjusted today. After much evaluation it was confirmed that my unit must be dialed down. Due to over stimulation of my nerves my stimulator can only be run at fifty percent of its usual power. Now, it can take up to two weeks for full benefits to be felt. But, it will immediately keep my nerves from being fried even if it does allow some pain to increase.
It’s so hard to explain what this stuff feels like inside of you. All I know is that stimulator is like oxygen for my body. It keeps my nerves and pain under control. I never fully realize all it’s doing until it’s taken away. When it’s not running at full strength I become quickly deflated and discouraged. However, anyone is gonna feel discouraged when your pain escalates so quickly.
That said I know things are on track for betters. Most that have those units must get them adjusted at least 1-2 times yearly. I’ve had several cry sessions today without warning. They weren’t reflections of any sadness, but the madness that wrecked my insides. Often, when it gets this way it’s like a chemical imbalance that can only be cried out of your system.
Throughout this day I’ve had many divine conversations. Enough for me to be sure that God is not wasting my pain. God is making me stronger day by day. God is giving me opportunities to use my story to encourage others. God is healing my mind, body, and soul even when I shed tears. Just for the record I really am going to bed smiling tonight.
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Well, the prayers must be working because I’ve had no meltdowns today. I’ve also been doing everything I know to keep things under control. When things get this way I’ve learned every strategy matters. If I’ve got to stay in my bed longer that’s what must happen. If I’ve got to soak in a tub for hours that’s what must happen. If I’ve got to watch everything I eat that’s what must happen.
Today, I just shortened my day and worked from home. That allowed me the strength to facilitate a funeral today. That allowed me the ability to go and celebrate my niece’s 18th birthday. After all if you can’t be there for your own family you shouldn’t be ministering all the time to others. I’ve just been very grateful overall with today.
I have found that keeping my battery operated heating pads constantly on underneath my shirt has been a life saver. Seems as long as I keep that surgical spot heated it usually keeps me sane. Praise God, I will be getting my spinal cord stimulator adjusted by a professional tomorrow at noon. Early this morning I did turn my unit back up to what used to keep things under control. That could’ve contributed to some of my pain improvement I experienced later today. But, I know I’ve still got to get things checked.
Now, I will spend another evening in the tub. But, I’m very grateful for God’s new mercies each day. Things could be so much worse for me. Even amidst all the squirming my pain creates within me. I know how much more hope I have today compared to years before. So, God keep taking me by the hand and leading the way. Use every ounce of my pain for your glory. Hopefully, y’all will hear much less from me about my discomfort in the days to come.
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:1-3
Somehow this pain just keeps sneaking back up on me. Everyday ends with me feeling like I’m in unbearable pain. Saying I hate feeling this way is an understatement. I was doing so well for so long. Plus, I’m seeking to do all the right things more than ever before. Yet, my pain is so much worse in my lower back.
Crazy how that one spot can bring me to my knees anytime. In fact, my surgical spot dictates my overall condition at all times. If the pain there is under control my life feels day and night different. When it stays on fire anything in life feels unbearable. It really is starting to wear me down.
I don’t even like to use this word but I know it’s true. I now have a major disability that I must learn how to live with the rest of my life. Based on medical records I could go file for disability any time. And, I would do so if that’s what I felt led to do. But, I don’t want to live with a disability perspective. I know God has so much more for me to do.
However, I am having to change my perspective day by day. I can’t do things like I’ve always done. I can’t handle hardly anything physical anymore. Sadly, so many things ignite and escalate my nerve pain. All I know is quit is not an option. So, if I can’t get over it I will trust God to take me through it.
All I know is God has a plan. There is nothing that takes Him by surprise. Somehow this is part of his plans for my life. I’m not asking God to remove this pain. I am asking God to use this pain for His glory. I pray something He leads me to share will encourage others.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Maybe you feel stuck inside a broken body or situation that keeps letting you down. No matter how hard you try it keeps impacting all aspects of your life. It’s not one of those things you can just ignore. Time has proven this is just your present cross to bear. Boy, can I relate with your feelings.
Many weeks have passed since I can remember not having to fight this increased pain inside my body. I’ve been doing everything possible to make things better. More rest, shorter days, diet, exercise, and everything else in between. The pain in my lower back just keeps holding me hostage. I literally have to calculate each move just to keep it bearable. My days are tough but my nights are much worse.
Fortunately, I have learned a lot over the past 7 years of chronic pain. You can’t let it completely steal your joy. You have to believe that God sees all, knows all and has a plan for it all. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pastor or the president. There will always be something fighting to steal your joy. It could be physical, emotional, mental, or relational pain. Don’t obsess over what you can’t control. Rest in the fact that God is always in control. Jesus can still fill your love with joy and purpose even in the pain.
Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them life to its fullest.” John 10:10
My friends you have to keep up with certain facts if you deal with certain challenges. Everyday I seek to watch closely certain things in order to overcome my chronic pain. I watch my rest, activity, eating, drinking , standing, sitting, and even driving habits daily. Each of these things especially pooled together with others can easily take me down.
For instance, there is a reason I’ve not gotten out of the bed since last night. I had an absolutely wonderful day with my church family celebrating 8 years of God at work. At the same time, I knew before I went to bed that today would be very tough. Fortunately, this time I know why my body is aching so much. Why? Because I have learned that the facts do tell a lot about what’s going on.
Here are the facts according to my Fitbit.
One, I only slept 3 1/2 hrs the night before when me condition demands at least 8 hours of rest daily. Two, I typically shouldn’t walk over 5,000 steps per day. But, yesterday I walked nearly 15,000 steps. Three, my body does best when I’m not physically active for more than 6-8 hours daily. But, yesterday I was physically active for 14 hours. Four, my body does best when I drink at least 60-80 ounces of water. Yesterday, I maybe drank 40 ounces. Finally, I typically don’t drink any caffeine due to how much it adds to my inflammation. Yesterday was the first day in 7 days that caffeine was let in me body.
Overall all I ate pretty healthy and didn’t do anything crazy yesterday. But, the facts were still stacked against me. Keeping a close eye on these facts actually helps me a lot. They remind me that each of my decisions and sacrifices truly matter. They facts settle me because I don’t have to wonder what’s causing increased pain. Often, I can just look back at a day or a series of days that I just got off track. Don’t under estimate the impact of your daily decisions on your overall condition.
The good news is I have answers. I will rest this weary body today and look forward with great hope. My overall nerve pain is under control. My spinal cord stimulator is back into rhythm. My peace with God and His Will for my life has never been greater. And, I’m about to eat me some greens, cabbage and chicken. Praying for everyone of you.
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
According to my Fitbit I finally fell asleep around 4am still with a fever. I woke up around 8:30am to take medications and fortunately had no fever. While I’m very sore all over, I no longer have a fever. I ate a small yogurt for breakfast and immediately my stomach went back to cramping. An aching body, cramping stomach, nausea, and great fatigue seem to be my only symptoms.
I went to Urgent Care earlier for a checkup. Praise God both the Flu and Covid Tests came back negative. Doctor says something viral has gotten into my system. I’m waiting now on prescriptions that should help my stomach and nausea. Lord knows that was one long painful night. I feel strongly that in 2 days I should feel much better. My pain now is no more than a 4 and most of the night it felt like a 10.
I’m still at greater peace knowing that something extra caused that insane pain. My wife Nurse Aimee keeps taking great care of me. I would love to eat a little more but my conditions just won’t let me right now. Doctor basically said that I would know I’m better the moment I truly feel better. Only then will I not be possibly contagious. Fortunately viruses can leave your system quickly even if it does leave behind temporary fatigue. Thanks so much for the prayers!
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Here I am 5 1/2 hours later and my fever just dropped under 100. I’ve been rotating ibuprofen and Tylenol every 2 hours. My overall pain has decreased but the fever is keeping me uncomfortable. Been awhile since I was still wide awake after 3am. I can’t believe all the other meds taken earlier don’t have me fast asleep. I’m so glad this is no longer my typical bedtime experience. #patience
“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
It feels like I’ve been waiting days for the nonstop agony in my body to settle down. I just couldn’t understand why my total body pain kept climbing and climbing. It was the longest time in my memory of such continuous high level pain. Even after numerous medications my pain just kept escalating for the last 5-6 hours.
The longer nothing worked I believed that something extra had to be in my system. Anytime I get some bug in my system it takes things from bad to worse. For several hours my fever just wouldn’t even begin to decrease. It’s just finally come down to 100.2 after four hours of discovering I had a fever. Nothing seemed to put a dent on the havoc it’s been having on my shattered nerves.
The Covid test I took came back negative. The symptoms I’ve been having line up with possibly the flu or some 24 hour virus. I’m finally able to breathe a lot more calmly. I’m still not comfortable enough to sleep unfortunately. Lord knows I’ve been begging God for relief. I’m so appreciative of anyone who has lifted me up in my desperate time for prayer.
While I still feel terrible I’m somewhat relieved. I would much rather have a temporary bug wreaking havoc than for my chronic pain to be totally out of control with no clear reason. My pain was the highest it has ever been and the fire just wouldn’t stop within my body. I’m so grateful for God reaching into my situation and giving me some relief. Also, I’m thrilled to have possible answers for my extreme nerve pain.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2
Here I am again feeling so so sick. My nerve stimulator must still be off track. I’m hoping tomorrow or Friday they can adjust it in person. Problem is even after adjustments it can take days and even up to two weeks to make a true difference. My gut tells me that I’ve likely been over stimulated again. So, I’m turning the entire unit off for a few hours break.
I just don’t understand why I’m still in such a battle. I don’t even feel misery is adequate enough when I’m in this kind of pain. My blood pressure feels like it’s through the roof. My entire body aches and shivers as if I’m roasting in fever. Yet, both of those things checked out perfect.
What’s so frustrating is I’ve really been doing everything by the book. I watch so closely my eating, sleeping and really my every step. Even still, this blinding has struck my body once again. I guess I really never knew such high level pain like this before 2015.
Once again, I’m writing to process the pain. Even more I’m hoping to keep trusting God through the pain. I’ve been by the bedside of so many people longing for comfort. However, most of those folks knew their days were short. They would just do everything possible to bear another day. They knew their best healing would be ultimate healing in Heaven.
Now, I find myself in a club I never asked to join. I find my faith being tested as my body gets rocked daily by chronic pain. I still recall thinking a few years back how I could never want to live if this level pain always stuck around . Fortunately, God does give me breaks from it. However, as always it’s hard to see beyond such present breathtaking misery.
My 12 year old came and prayed over me a little bit ago. His hands, prayers, love and faith mean so much to me. I told him I needed him to pray it out again. I’m getting off of here because the nauseating vibes and aches just won’t go away. My body feels on fire. Honestly, my nights have been really bad recently. Just ask God to flood me with his unlimited grace and mercies. I know He will hear and answer every prayer. When I’m in this kind of pain I’ve got to put my pride aside and ask others to pray for me. Goodnight I’m praying for you too!
“At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly.” Job 3:17
1. Process It, Don’t Feed It
There is a difference in working through something vs wallowing in something. We don’t have to be defined by our pain. We also don’t need to be in denial of it. Process where you are in the moment, but aim towards where you want to be in the future. Get things off your chest when necessary. Find others who care and can relate. But, always look for ways you can improve your situation moving forward with hope.
2. Think Before You Act
Chronic pain is definitely something that changes your life. So, you don’t need to do anything to make matters any worse. Recognize your physical, emotional and relational limits. Monitor your physical activity daily so you don’t over do it. Don’t put yourself in situations that have proven to escalate your pain and stress. Only you know when something just isn’t gonna be good for you.
3. Focus On What You Can Do
Pain will be all you see if you don’t search hard for the blessings. Trust me, I know there are times that pain just has you in it’s vice grips. But, when possible consider what you can do and what you can change to better your situation. Otherwise, you will just live focused on your limitations. Don’t let pain steal all your joy and peace. There is always something to celebrate and aim towards doing to possibly bring a brighter day.
4. Choose A Recovery Lifestyle
There are some things you don’t just get over. Instead, God takes you through them. Choose to wake up each day and live your best life now. Discover your best new normal and do what you can to live your healthiest despite your condition. This means that you seek to keep taking the best next step in front of you. Whether that’s concerning your daily diet, exercise, spiritual disciplines, or making other healthy choices. Honestly, you need to keep studying what has helped others with your particular condition.
5. Don’t Belittle The Power Of Faith
Anything bigger than you demands the help of a big God. Your greatest brokenness should lead you towards a greater openness to God. You may feel like God is not working. But, actually God has you in His workshop. This weakness is meant to lead you towards greater faith in God and greater strength in Christ. Humanly speaking you can’t do but so much. With God leading you the sky is the limit. Thriving through pain demands that you faith walk instead of flesh walk. Faith is doing all you can do while trusting God for all you can’t do.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-11) “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
*These are just a few things God continues to teach me as I learn to live my new normal with daily chronic pain.
Eating healthy is difficult for most living in this world. However, once you truly know your health depends on it you should have greater motivation. How you eat will likely determine the quality and the quantity of your life. You’ve just got to decide to make better choices one meal at a time. Your choices will impact you and those you love.
I’m one week back to clean eating and more hopeful than ever before. There is no doubting that it affects your life big time. Especially if you have aches and pains you’re battling daily like myself. Especially if you have underlying health issues that are only ignited further by what you put in your body.
You can exercise all you want as we all should strive to do. But, what you eat will always impact your overall health. This has been a hard truth for me to swallow. But, deep inside I’m glad that my chronic pain forced this lifestyle upon me. This way of living not only helps my pain, but gives my life much greater hope looking forward.
I’m posting these words not to preach, but to encourage you forward. If you know something needs to change make the necessary changes. I prayed and prayed for God to heal my body. God answered that prayer by giving me some ways to improve the quality of my life. There’s no need to look for other solutions if you’re ignoring the answers God has given you. So, don’t keep saying “I know I need to do this or that.” Choose to wake up tomorrow and make the best choices possible one day at a time.
“I CAN do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Well, I didn’t get to sleep until after 3am this morning. So, when I got up to take my morning medications my body was definitely struggling. I was still looking forward to getting my spinal cord stimulator adjusted at noon today. Unfortunately, the adjuster reached out to inform me that appointment couldn’t happen. I’m fact, they can’t adjust my stimulator in person until this Friday.
While I was definitely happy about getting extra rest. I wasn’t sure what the day would bring my way. I pretty much slept until around 2pm. When I went to take my shower I felt things were improving concerning my overall pain. Then, like lightening in a bottle my body felt on fire head to toe. When that happens I can’t process anything well. All I know is it feels like flames inside my body.
This experience definitely brought me to my lowest point. I just couldn’t believe that things were only getting worst. However, the more I processed things I knew this was 100 percent nerve pain. So, I called and spoke to my stimulator adjuster.
Around 5pm she told me to turn off my stimulator for at least 3-4 hours. Then, if I felt okay after that turn it back on at just half the strength I normally have running within me. It appears this is a common thing with many of her stimulator patients. What your nerves could handle a year ago might not be good for them now. These nerve like impulses can overload your system over time.
Based on my past experiences, I definitely felt like my nerves were being over stimulated. So, I turned off my stimulator over 5 hours ago. In less than two hours the insanity of nerve pain drastically decreased. However, quickly you start feeling other pains the stimulator had been covering up.
I’m back in the bath just waiting on God to settle this storm. I feel very optimistic that we’ve found the root of my greatest problem. I will turn my unit back on either late tonight or early morning. I want to make sure that my nerves don’t get overloaded again. My representative said it can take up to 24 hours to get the overload out of my system.
Every time I have an episode like I had today it’s like I’m in a really bad dream. When you have absolutely no control over your body it’s very frightening. However, these same fears are what God continues to use to elevate my faith. All in one day I experienced rest, peace, chaos, heartache, torment, and now lots of hope about my situation.
I know everyone on here has something in your life that has totally overwhelmed you. In fact, sometimes you feel like it has ruined your life. Trust me, I can relate to all your human thoughts and emotions. I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking lying flat on back.
However, let’s admit it that this is where God becomes real for us. You know, when we can’t fix or change a thing. When all we we can do is look up and shoot prayers up. That’s where God becomes real in the midst of our brokenness. It’s there if we let Him God picks us up and holds us together. God assures us that we won’t fight any battle alone. He will always be there for us and with us. He will always give us peace and help us overcome our greatest fears. I’m going to bed tonight knowing I am an overcomer. Knowing that in Christ I can always find peace and victory.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT
There’s no denying that certain levels of adversity get the wheels churning in your mind. Trust me, I’ve experienced it firsthand so many times. All day long I’ve been in the vice grips of pain and discomfort. The only comfort I can find physically is when I’m sleeping or in the tub. Unfortunately, I’ve been wide awake all day long just waiting for bedtime.
In the meantime, I’ve just been trying to win the battle going on in my mind. This pain has taken me back in time to a very dark season. And, while the devil seeks to use this season as proof that I’m far from healed. God keeps telling me to reflect back on all He has done before.
The devil seeks to scream out words like hopeless and it’s always gonna be this way. God keeps saying just hold on another breakthrough is on the way. Remember, when you thought that the last time.
Now, I’m believing that God will not waste my pain. I’m believing that me choosing to share my battle will help someone else through their battle. Sometimes, life just knocks you down and leaves you barely breathing. Your prayers become whispers. In fact, you have to rely on the prayers of others because you can barely pray.
While I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed any part of this misery. I can say I feel God’s strength rising within me. I can feel the genuine prayers of others who care about me. Now, I’ve just got to keep holding on to the hope that will come from those prayers. Thanks from the bottom of my heart if you’ve prayed for me at any time. Trust me my story is far from over.
Sometimes, I believe we just have to be reminded of our brokenness. We may think we have overcome something. Then, God reminds us He has just been holding us together the whole time. It’s like we all take turns in tough seasons. Yet, for any believer we know we always have hope and God always has a purpose.
Hopefully, here shortly I will get another great night of sleep. Tomorrow at noon I will be getting my spinal cord stimulator adjusted. There’s definitely a lot of electricity running through my body. Sudden sounds and movement without warning flood nerve pain from me feet into my face. I know things are just very out of whack and I’m sure they can be settled down once again.
I do want to say that my wife is a complete angel. She has carried me so many times through similar valleys. She basically helps me with anything possible all the time. From filling my tub to fixing me the next anti-inflammatory meal. Tonight’s meal was the best combo yet on the taste buds. She fixed salmon, Brussel Sprouts and fresh pineapple. This concludes day 3 of nothing but healthy eating and drinking. God bless you all and whatever you may be facing yourself. Goodnight 🙏
“O Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Jonah 1:14
I really don’t want to make this post right now. Especially, since I know I’m once again in a very low place. But, I’m trusting God’s greater plans. Many of you know I’ve battled a long time with major chronic pain. Well, for some reason that battle has returned and hopefully only stays a little while.
Anyone who has found themselves lying in a bed of pain and uncertainty can relate to my present feelings. Even though I’ve seen miracle after miracle my heart still ponders the “what next”. This intense pain in my lower back is way too familiar. The nerve pain it pours throughout my body knocks the air out of my sails. I find myself praying harder and having to trust God bigger.
Major health issues can be very frightening. Especially when healing usually takes time. Remember, God can heal you and ultimately has the final say about you. These are easy words to say, but it takes faith to believe healing will come. So, here I am again Lord trusting you. I will do all that I can while trusting you for everything I can’t.
I’ve already kicked my anti-inflammatory diet into four wheel drive a few days ago. I’ve been resting my body as much as possible the last few days. I’m getting my spinal cord stimulator adjusted this week asap. I’m asking each of you to pray for my breakthrough healing once again. Also, know I’m praying for you too!
“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
Here I am wrapping up the ending of another blessed birthday. All I feel like doing is getting some desperately needed rest. Yet, God is telling me it’s these times especially I need to write something to share. In fact, I need to say what anyone who battles with chronic pain already knows. Pain doesn’t care what the occasion, it comes and goes whenever it pleases.
I pretty much rested in my bed the entire day. I was hoping that approach would strengthen my body and mind before tonight’s birthday gathering. However, my body just wouldn’t cooperate with my wishes. My pain has been constant all day long. And, it has only increased by the hour throughout the evening.
For those who can identify you know the disappointment it brings with it. In fact, you even feel the disappointment it brings others around you. You’re not trying to complain or be the grumpiest person at the party. However, you just can’t hide certain levels of pain. Eventually, it exposes you in every possible way.
So, once I got home later tonight. I did what I’ve had to do so much the past few weeks. I soaked in a hot tub full of epsom salt. I’ve been battling physically, mentally and emotionally all evening. No matter how hard I tried there was nothing I could do to run away the pain.
Laying here on my side just waiting on my muscle relaxers to help me rest. Fortunately, I know I’m back on track when it comes to my own personal recovery choices. I know from lots of experience that better days will come. Yet, any time you feel this way on your birthday it naturally plays with your mind. It just further confirms that your pain has changed your life. But, time has proven by faith you will always make it through the day.
This was my first birthday without my dad living on earth. Man, he had to be helped by God to smile so much at last year’s birthday celebration. And, if I were talking to my dad right now about my pain. I can hear his voice saying the following. “Son, that’s just the way life is sometimes. Sometimes the only strength you can depend on is His strength.” Okay dad, I will continue to take your advice.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
*The pic below is dad at my birthday party just 2 1/2 months before his earthly departure to Heaven.
Well, I’ve really been on the struggle bus lately. Especially in the evenings I’ve been back to having to live in the tub. Most who know my chronic pain story know this used to always be my way of life. In fact, for at least 3-4 years straight I spent 90 percent of my life in a bed or bath. I’m talking 12-14 hours a day in the bed. Then, 6-8 hours a day in the tub.
Now, my body has actually done a lot of healing over time. My spinal cord stimulator still makes a huge difference. But, any time I quit living a consistent recovery lifestyle my entire body crumbles. If not for my medications, I would never be able to sleep or get any relief. Fortunately, I do have answers I’ve just got to apply the lessons I’ve learned.
Sadly for awhile now I’ve not been eating or drinking the right stuff for me. Eating nothing but junk food has once again been my downfall. Seeking to use a caffeinated energy supplement nearly everyday has come with a price. Not walking or exercising has become a daily norm for me. Even keeping myself fully hydrated seems like a distant memory. Even my sleeping habits have been all out of whack with no consistency.
Fortunately, I know things can quickly turnaround. So, I’m running back to the basics that have brought me so much relief the last few years. Today, I went walking strategically for the first time in a long time. Plus, I didn’t intake any caffeine. Now, starting tomorrow I’ve got to keep making wiser choices. Living with a recovery lifestyle is continuing to the next right step.
I’ve already asked my wife to hide all the Little Debbie’s and Cookies in the house. Tonight, I plan to get in the bed much earlier than normal. I find that with all my nerve damage establishing a healthy consistent routine is critical. My body only allows me so many hours daily. I know if I just get back to what I know works my current pain issues will change. I encourage you my friend to keep taking the next right step. Do all that you can do while trusting God for everything you can’t.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Tonight, I’m feeling very out of sorts. My nerve pain has reared its ugly head quite a bit recently. It’s really hard to prevent something that can easily be flared by activity, eating, drinking or stress. But, somehow I’ve had way more good days than bad over the past year.
When I get this way it still makes me feel absolutely terrible. It steals all my confidence in “myself.” It knocks the joy right out of me. It makes me feel like everything is broken and can’t be fixed. Fortunately, I’ve learned it’s just feelings ignited by my broken nervous system.
While I may never like this thorn in my flesh. I can’t deny it’s value for God’s kingdom. One, it keeps me humbly walking with the Lord. Two, it makes me realize my total dependence upon the Lord. Thirdly, it makes me more compassionate towards others who struggle with life altering stuff. Fourthly, it makes it impossible for me to get the glory for anything accomplished. Overall, I’ve just seen how God continues to use it to get me and my ministry wherever He wants it to be.
It’s perfectly normal for this kinda stuff to disrupt your life. None of us like suffering or hardships. Yet, there is no denying God uses these things powerfully if we let Him. There are times you need to kick and scream in a safe environment. You also need to be reminded that God doesn’t plan to waste even a moment of your pain.
(Romans 8:28)(NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Well, Little Faith Walker is no longer so little. He turned 12 years old today and is nearly as tall as me. God keeps growing him and shaping him daily. I can still see God’s call upon his life on a daily basis.
At his age I wasn’t even thinking about doing the things he has done. God’s presence just seems to pour through his veins. God’s power flows through his prayers. God’s spirit flows through his agape love.
I try my best to teach him everything I have learned. Of course, I just have to dive through the God windows of opportunity. Much like my dad just showed me how to minister to others. I try to show him by my actions. I believe God always equips those He calls to any particular mission.
I ask you to join me in continuing to pray for him. That God might keep drawing him closer. That God might keep strengthening his abilities for mission that lies ahead. While I may be his father, my son has often been a spiritual encourager to me. He teaches me daily how to live with a childlike faith. Oh that God might protect him from the evil one who will do anything to take Asher down. Thanks for all your prayers and birthday wishes!
After three years of having my St Jude spinal cord stimulator implanted. I’m smiling bigger than ever before. Trust me, it takes quite awhile to understand how it works and how to feel it working at a maximum level. I have permanent nerve damage from my lower back all the way down through both feet. I can’t tell you how many seemingly endless days of pain I’ve endured in the past. However, my life has definitely changed for the better in recent days.
Now, I always seek to live a recovery lifestyle. I typically watch closely what I do, eat or drink. I make sure I get adequate sleep and exercise. But, I also rely on my spinal cord stimulator. Let me try to explain in my words how it helps.
First, in my case wires were implanted halfway down my spine. Then, I have implanted a battery that doesn’t ever have to be recharged. The battery is underneath skin on my right side. Together this battery and wires send messages to my nervous system. In fact, somehow they keep my nerve pain from becoming insane.
There are two types of programs I can use at any time. First, there is a program called tonic. The tonic program continually massages my lower back, legs and feet all at once from within. Imagine having a tens unit except it’s able to run inside your nerves. Yes, with just a few clicks on my iPhone control. I can run this internal tonic pulse and get some much needed breakthrough pain relief.
Now, honestly the reason I got this unit was for it’s other program called burst technology. Using the tonic requires that you lay very still as you feel ever pulse running through your body. But, with burst you feel nothing except for any relief it gives. Somehow, once you get the stimulator dialed in correctly using burst. This unit drastically reduces your nerve pain.
Unfortunately, this is very hard to explain in just one article. Basically, it usually takes several adjustments with a stimulator professional before things work great. The more I learn how this device works. The more I Iearn how to use it.
I use the burst technology setting all the time. My unit is set to run just 30 seconds every 15 minutes. Somehow, this gives me the relief I need and doesn’t over stimulate my nerves. It has zero side effects and I never feel it when it’s running.
My recent stimulator adjustment brought another huge breakthrough. Somehow, through a device my stimulator representative uses. She is able to map out my body’s needs and tolerance level. It was recently discovered that my body can tolerate three times as much power flowing through my stimulator now versus before.
My nerves have always been super sensitive. Yet, it appears that my body has done a lot of healing since my three back surgeries. Scar tissue has formed allowing my stimulator to run at a much higher level than before. So, now my stimulator is able to give me three times as much help than before. It has been a long journey getting to this point.
Talking about this stimulator can sound very intimidating at first. But, it’s just like many things it’s a learning process. If you or someone you love gets one of these units. Don’t expect instant results. However, if you have severe nerve pain know that it can help you. You’ve just got to take one step at a time.
I remember three years ago not being sure what I was doing. But, time has revealed I made the right decision. Getting this device implanted was life changing. Miraculously it keeps my nerves in check. I’m learning daily how to better get the most out of it. Typically, it just does it’s thing while I get back to a much greater quality of life.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
Burst technology you don’t feel.
It’s after 2:45 in the morning. I desperately need to fall asleep since I’ve got a very long day ahead. Usually, I would’ve been snoring at least 3-4 hours ago already. Yet, when I need sleep the most it just doesn’t seem to come easy. So, I’m just praying I will fall asleep very soon.
Today, I’ve got two more funerals to preach. Funerals that I’ve poured my heart into every ounce of preparation. There’s been so many crisis situations over the past two weeks. At the end of the day I will have preached my 9th funeral in just over 3 months. Hard to believe my dad’s funeral started things off back on May 21, 2021.
While I pray for sleep I can’t help but ponder what my dad might say to me. He would probably say “well son, that’s how it is sometimes. There will always be challenges, setbacks and spiritual adversity. You just gotta keep doing your best and trust God with the rest. God will give you the strength and the words you need to say.”
This is the first time since dad’s death that I truly had a deep internal conversation with him. I do believe his voice will always be in my heart. He showed me a lot and taught me a lot. He was a true soldier for Christ my entire life. So, dad I’m going to follow your example. I’m gonna step back and then face the next battle head on. I’m going to keep trusting God every step of the way.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
It’s actually been a couple years since I’ve blogged consistently about my life altering pain. Before, I lived with day and night torture from sun up to sun down. I spent over four years straight just trying to remain sane through the pain. After countless doctors appointments, surgeries, shots, counseling and daily physical therapy. I really didn’t think I could get any better without an absolute miracle.
This morning I looked back at one of my nerve wrecking post from days gone by in extreme pain. Within seconds my heart ached as I remembered the constant pain I use to endure. Honestly, I really wondered if I could ever smile consistently again. Yes, I was trying my best to walk by faith. But, sometimes all you can see is what’s appears to be wrecking your life. I was a nervous wreck for sure at that time.
Praise God, I’m not there anymore. Yes, I still battle limitations and anxiety related to my permanent nerve damage. But, I am so far beyond where I used to be. I wake up each day knowing I am so blessed. God continues to rebuild my life. Yes, I’m weaker in some ways. Yet, I’m so much stronger in many other ways because of my painful journey.
Now, I don’t know where life may find you right now. But, please be assured that God is still in control. You can get stronger and God can heal you further. You just need to choose to believe that God has a purpose for your pain. Everyday, choose to put your little hand in God’s big hand. Daily keep doing all that you can while trusting God to do all that you can’t. God will take you further than you can take yourself. I’m praying for you and God is with you.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
We started dating 28 years ago. We got married 24 years ago on August 23, 1997. With each year that passes I only grow to love her more. Time has proven I’ve just been blessed to call her my wife.
She always loves me unconditionally. Yet, she keeps me humble and accountable. She has the patience of Job. Yet, she shoots it to me straight when necessary.
Apart from God’s grace our marriage would’ve never survived the test of time. Despite“our” call to ministry, many relocations, raising four boys, health issues, and just normal life issues. Somehow, God kept us both together.
In fact, I want those reading this to know our marriage is far from perfect. We just keep growing in Christ together. We just know everyday we’ve got to remember the vows we made to each other. Honestly, I believe it takes years to understand the significance of those vows made in the presence of God, family, and friends.
Aimée Crosby thank you for giving me time and grace to keep growing. For never holding my yesterday’s against me. For showing me what true love is day after day. For walking beside me and not out on me. Besides my salvation you are the greatest gift God has ever given me. Everyday, I discover more reasons to love you and thank God for you!
“I found the one my heart loves.”
Song of Solomon 3:4
After a wonderful relaxing week with my wife. I came back home this past Thursday. Honestly, I got off of a cruise ship and entered a battleship. So many people going through so much. Covid which appeared to be sleeping reared it’s ugly head more than ever before. I’ve spent the past few days visiting folks who are battling for their life. Many others are just battling with life.
Unfortunately, my body is really starting to give me fits. Whether it be my diet, stress, busyness or just traveling. All of these things have proven over time to ignite my neurological condition. Once again my nerve pain has me uncomfortable and back sharing with you.
I’ve done so well for so long that I can hardly stand feeling this way anymore. I really want to believe at times that I don’t still have a chronic pain issue. I want to move on with my life and leave the past behind. But, the pain always finds a way to run me down and tell me “not so fast mister.”
Just like anyone who battles chronic pain or a chronic illness. I want out of this group and I want to be all better. However, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes we have to accept the reality of our health condition. Then, we need the support of others to overcome our pain and limitations.
For this very reason God led me to start this Faith Walking page a few years back. I also host a “Faith Walking” support group. We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month 6:30pm @ Refuge Church. The address is 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro SC 29488.
If you battle chronic pain or a chronic illness we would love for you to join us this Thursday 6:30pm at Refuge Church of Walterboro. Everyone in this group understands how these struggles change your life. So, please know that you don’t have to walk alone. We pray you will join us if you could use the support.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
It’s been quite awhile since I posted on this page. In fact, it’s been many months since I discussed my own chronic pain journey. For the most part that’s a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t ever want to forget those who live with chronic pain. I lived in that extreme valley far too long to waste my pain.
Overall, I’ve been doing very well. I truly feel like I’m living my best new normal. Three years ago, I still wondered if I could experience a greater quality of life. After all, I had so many shots, surgeries, physical therapy sessions, and medical appointments. None of those things mixed with lots of hard work was changing anything.
I really don’t think it was any one thing God used to increase my further healing of mind, body, and soul. One, I’ve learned and accepted my new limitations. Two, I’ve learned I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thirdly, I’ve learned that what I eat or drink can definitely increase my body’s inflammation. Fourthly, I’ve learned that unnecessary stress can always escalate my condition. Finally, I’ve learned God never wants to waste an ounce of my pain. God wants my pain to link me purposely with people like you.
I don’t know where life finds you right now. I do know God is there to help those who seek Him wholeheartedly. So many nights in the past my pillow was flooded with tears of sadness. All I chose to do was to keep taking the next God led step. I did all I could do while trusting God for all I couldn’t. Now, I’m seeing God work His miracles in my life daily.
I can’t wait until I have time to fully publish the book God keeps putting in my heart. You will read many never shared before journal entries. You will see how the same God who helped me can help you. You will hear how pain changed my life. Then, how God changed my perspective, peace, comfort and faith.
Just know I’m praying for each of you battling with chronic pain. I know it can hurt so bad and make you feel so low. But, God is still good. Don’t doubt for a moment that you’re hopeless. Keep your little hand in God’s big hand. God will take you through and to a brighter tomorrow. I may have to still face my pain daily. But, I’ve learned how to celebrate with peace, purpose and victory.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
It has been exactly 72 days since my 72 year old dad took his last earthly breath. My last conversation with him was a little over 20 hours prior to his passing. For that moment it was just him and me in the emergency room. Dad made it very clear that he was completely ready for nothing but comfort care. He made it clear that he just didn’t have anymore fight left in him.
His chest got tight and the tears began to roll. He had already asked me three days prior if I would preach his funeral. That conversation was tough enough. But, the last one was the toughest. My dad was finally waving his white flag and that broke his heart. He had never faced a battle all his life that he didn’t defeat. However, he finally knew this battled belonged fully to the Lord.
Suddenly, God put on my heart the words I felt he needed to hear. I said, “Dad it’s okay! We’re all going to be okay. And, I want you to know that you can officially pass me your ministry torch. I promise to do everything I can to minister on your behalf both to family members and friends.” Dad lifted up his hand and just nodded his head up and down. He knew he could trust my words of promise.
Lately, I’ve had a whole lot of increased ministry demands and opportunity. But, it feels like God has actually increased my inner strength. A dear friend just recently told me words I couldn’t help but ponder. He said, “I see your dad pouring through you. I believe he actually passed that torch on to you. A part of him is definitely with you.”
All I can say is my dad’s passing has changed me. I’m compelled not to waste a day. I’m released to just keep being the best version of me led by Jesus Christ. I’m ministering to many who never knew my dad. I’m also ministering to many who were first reached by my dad. All I know is I still feel my dad’s presence and strength near me. I hope I can finish my life’s journey as faithful as my dad finished his earthly journey.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I’ve been a little more silent than most have come to expect from me. Honestly, I’ve really not had much to say or the strength to say it. We all know losing a very close loved one is never easy. Watching someone battle a terminal illness for so long is never easy. Trying to think about what your loved one’s earthly departure will mean going forward is never easy. I guess the only recurring theme right now is nothing feels easy for any of us.
First and foremost, I want my mom to have the most comfort and support possible. My mom is not someone that ever strives to be the center of attention. Nor, will she ever demand someone give her undivided attention. However, there is no way anyone spends 50 years married to someone and just easily moves forward. Her grief journey will take lots of time as she transitions to her new normal. I believe all things considered she’s been doing incredible. Yet, she would tell you in a heartbeat that depends on the time of day. We all know grief is unpredictable and can easily be triggered by the least little thing.
I don’t think my dad’s death totally shocked any of us that it happened. Although, things did progress very quickly at the end. I believe each of us are extremely happy that his misery is over. We praise God he doesn’t have to just try to survive and endure pain from sun up to sun down. He definitely wasn’t experiencing any high quality of life the last few months. You just struggle to accept that you won’t see that person again this side of Heaven. Fortunately, there were some encouraging moments even during his cancer battle. And, we certainly know there is still hope looking forward.
As I write this I’m not doing so for any self-pity. I’m just staying faithful in seeking to be transparent with others who may resonate with our journey. Just because someone is a preacher or a preacher’s wife doesn’t mean we don’t struggle just like everyone else. Regardless of how much ministry we may do with others. We all face pain, disappointment, grief, and tons of unexpected life moments. We have to do the same as others in these times. We have to cling to our faith and believe God for hope in brighter days.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 5:13-18)
I’m well aware that grieving the loss of my dad will take time. I know ahead are a year of firsts without him. In fact, I’m sure there will be many times throughout life where his presence will be majorly missed. However, I also know I must continue to count my blessings today and everyday. So, here are five things I can celebrate even now.
First, I celebrate that I know where my daddy lives now. By grace, through faith in Christ alone he will forever reside in Heaven. A place of perfect peace, no pain, and no more tears. He is doing better than ever and smiling ear to ear. I can only imagine the joy in his heart.
Secondly, I celebrate that I will see my dad again. While I hate facing our temporary time apart. I can look forward to our reunion in Heaven together one day. In Christ, there are no forever goodbyes. So dad I will see you later.
Thirdly, I celebrate that I had my dad for 46 years of my life. He could’ve never made it back from the Vietnam war. He could’ve died many years before due to many very close calls. But, God allowed us years to share together. I got to feel his love for me and express my love for him.
Fourthly, I celebrate the lessons learned. My dad showed me how to walk with God. How to be a good husband and father. Dad taught me how to face adversity and keep walking by faith. Dad showed me how to live and even how to die. Nothing he taught me will be wasted.
Finally, I celebrate I’m still not fatherless. Sure, I will miss my earthly father for a little while. But, my Heavenly Father will continue to watch over me. I will never be alone and I can always call on God the Father. I will miss my daddy with skin. But, my Heavenly Father will walk with me until the very end of this life and forever in the next life. God used my earthly Father to connect me to my forever father.
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3
As most of you know my daddy left this earth for Heaven this past Tuesday, May 18th 2021. I’m writing this date as a day I will never forget this side of Heaven. There’s no doubt it was the best thing to ever happen for dad. But, a day after preaching his funeral reality is quickly hitting my heart. I can only imagine what this feels like in my momma’s heart.
I guess only once you say that final earthly goodbye do you realize how life truly has changed. For an entire week straight I just kept putting mind over matter day and night. I’m typically used to living a recovery lifestyle due to my fragile nerve condition. God carried me every step of the way. But, I woke up today just feeling numb, heavy, and taking deep breaths.
While I’ve remained in bed I’m starting to ponder many things. Like my parents 50th wedding anniversary on June 11th. Or how in the world I will celebrate and preach on Father’s Day? I realize there are a bunch of Firsts awaiting our family. So, I’m having to choose to do what my daddy showed me to do. Just keep taking the next right step. Trust that God will equip you for the next battle.
Gosh I loved my dad to death. While I hated seeing him in his condition. We were closer than ever because of his condition. No more nightly calls or weekly visits. No more hearing his voice except in my heart. No more calling on him not only to pray with him. But, to have him pray with me.
Daddy helped me get through so many tough seasons. I will lean on the strength and wisdom he has instilled in me moving forward. I will not only celebrate his legacy, but I will extend his legacy. I had another really go cry earlier that is always healing for the soul. So, I’m feeling more and more peace.
Our family continues to feel the prayers of so many. Thanks for praying my dad all the way into the day of his eternal appointment. He always said he knew it was only the prayers of so many that kept him going. I look forward to what God has ahead. Also, I know this season of brokenness will only make us stronger in our faith. However, letting go is never easy in real time.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank anyone who has prayed or shown support for our family during this difficult season. There’s something about brokenness that unites us all. It’s never fun to grieve. However, great grief often reflects great love. To love anyone deeply is to wish they never leave your life.
Unfortunately, life is full of many trials, sorrows and losses. Life is short that’s why we have to seize every worthwhile moment. Every breath we have is a gift from God. No one knows when they might breathe their last. Funerals, while we wish they could be avoided. They remind us that we’re just passing through this life. So, we need to make sure we’re prepared for the afterlife.
Preaching my dad’s funeral was by far one of the toughest things I’ve ever attempted. My heart has pounded for days trying to balance my grief with a God called mission. Even during the service I realized my dad taught us way more than I realized. I’m so thankful for my dad and his example. I’m also thankful for two brothers that walked through this with me. Now, I’m just going to exhale and thank God for the strength He gives us all in our times of need. Please continue to pray for my mom.
Jesus said, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Well, it’s the night before my daddy’s funeral. With every hour that passes reality speaks loudly. My dad is no longer living in this world. He’s got a new home and eternal address. He’s in Heaven where everything is perfect and pain free.
However, for now I have to get used to this earthly life without him. No doubt I’m going to miss him. Lord knows my mom is going to grieve deeply. None of us really know how life will change for us. But, we do know things have already changed for the better for him. And, one day through Christ we will all be reunited in Heaven.
My youngest son Asher has definitely struggled to process his granddaddy’s passing. Prior to dad’s death my son had never had a prayer not answered his way. He said, “Daddy, that’s not what I asked God to do. I wanted to keep granddaddy here with us.” Of course, we’ve had to tell him that God always does what He knows is best. Even if it hurts and we’re left shaking our heads.
The first night after dad’s death Asher asked to sleep with me and my wife. He told his momma something I’ve never heard. He said, “maybe when I go to sleep I will see granddaddy in my dreams.” Lord, what do you say to an 11 year old that is experiencing his first death of such a close loved one.
Earlier today our family went and saw my dad in his casket. He looked very peaceful despite how cancer broke down his body. Because of dad’s condition the casket will likely be closed during his visitation. All I’m praying is that dad’s funeral will be everything God wants it to be. Everything shared will come from much prayer and love.
There’s no doubt my daddy was a world changer. Tomorrow will only lead to more lives impacted through him. I’ve asked God to do whatever He wants done. I will share and sing what my dad requested. My brothers will share powerful testimonies of how dad impacted their life.
Tomorrow is going to be a true life celebration and tribute to God. My dad lived his entire life seeking to give God all the glory. Pray that God moves in a powerful way. Pray God changes many lives listening. I’m exhausted so I’m going to bed.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Today, we said a somewhat surprising goodbye to my dad. Even with my hospice experience I just didn’t see it coming this fast. Less than 24 hours after dad was admitted to hospice he breathed his last time this side of Heaven. Most of our very large family got to say their final goodbyes. Evidently dad got the release and relief he needed to finally let go.
For so long we have watched him suffer. Really, this battle for him and mom has been nearly four years. When dad finally drew his last breath our hearts were relieved and shattered both at once. My mom saw her marriage partner of 50 years leave her behind. I saw my dad of 46 years leave me behind. My boys saying goodbye to their granddaddy was quite something to swallow as well.
I’ve finally become a member of a club I never wanted to join. I no longer have an earthly father in this life. To pray with and be encouraged by in this life. We are so happy for his way overdue relief. But, his earthly departure left an instant hole in my heart.
Sadly, my neurological system finally crashed after his passing. I guess I had been just trying to help everyone get through. Next thing I knew my legs gave out from underneath me. It took me quite awhile to recover. My three oldest boys actually ministered to me when I was at my weakest point. It just hurts so much to see your mom so broken hearted and to say goodbye to one of the best dad’s in the world.
Sadly, today was dad’s last dance here on this earth. But, it was his first day in a beautiful place called Heaven. I know He is more whole and happy than ever. I know his pain is gone and his struggles are over. I know it was God’s appointed time for dad to go home. I promised my dad that he will have the best funeral anyone has ever seen.
All I can do now is remember all the good times we shared. Sadly, we’ve experienced the last of many things together. However, I know without a doubt this is not goodbye forever. Instead, it’s just dad I will see you later in a place I can only imagine.
“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
I’ve been by the bedside of hundreds of dying men and women. For years, I’ve felt called by God to be by their bedside. Not that I have some magic words or super powers. Somehow, God has equipped me to help others make a peaceful and hopeful eternal transition.
For the last 17 months I’ve been trying to help my dad make his eternal transition. However, it’s been an entirely different situation. First of all, this is my dad who I dearly love. Two, this man has been my pastor since the day I was born. It’s definitely felt like a complete role reversal to see the strongest man I’ve ever known feeling so weak.
I thought I knew what others were feeling. Boy, was I wrong even though I’ve always been full of compassion. You just can’t know something fully until you have experienced it yourself. Losing a close loved one is never easy. The closer the relationship it just gets harder and harder.
The last 450 plus days have been very long and gone by in a blink. The majority of those nights I had the privilege to call up my daddy. Our conversation always ended with me getting to pray with him. Sometimes my youngest son Asher would actually do the praying. Dad always said “prayer is the best thing anybody can do for me.”
Now, here we are having to pray much differently. I’m not able to call dad up and pray with him. Praise God he is resting comfortably with consistent pain medications. We may have shared our last nightly call and prayer time. I truly feel he has one foot in this world and the other in the next.
Fortunately, my prayers can still be heard and hopefully felt by him. So many things have changed in just one day. You always think you’re ready, but time reveals you’re not. Mom is definitely not ready to be without her spouse. We’re not ready to be without a father and grandfather.
So many raw emotions are felt in the midst of this uncertain season. One thing for certain is I plan to make the most of the time left. What that looks like I can’t tell you. How much time remains together I can’t tell you . All I know is worrying won’t change anything except my blood pressure. So, I’m gonna keep on praying and hope to get some sleep.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Luke 6:27
I’m just getting a chance to catch my breath. Today, has been one of those days I won’t soon forget. Things with dad recently have just kept getting worse and worse. Trying to keep him comfortable and safe became harder and harder for mom. Trying to even figure out what to do next was very overwhelming.
Based on many significant changes dad was transported by ambulance to the hospital. They discovered that dad’s hemoglobin level was the lowest it’s ever been a 6.6. A CT scan revealed that dad has a subdural hematoma. This is a pool of blood between the brain and its outermost covering. It’s usually caused by a head injury strong enough to burst blood vessels. This can cause pooled blood to push on the brain. No wonder dad was always complaining of terrible headaches. Sadly, we had already discovered that dad’s cancer has greatly advanced and keeps breaking down his body.
So, the most difficult decision had to be made. Dad told us he wanted to have complete comfort care. He is absolutely exhausted from this constant battle. Therefore, this afternoon he was admitted to an Agape Hospice house. There he will receive the best comfort care anyone can find. Mom will be allowed to stay with him 24/7. Our family will be able to visit throughout each day.
I knew in my heart this day was coming sooner than later. Dad had just asked me this past Friday would I preach his funeral. However, you don’t know how it’s gonna feel until it does. I’ve cried a bunch and my heart has ached deeply. Seeing my mom and dad hurt so much in different ways crushed my heart. But, we know this is dad’s only hope. To be kept comfortable and to transition to Heaven peacefully. Dad will likely not live more than a couple weeks at best. Honestly, each day will prove unpredictable from our perspective.
As I take another deep breath I’m just really happy for my dad. His misery has been so great and so long. We all have what I call Relief Grief. On one hand you are so happy their pain is finally under control. On the other hand you can’t imagine life without them moving forward. Your emotions can really take you on a roller coaster ride.
I ask you to please, please keep praying for dad and mom. They will have been married 50 years on June 11th. Only God can help them both through this dark valley. I know God has a plan for us all. It’s just right now their hearts are so heavy. I’m believing God will be their great comforter.
Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—“ (John 14:16)(Amplified)
I know I’ve been pretty silent concerning any updates on my dad. That’s because sometimes you just don’t know exactly where things are headed. Dad continues to be very fatigue and not feeling like doing much of anything. Honestly, we’ve barely had one full conversation the last two weeks. I’m lucky if we exchange a few words and have prayer. Dad is just in a tough place physically, emotionally and mentally.
While I keep in contact daily it’s not always guaranteed that dad is even up for a brief prayer. It’s obvious that’s it’s just tough to be in his body. Mom continues to make sure dad stays as comfortable as possible. Doctors have simply put everything on hold at the moment. His chemotherapy and heart valve surgery are all paused until further notice.
For the second straight week dad has had to have a full platelet and blood transfusion. It appears dad’s progressed cancer is keeping his blood platelets from rising. Yesterday, they gave dad more blood platelets. Then, due to antibodies still in his blood. Dad had to go back to the hospital today for his special ordered blood transfusion.
Mom certainly has a lot weighing on her shoulders. She is basically playing nurse morning, day and night. We keep hoping things will change for the better. But, so far dad’s decline appears to be the only thing certain at times. He continues to lose weight, strength and drive. However, he has certainly felt lower before. It’s just this time some of his cancer numbers are much higher.
For now, dad will receive the palliative care he needs. Hopefully, him and mom will have the in home support they need in this season. Next Friday, dad will see one of his oncologist for a further evaluation. All we really know right now is dad’s body is just too weak to start back any chemotherapy or to replace his leaking heart valve. We’re leaving all the rest in God’s hands. Please keep praying for dad and mom. I wish there was an easy button I could mash on their behalf. However, this kind of valley you can only walk through with God’s help.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Written May 5th, 2021
Dad has been spending most of his recent days in the bed. It has been obvious he can barely hold his head up most of the time. Mom has been doing an excellent job of trying to keep him comfortable morning, day and night. But, time has revealed that things haven’t been trending in a better direction.
Dad went to Charleston Oncology earlier to get his blood platelets checked. Afterwards, the nurse called us back to discuss his lab results. Despite dad’s blood platelet transfusion a week ago. Dad’s numbers have only gotten worse.
First, we discovered dad has lost another 10 pounds since his last weight check. Secondly, dad’s blood platelet level has now dropped from 18 down to 4. Also, dad’s blood level has dropped to a dangerous level. He also appears the be very dehydrated.
Dad and mom are presently at Trident Hospital where they will spend the rest of the day. Dad is getting both a blood platelet and blood transfusions. He told us he is just absolutely wiped out. It’s all he can do to think and process the next steps.
Please keep those prayers coming. The heart break of these reality checks are so hard to swallow for them both. They say dad should definitely feel some better later today after he gets the blood transfusion. Tomorrow we will meet with a palliative care nurse. Plus, his heart doctor will be informed of his current status. God only knows what each day will bring. Whatever comes our way I know God has a plan.
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Yesterday, my dad received a blood transfusion. That blood definitely perked him up and strengthened him some. Unfortunately, he is still very weak. His appetite has been way off for weeks and that continues to be the case. Dad has lost a bunch of weight over the last few months.
Tonight, he has been suffering with bad muscle cramps all over his body. Mom tried her best to help him work them out. Dad definitely needs more fluid intake. The cancer makes him sweat so much. It’s nothing for him to have to change shirts several times a day. Mom says he goes through 20-25 shirts a week.
For now, everything seems to be followed by a question mark. We know the cancer is continuing to attack. We know any chemotherapy or radiation serves as a threat. Especially when you’re weak as pond water, have kidney disease, diabetic and need every good cell possible.
Dad’s strength is definitely very low. We have no idea when or if he will start back chemotherapy. We do know his heart valve replacement surgery will likely have to wait beyond June 3rd. He is just too weak right now. In the meantime, dad is just stuck in a waiting chamber. Fortunately, we know him and mom are not in that chamber alone. Thanks for your continued prayers!
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Anyone who has watched someone suffer knows it’s just not easy. Anyone who has lived in nonstop pain knows it can feel unbearable. These first two sentences would definitely describe my mom and dad in that order. Things don’t feel very hopeful in their house right now. Dad’s pain has just been keeping him down morning, day and night. Like someone drowning he can only come up for air occasionally. Life right now just seems overwhelming with every step.
My dad needs a breakthrough. The kind that doctors can’t fully deliver. The kind that just worrying can’t fix. The kind that dad can’t give himself. Dad needs our prayers to carry him through another season of breathtaking pain. He hasn’t quit fighting. He just needs God to fight for him.
I wholeheartedly believe our greatest breakthroughs happen when God’s people pray. So I’m asking you to keep those prayers coming. Dad and mom are both exhausted in this nonstop journey. It’s getting harder and harder for dad to even smile. Who can easily smile when pain is overwhelming you all the time?
Mom and dad will never be the type to fight for people’s attention. They will never think they are the only ones who struggle. However, they need intercession by those who sincerely care and believe. I can’t fix things myself, but I know a man who can! Please join me in lifting them up to the greatest physician.
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Mark 19:26
Written May 3rd – 10pm
My youngest son Asher has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known. He cares so deeply about people and animals. Just the thought of someone’s pain brings him to his knees. He always prays the most heartfelt prayers. That makes sense because he always says “daddy they come from the heart.”
Tonight he prayed with his granddaddy and Mimi as he has done so many times. However, this time just felt different as he connected our hearts to God’s heart. He always prays for them, their dog and cat. He prays God will give them peace, courage, comfort and strength. He prays that they might know God loves them and that we love them.
On our way home tonight my 11yr old just started crying in the back seat. He said, “I just don’t like to see granddaddy in pain. I don’t want him to ever go to Heaven without me. I also don’t want Mimi to be alone and sad.” Honestly, it’s those moments that leave you pretty tongue tied and with a lump in your throat.
Yet, as I put him in bed his faith surfaced again. He prayed the most heartfelt and believing prayer. He prayed for all of his family, his fish and even a recently deceased snail. He just cares so much and always prays from the heart. God keeps growing his faith even in the midst of discovering the constant heartaches of life. He really is my little faith walker and inspires me to keep faith walking everyday.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
You can look at dad’s numbers and see how drastically his blood platelet levels have dropped over time. The last few months of chemotherapy have really been tough on his body. There are so many different kinds of chemotherapy for Multiple Myeloma Cancer. However, this particular one is obviously not agreeing with dad’s system. I’m praying the doctor makes a change very soon.
Containing dad’s cancer has been critical. It’s not just fighting the cancer, but holding back extra pain. However, his platelet numbers have drastically changed since first discovering his cancer back in December 2019. In the past 3 months alone dad’s platelet numbers have been reduced to 1/13th of what they were before.
They’ve made it clear his present chemotherapy is likely the catalyst for such low platelets. Also, his struggling aortic heart valve can lower them. Both of these things have collided together the past few months. They did give dad a platelet transfusion. But, it will take time to elevate things. They just arrived home and both are exhausted. We’re just asking God to keep showing us the next right step. We are very thankful for every prayer!
Past 3 Months Of Platelets Declining…
4/28/21 (Today) 18
This all started the same time dad started this new chemotherapy!
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
Well, dad got up this morning with his pain seemingly more bearable than usual. So, him and mom headed to Charleston Oncology for his appointment. From everything mom could see they figured he would definitely be able to get this week’s chemotherapy. That was if his blood platelet level was okay. It usually is after he skips an entire week of treatment.
Mom has to wait outside while dad is in there for treatment. So, I decided to call dad just to check back on him. He said, “Son, I’m sorry but I will have to call you back. They are about to take me over to the hospital. My platelet level is only 18.” Mom could not believe it when I called her back. I could tell she was in shock based on how things appeared to be better than usual. Mom immediately headed inside to understand what is actually happening.
So, please pray for dad and mom. This is definitely the lowest his platelets have ever been. They will be doing a platelet transfusion. Then, he should get to go straight home. But, I will know more details soon. In the meantime, please lift him up in prayer. Yesterday, it was confirmed he will have aortic heart valve replacement surgery on June 2nd. We are just continuing to trust that God is in control.
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. HE NEVER CHANGES or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17
Anytime you’re in the fight of your life everyday is a blessing. But, lately dad and mom have been carrying a very heavy burden. Yesterday was another tough pill to swallow. Dad went to get his weekly chemotherapy only to discover his body couldn’t handle it. His blood platelet level was the lowest ever at just 35. All of his chemo just has to be stopped for now.
Everything seems to be at a standstill except for dad’s cancer, heart valve issues and discomfort. Dad’s head has been killing him this evening. All we can keep doing is praying for breakthroughs. Him and mom had another rough night with very little sleep. Tomorrow dad will receive his fifth straight day of radiation. This is not treating the cancer. It’s just trying to knock out some of dad’s pain.
Cancer is such a viscous beast leading to many ups and downs. Waiting on doctors to act in real time can really test your patience. Sadly, dad’s cancer numbers will keep climbing without chemotherapy. But, no matter what he needs his aortic heart valve replaced ASAP or the rest will be meaningless.
These kind of seasons can make you feel so helpless. They test your faith and demand your patience. You’re lack of control forces you to realize only God is in control. But, we can’t be led by our feelings alone. We’ve gotta keep praying and pressing forward. Every prayer really does make such a difference. And my parents are grateful for everyone of them. We’re also praying for many others who are battling these days.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
Dad went back to the radiologist today. After looking at the pet scan they marked him all up in preparation for more radiation. He will have 3 different areas treated all at once on his hips and back. Hopefully, he will experience some much needed relief in the weeks to come.
Concerning his chemotherapy and need for an aortic heart valve replacement. Dad’s doctor feels they need to finish out this month’s chemotherapy treatment. Then, she wants him to take the entire month of May off from chemotherapy. We have no doubt that a month without treatment will drive his numbers way up. But, they feel his body needs the break in order to get it ready for his aortic valve replacement hopefully by June.
At this point, you just have to keep taking the next best step. Seems dad has things coming from every direction. He has to watch his diabetes, kidneys, cancer, heart valve, and deal with constant pain in so many areas. Dad said that fighting in the Vietnam war as a marine taught him how to fight one battle at a time.
Dad does know a little something about fighting for your life. He’s had many different ways he could’ve lost his life through his earthy years. He also knows that if it’s not your time it’s not your time. God will have the final say on all these matters. We just need to keep trusting in Him every step of the way.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die..” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
First of all, I want say that my parents are two of the most wonderful people I know. I’m proud of their Godly example and thankful to be called their son. They say that adversity introduces a man to himself. Well, if that’s the case, mom and dad have demonstrated they are far beyond average. Their faith in God keeps them going and showing others how God can take you through anything.
Today, was a long, eye opening day. First, we had a visit with dad’s cancer doctor at Charleston Oncology. Dad’s great need for continued pain management and necessary treatment were discussed in depth. They will continue chemotherapy as dad’s body will allow. They will do concentrated radiation when possible to reduce severe pain. They will provide palliative care to help dad and mom deal with the pain and stress associated with such chronic illness.
This afternoon’s appointment was definitely the biggest bombshell of the day. Dad recently had an echocardiogram done of his heart. Fifteen years ago he had open heart surgery to have his aortic heart valve replaced. That new valve had been doing great all these years. But, suddenly it’s leaking very badly.
Somehow dad’s aortic heart valve has suddenly deteriorated the past few months. This could very well be one of the major side effects of his chemotherapy. No matter what the cause that heart valve must be replaced ASAP. Like, the doctors says he hopes they can do this procedure in possibly two weeks.
Believe it or not, having this aortic heart valve replaced is suddenly more important than dad’s cancer treatment. If dad doesn’t have it done he will have congestive heart failure. This is not something that can wait by any means. So, as soon as possible dad will go through some different testing and they will do a heart catheterization.
Once they fully know what they are facing they will seek to do the replacement. Praise God, they no longer have to open your chest to change out these heart valve. They actually compress a new one and put it over the one that’s there. They just push the old one to the side. This new procedure is called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement.
Dad’s doctor is very confident in doing this procedure. Plus he has made it very clear that this is an urgent matter. This has definitely contributed further to dad’s extra fatigue on top of the cancer. Even if dad’s blood platelet level is too low they can do a a platelet transfusion beforehand.
While this will have to move along very quickly. The doctor told dad to not lose his focus on fighting the multiple myeloma. He can still continue with treatment, but there may be some weeks of total lay off. This has been a lot for dad and mom to swallow all in one day. However, we had a powerful prayer time earlier putting all of this in God’s hands. We have seen time and time again that we serve an All Powerful, All Knowing, and Always Loving Heavenly Father.
You know, it’s really easy in these moments to worry yourself to death. However, when you know everything is on God’s shoulders it changes everything. What once seemed impossible is now possible. What once felt like an accident becomes a purposeful appointment. There are many things I don’t know. But, I know God can and will take care of us all. Join us in praying for the breakthroughs!
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26
Tomorrow my dad has a very big appointment with his cancer doctor. He just finished another week of radiation. It remains to be seen if dad will get tomorrow’s weekly scheduled chemotherapy infusion. That depends on his blood work. His pain has been very up and down the last several days. Most of the time he’s just trying to make it from one hour to the next. Each time I’ve seen him he looks so exhausted. This continuous day and night battle has definitely taken its toll on him.
For the first time in over a year I will be joining mom and dad inside this critical doctor’s appointment. Tomorrow we will discover all the recent pet scan reveals. It would be hard to not think dad’s cancer isn’t wreaking even more havoc. Dad is constantly pointing to so many areas full of breath taking pain. His good moments have definitely been rare moments.
My heart pounds as I ponder what doctors might say. I hope any truth we need to hear is revealed. But, it doesn’t mean you’re ever fully ready to hear that truth. It just seems that things are getting very real and more uncertain. All we can keep doing is praying God’s will to be done. Only God knows and sees the bigger picture. So, we will continue to trust God and His plans for us all.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
Yesterday and today especially my dad has really been dealing with lots of pain. Seems like a fire that is never quite put out. When it’s bad it’s really bad. His shoulders, hips, back, legs and obviously many places throughout his body have been devastated by his cancer. Every day is a different battle, but still much the same. Apart from a miracle this cancer can’t really be stopped by man.
Now, none of us are throwing in the towel on hope. But, we all know you reach a point of major decision. Do you keep going to nonstop treatments and appointments? Or do you focus on comfort and some quality of life? Sadly, there hardly seems to be any place in between most of the time. Either dad is foggy or asleep so he can be comfortable. Or he has to endure pain that will bring any man to their knees.
I’m just not somebody who beats around the bush concerning this stuff. Who can love anyone and not want them to be comforted? Who can love anyone and not want to keep them on earth as long as possible? Of course, dad is the patient whose body is so weary and broken inside. Mom is the one who observes this brokenness from sun up to sun down. They both carry such a heavy load in their hearts.
There are many more decisions ahead in this journey. Only God knows when this battle will be over. All I know is watching someone suffer so much carries a great heaviness with it. You can’t unsee or forget certain things you will always remember. All we want period is what is best for dad. Whatever he wants is always what we want. Keep praying for his pain to be kept under control and for God to guide their every decision.
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Romans 8:26
Anyone who has followed my pain journey long knows I’ve had a lot of rough nights in the past. It used to be that the only time I felt any relief was in my sleep. Night after night felt like a pain driven nightmare. Back then my prayers seemed like whispers. I really began to think nothing would ever change. All I could do is hold on to faith.
Fortunately, God proved my gut feelings wrong. Somehow, some way my life slowly turned around two years ago. Typically, my pain is usually bearable. I just have to live mindful of my condition. This requires living a recovery lifestyle, watching my diet and staying ahead of the pain.
Tonight has not been a good pain night. My entire body is flooded with nerve pain. I feel miserable and can’t wait for things to settle down. But, this unexpected flare up reminded me how far God has brought me. Praise God, most nights are no longer like this one. Maybe, I needed the reminder to remember God’s goodness!
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3
Had a really good visit with my parents tonight. Dad and I were talking earlier tonight about the ministry. How very challenging and rewarding it can be. How he has seen me have to deal with many of the challenges he once faced in his 48 years as a pastor.
We both agreed that pastoring is a calling. It’s not something a man just decides he wants to do. Neither of us were thinking about being a pastor when we grew up. God just prepared us long before we were ready. Then, when that clear call from God came we surrendered all to Jesus.
There’s something about talking to someone who understands your particular calling. I was 18 when I surrendered my life to full time ministry. Not once before that day had I ever pondered being in the ministry. Then, one evening an evangelist extended the invitation to me. He asked, “Is there anyone here that feels God is calling them to full time ministry?” I didn’t even know fully what that meant, but I knew God was calling me to surrender my vocational future to Him.
The rest is history as I’ve been surrendering daily to that call for the past 27 years. There are many people that I minister to now, that my dad ministered to their families years before. I always seek to tell my dad that I realize he has retired from being a pastor. But, the eternal seeds God planted through him and mom over the years are still growing.
“Such confidence before God is ours through Christ. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim that anything comes from us, but our competence comes from God. And He has qualified us as ministers..”
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
It’s just one hour after resurrection Sunday. I’ve had a very long day. After preaching two Easter services we had to be at two different family gatherings. After a 14 hour day my body is just struggling to settle down.
Easter was a God made day in many ways. First, I got 7 1/2 hours of sleep on Saturday night. Secondly, when I woke up I felt good and my voice was much stronger. Thirdly, God just showed up and showed out at both Sunday services. It’s always obvious when God takes over because it’s nothing you could credit to yourself.
Yes, all of my dad’s prayers were answered today. Him and mom were able to attend our 11am worship service while listening from their van. Also, God gave dad enough strength to gather with our entire family for lunch. To some these things may not sound like a big deal. But, to a man who knows his days on earth are limited. Life is all about Faith, Family, and Friends. I may start having dad pray for me every Saturday night.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Well, after literally being up all last night. I’m hoping my nighttime meds will have me fast asleep soon. Tomorrow is not just any Sunday for me. It’s world changing resurrection Sunday. I really want to be at my very, very best. However, I’m not actually feeling my best right now.
My voice has been struggling since last night. So I’ve sipped on a few cups of hot apple cider and swallowed some honey. I’ve also been limiting my words as much as possible. I only made one phone call today and that was to check on my parents.
Fortunately, dad’s pain was under control at that moment. I told dad that my voice was struggling and my body was weary. I’ve just put a lot of effort into getting ready for multiple Easter services both online and in person. I told him if he was up to it I needed to changed places with him tonight. I told dad this time I needed him to pray over me.
Of course, he stated that he always prays for me. But, that he would be glad to pray right now with me. In that moment, dad had no limitations whatsoever. Why? Because the power found in prayer is not about our strength or stamina. It’s about seeking God for the supernatural that only He can deliver in Jesus name.
I don’t recall every word he prayed. It did stand out that he said “Lord it’s in our weakness we learn how to find our true strength in you.” My past brokenness walking in pain and dad’s present brokenness has really put us both on the same wave length. We know we can’t even walk without God holding our hand.
Any brokenness in dad’s voice was not just because he is getting weaker. It’s because the weaker he gets the more he is aware of his desperate need for God to breath life into him. Dad’s sincere prayer over me increased my peace and raised my expectations. I know we serve a God who can and will take care of our every need. When you do what’s right according to God’s will you can’t go wrong. I look forward to God taking my little and doing a whole lot more due to His resurrection power. Now, it’s time to get some sleep!
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
I’m typically in bed by at least 10pm every night. I’m generally asleep at the latest by midnight. Usually my nighttime medications help me fall asleep sometime in that window of time. However, tonight has been one of those rare occasions. Here it is 7am and I’ve not slept a wink all night.
Not really sure what the biggest reason is for my struggle to sleep. I’ve not slept great the last few nights. I have been way too busy mentally all week. A whole lot has been continually on my mind and in my prayers. I’m also a preacher who has done everything I can to prepare for multiple Easter services.
These days I feel like I have to wear a lot of different hats. However, my health really limits how much weight I can actually carry on my shoulders. I find that periodically you need to have these seasons. Times that force you to take deep breaths and revaluate your approach to life.
I believe most people feel out matched in this day and time. It may look different in each of our lives. But, we each have a cross to bear. Just like Jesus we have to strive to stay clean and close to our Heavenly Father. We’ve got to keep taking the next right step following Jesus with every step.
“Then he Jesus to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
The longer you live I really believe your faith should grow. As you realize your limitations. It should make you realize your desperate need for God. The older you get the more you should ponder life after death. You should think more about how what you are doing in this life will impact the life to come.
I really don’t know how anyone can even stay sane without turning to God. Life is too hard and full of so many heartaches. We’re all so desperate for God’s grace, goodness, comfort, protection and direction. There’s just too many moments that will leave you shaking your head. We weren’t meant to walk alone, but with God and each other.
Everyday, I realize there is a God and I’m not Him. Everyday, I start by giving God the reigns and striving to give him all the glory. My faith is always a work in progress. Every season brings new challenges and tests that God uses to develop my faith. All I really know for sure is I can’t even walk without God holding my hand.
“O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Oh what a joy it was to finally talk with my dad on the phone earlier. It’s been at least a week since he could even dialogue at all with me. His pain has just been blinding and disrupting his life so much. I just kept praying that we could hopefully see him smile again.
This morning they only gave him half of his normal weekly chemo infusion. They had to dial things back due to his weakened body. But, thanks to his pain actually being under control this evening dad sounded himself for once. Just hearing him talk for nearly 40 minutes had me smiling ear to ear. I told dad I looked forward to going to bed with a smile on my face instead of tears in my heart.
Dad just cried and cried before he got off the phone. Said he never meant for any of us to have to hurt over him. I assured him that it’s a blessing for him to still be with us and a blessing to be able to be there for him.
As tears fall, I must say that pastoring my dad was never something I envisioned. But if you can’t minister to your own family you shouldn’t be ministering to other families. This has been the most painful privilege of my life. Even when the heart aches I know my strength and faith are being renewed.
Funny how these seasons really force you to ponder what really matters in life. You just can’t escape the brevity of life or the frailty of mankind. We think we’re so strong, but we’re so weak apart from Christ. We think we’re in control until we lose all sense of control. We think we will live forever until something threatens our life.
I’m so thankful that God is using this season to strengthen my praying knees and open my spiritual eyes. Even in the broken moments God is making something beautiful. God keeps proving Himself faithful to dad, mom and each of us. I will trust God’s plans wherever that leads.
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
Well, dad’s doctor’s appointment went as well as we could expect. His blood platelet level has doubled. Therefore, he will receive his weekly chemo infusion tomorrow. Hopefully his body can handle more treatment. Based on his present frailty that will only happen through prayer.
Now, dad’s greatest felt pain was definitely addressed. He will have appointment with the radiologist as soon as possible. Then, he will undergo more radiation. Hopefully, the left shoulder that’s killing him so much can be comforted in some way.
Regardless of any further treatment dad’s pain management can’t afford to stop. Mom will continue to do all she can to keep dad comfortable morning, day and night. This has certainly proven to be a tall task when it comes to staying on top of dad’s pain. Unfortunately, when it’s bad it’s really bad. But, he does have relief at times they just have to proactively manage his pain.
Only God knows where things go from here. We will see rather quickly whether any further treatment knocks dad’s numbers right back down. He really doesn’t have a whole lot of strength left to overcome anymore decline. But, dad is simply not done fighting. And, I can’t blame him for his fight.
The great news is this doctor visit was very productive in at least giving them options of some hope and relief. It’s been a long day for dad and mom. Hopefully, they can both get some much needed rest. Praise God. dad’s night time meds do have him comfortable at the moment. Thank you all for your continued prayers.
“Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” Mark 9:29
Dad’s unpredictable pain continues to make his life at best feel bearable. He and mom really don’t know their days from their nights anymore. Mom has to practically help dad up 24/7 for him to safely get up anytime. Dad’s left shoulder is basically useless and causing him insane pain.
A walker is used at all times inside the house for safety. However, it’s hard to operate with only one useful arm and so many cracking bones. As dad says his hips and shoulders make actual crunching sounds often. Dad actually makes a lot of different sounds that indicate his body is so discombobulated.
All I know is dad is at a real crossroads. Of course, they know he has to have steady comfort care. But, we have no idea how they will handle his chemo treatments moving forward. For now all treatment has been halted. And my dad does hope to keep fighting the cancer at this time.
Yes, he knows that the chemo itself causes him many of his present difficulties. He also knows that if his cancer numbers are allowed to accelerate much it will disrupt every part of his body. Things could go from bad to worse in a heartbeat.
Tomorrow dad will go for a doctor visit at Charleston Oncology. Pray that whatever needs to be done will be done. Pray dad won’t go another day without the best possible comfort care plan in place. Pray Gods directs mom and dad on how to keep taking the next right step. Pray they both get some much needed sleep tonight. They are both exhausted and need some healing rest and peace.
I sure wish there was an easy button. Unfortunately, all they can do is walk through this valley together holding onto God’s hand. God knows what each of us need for each new day. All we need to do is keep asking Him to reveal His will to us. God will not only show us the way, but He will never forsake us along the way. I know God is with them every step of the way.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you about dad. One, I’ve been totally off social media for the past week. Two, there just really hasn’t been a whole to say until recently. For the past few weeks dad has continued to rapidly lose weight even with a good appetite. I would love to blame his continuing chemotherapy. However, I’m afraid it’s his cancer as his numbers significantly increased the past two months.
Dad has continued to feel extremely weak. His pain has seemed more manageable compared to the past. But, his get up and go has gotten up and gone. He has lost so much muscle and resembles a shell of the man we once knew. That alone has really taken its toll on him.
Yesterday, him and mom went to Charleston for his weekly chemotherapy infusion. Dad was in there waiting for over an hour hooked up and ready to go. Then, a nurse came into to tell dad they had to stop his chemo treatment for now. Based on his blood work dad is walking on very shaky ground.
Dad was not able to have his chemo treatment yesterday. His blood platelet level was extremely low. The normal range is 142-424. His number was 46 yesterday. Unfortunately, he already took his 12 oral chemo capsules that morning because they didn’t know about the platelets until he had his lab work done. He also lost a couple more pounds. He was told not to do anything that could cause him to start bleeding and to be very careful to avoid falling.
Dad has pretty much just laid around all day. I know the air has been knocked out of his sails in so many ways. Physically, emotionally and mentally he is in an outright war. He and mom have shared a lot of long days and many tears. Only God knows what each new day will bring. This has been an up and down roller coaster ride for sure.
Please continue to pray for God’s protection over dad. He basically has no immune system presently. Please pray for God’s peace and comfort for both mom and dad. Fortunately, I do know they keep placing everything in God’s hands. Even still, these seasons and long days can create such a heaviness.
My parents have prayed for and ministered to so many people throughout the years. Now, they need their own prayer warriors. I know no matter what God has a plan. I just want them to feel God’s love, peace and promise through it all. No matter what we all know God is good and faithful.
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5
When you see this video you just see an 11yr old boy having normal fun. When I see this young man riding what he calls “Rolling Thunder” I see the power of God at work. My youngest son Asher is one of the sweetest kids I know. However, he faces numerous physical, emotional, and mental challenges. He struggles with learning, countless phobias and pretty much anything physically challenging.
He’s been told the only sport he could ever excel in would be swimming. He’s never been able to ride a bike or even run like an average boy. He has gone to countless therapists and has come a long way. To him just being able to enjoy this rolling bike excites him so much.
Therefore, it makes me and God smile to watch him roll downhill with a true feeling of freedom. As he told me before “Daddy I’m just the way God made me.” Don’t measure your progress based on what you can’t do. Celebrate what with only God’s help you can do. Your limitations will not hinder God’s expectations for your life.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
I woke up today in quite a fix. It was all I could do to get out of my bed. Sadly, it’s nothing that ever takes me by total surprise. I knew my nervous system was out of whack. I knew that nothing would be easy for me today.
Anyone who has battled long with chronic pain knows what I mean. It is such an unpredictable life disrupter. You can feel completely fine one moment. Then, complete at its mercy the next. The pain can be paralyzing and so deflating. You lose confidence in doing anything when the pain is blinding.
Fortunately, these days don’t always repeat themselves. Yet, in the moment you just wonder how long your condition will hold you hostage. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with struggles. You never get used to feeling so low, heavy hearted and overwhelmed.
My greatest confidence often comes from the past. Remembering how many times God has calmed the storm. Recalling time and time when things were even worst. Yet, God made a way every time I didn’t feel I could carry on. God has been so faithful time and time again. So, I will trust God again for my strength, protection, direction comfort and relief.
“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.” Psalm 6:2
Last night and really all day my lower back pain has been constant. Fortunately, God gave me the grace and strength to preach two outdoors services. I’ve learned how to put mind over the matter when necessary. But, eventually the pain rushing through my body like a tornado threatens everything. It affects me physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally.
However, I sincerely mean it when I say “Thank you God for my pain.” Yes, even the pain that runs so deep at times it paralyzes me. Yes, even the pain that at times steals my joy and keeps me uncomfortable. Yes, even the pain that used to keep me up all night. Yes, even the pain that has made me cry a river many times in the past.
You see, without my pain I couldn’t relate to your pain. Without being in the fire I couldn’t relate to how it feels under fire. My pain gives me compassion for the hurting. It gives me humility towards others instead of puffed up pride in myself. It connects my heart to other’s hearts. Why? Because it takes pain to understand pain.
If we allow God to use our pain for His glory. Our pain will become God’s greatest platform instead of our greatest excuse. It will allow us to more effectively comfort and minister to others. While pain has many different languages. Pain puts us all on level ground in need of God and each other. I’m grateful for my pain in that respect.
“ He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
I understand what’s it’s like to have a chronic condition that can take you down without a moments notice. Honestly, I can’t lift over 5 pounds and it not give me fits. I can’t stand or sit for over an hour and not hurt like crazy. I can’t handle half of what I once could mentally or physically before my nerve damage. After 5 1/2 years of this constant realization I’ve had to accept my new normal.
For reasons I do and don’t understand God has allowed this melting pain. I used to just fight with it. Now, I just let God fight for me. I seek to control everything I can. Then, I have to trust God with everything I can’t. My chronic pain is a constant disruption to most of my plans. But, I still believe wholeheartedly it has been allowed for God’s greater plans.
So, don’t worry about what people think about you. Don’t think you can fill explain your condition to others who have not experienced it themselves. Let go and let God lead your heart. And He will turn your pain into a platform for His glory. Recognize your limits, but understand your condition doesn’t limit God.
“O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Jonah 1:14
Let me begin by saying that anything I’m about to share has been proven. It has proven to at least help reduce inflammation in your body. To keep those of us who are already one degree away from boiling stay sane. If you battle daily with inflammation in your body you need to listen. If you know somebody else that does you need to share this truth.
Many of you know that I battle with severe nerve damage due to a lower back injury. This pain when it reaches it’s highest point doesn’t just ache a little bit. If it gets out of hand it consumes every part of my body from my feet into my face. I used to think I was going crazy, but thank God I learned over time how to at least keep things manageable.
Over two years ago I started what is called the elimination diet. On that diet I only eat mainly lean meats, fruits, nuts, veggies, and beans. I definitely stay away from high levels of caffeine and sugar. Both of those things have proven time and time again to be my kryptonite. Anyway, with the elimination diet and exercise I lost over 40 pounds. But, most of all I got my chronic pain much more under control.
Sure, I have to monitor my overall stress load, sleeping habits, and even exercise. But, nothing changed my life more than a change in my diet. Every time I think my diet can’t be helping me that much. God proves that it has certainly been a key to my miracle breakthrough. Trust me, once you’ve going through Hell for nearly four years. You can’t help but see your blessing once the storm is calmed.
Now, there are two things I know have a HUGE impact on anyone’s chronic pain. Those two things are Caffeine and Sugar. Just this past week I learned that lesson the hard way again. The past two week’s I got a lot more liberal with my diet. Once my body got a taste of sugar I found myself stuffing my face with goodies at least once a day. Then, last Thursday reality knocked me down again.
Last Thursday I didn’t eat anything crazy. I had one serving of Lasagna , a salad, and very little otherwise. But, I did drink one cup of coffee, one medium sized Red Bull, and one can of coke zero. Realize, these are not things I drink ever on a consistent basis. But, on that day I desperately needed the boost to concentrate.
I went to bed that night with no problem. Then, less than two hours after sleeping my body went crazy. You see, my nerves are so sensitive I can feel anything that contaminates the body. For at least three hours I felt out of my mind. My entire neurological system was going haywire. All I could do was pray, take all the medications possible, and wait on the storm to pass.
At that time, I just started drinking as much water as my body can consume per hour. The next few days were tough. But, all I did was go back on my diet. I started back drinking at least 100 ounces of water daily. I made sure I’ve not had anything with a high level of sugar. I’ve not had even one ounce of caffeine in 5 days.
Just like I’ve experienced in the past my nerve pain once again became bearable and under control. There is no way anyone reading my future book will be able to deny the impact of diet in my healing. Once you’ve spent four years mainly in a bed or bath you’re just so grateful. You’re so thankful for some answers and hope for a better tomorrow.
Now, the only reason I’m writing this is for that one person who needs the same hope facing their chronic pain. If you’re hurting enough you should be all ears right now. I’m telling you that a change in your diet will make a big difference. It won’t fix everything. But, it can definitely improve things dramatically. I feel it has improved me at least 50-75 percent.
SO, please hear me when I tell you all that caffeine and sugar is just feasting on your body’s inflammation. You’re just pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire. You need to make a change if you hope to see a change. It won’t fix things overnight. But, for me even one week made a massive difference.
If you want to recover as much as possible. You have to be willing to live a recovery lifestyle. Take one right step at a time. Eliminate things that you know you shouldn’t eat or do. Let the hopeful relief from that pain push you to make the drastic changes necessary. I pray this post helps at least one person who needed to hear it. God bless you as you walk by faith through you chronic pain.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Apart from a miracle I will be fighting with my body in some way for the rest of my life. I try not to dwell on it or feed it. I try not to allow that to be my permanent life excuse. However, my body reminds me daily that the doctor wasn’t lying to me. I still recall him saying “Son, I don’t care who tells you anything otherwise. You will have permanent nerve damage the rest of your life.”
At first those words deflate and almost paralyze you. The good news is my glass is half full not half empty. That same doctor said I could’ve easily been paralyzed based on my MRI. And, that without my first surgery I would’ve definitely ended up in a wheelchair soon. Praise God I’m not physically paralyzed or in a wheelchair.
Even as the pain runs deep in me now. I’m highly motivated to do whatever I can while seeking to trust God with everything I can’t. I’ve had time to learn this is a daily journey not a forty yard dash. We’re always having to get our minds renewed so we can live with a renewed focus.
Everyday I will choose to get up and live my best life now. I will continue eating and drinking only things that have proven to ease my inflammation and pain. I will do what exercises I can to keep my body in the best shape possible. I will keep praying and trusting God to use this purposeful pain. There’s no doubt God uses it to keep me humble, compassionate and God dependent.
What I won’t do is accept my felt limitations. God is bigger than anything that comes our way. Whether it be adversity on the inside or outside of us. It’s in the struggle we truly learn how to faith walk. As we learn to approach God daily with a childlike faith. Somehow God picks us up and carries us forward.
God has brought me so far and taught me so much. Yet, the daily struggle is very real when nothing physical comes easy. But, God has taken me this far and He will take me further. Here I am Lord once again free falling into your arms. Looking to you to finish your story for your glory in my life. I fully trust you moving forward to finish the work you started.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
Last night was a night I would rather forget. Every nerve in my body crashed leaving me just a shell of myself. For nearly 3 hours my heart was pounding and my body was burned within. It’s like having an outer body experience you can’t fully explain. You feel trapped inside and the nerve pain rocked me from head to toe.
While I would rather forget last night it’s critical I remember. There’s no doubt this was a byproduct of too much sugar and caffeine getting into my system. I eaten clean for so long now my body just didn’t know how to handle it. The last two weeks I’ve got more and more slack with my diet. If I ever wondered if my diet really helped that much I no longer have any diet.
I feel majorly sleep deprived and bruised all over. But, other than that I just feel some PTSD after last night’s neurological meltdown. Where would I be if God hadn’t given me answers? How have I been able to carry on all this time except by the grace of God. Last night revealed that God has been so good to me. That experience felt like Hell, but most days I’m now able to enjoy my new normal. Thanks for your prayers!
Well, I was asleep for an hour or more. Suddenly, my nervous system literally woke me up going completely crazy. Every part of my body has been constantly vibrating. The least little sound, movement and even my own voice sends me into orbit. This experience is like having an internal earthquake that is way off the charts.
When my nerves get this way there’s very little I can do. I have already thrown every bit of medication I have at this fire. All I can do now is sit up, pray and try to process my emotions. It’s one of those things you just can’t fully explain. It’s like having an internal seizure that seems to have no end. You feel trapped in your own body as you pray for the storm to calm down.
This makes three nights in a row that have been very painful. This stuff tonight makes you feel crazy. You don’t feel like yourself and definitely don’t feel in control. I’m afraid this fluid commotion has been building up for days. History has taught me certain factors that likely brought this own.
My stress level has been very high. My days have been very long. My eating habits have not been the consistently what they should be. My intake of any daily caffeine always serves as a threat. Sadly, today I drank an energy drink for the first time in a long time. I knew I was playing with fire and it could cause me to eventually crash.
There’s something about taurine, caffeine and sugar that can crash my entire nervous system. The good news is I’m calming down even as I write this for you. Also, I’m so glad I know things I can do to hopefully prevent this from happening again. So many times in the past I just felt hopeless, clueless and desperate in these moments.
Now, I know better what can get things settled back down with time. I’m drinking lots of water to flush out my system. I will stay away from sugar and caffeine. I will seek to stay away from inflammatory foods and drinks. I will get back to living a recovery lifestyle.
Sometimes you need these awakening moments to remember your reality. I can no longer just do things in a normal fashion. This is a thorn in my flesh that’s always a constant threat that my health. I’ve got to live with a new normal perspective. I need to be grateful for what I can do and actively live aware of things I shouldn’t do. Even these tough times are purposeful in God’s hands.
“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I’ve not had a bad day overall. Had a fairly productive day of ministry. Had a daddy night with my youngest son. I was blessed by God to be able to get up and show up. These days are definitely way better than some of my most painful days in my past.
That said I’m in a great deal of pain tonight. I’m talking about my legs aching continuously. My lower back surgical area throbbing and making me feel nauseous. It’s the type pain you can’t allow to stay on top of you for long. Fortunately, I have taken meds that I’m hopeful will help me rest within a few hours.
I absolutely hate feeling this way. In the moment, it always feels like it’s going to take me down for good. Fortunately, I’ve learned this too shall pass. I will get past this momentary madness even if it makes my heart race momentarily.
I know this because God has proven His faithfulness time and time again. It lifts my faith to remember where I used to be. It lifts my faith to know how far God has taken me. It lifts my faith to know that whatever comes my way God will take me through it. This bad, but good pain reminds me that without God’s help I could do nothing.
“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:12
There was a time when all you heard about was my pain. Everyday felt like nonstop torment. Hope seem nowhere in sight. Life was just a fight for survival. The days and nights seemed endless. Only misery consumed me.
So much has changed over the past two years. God has used my pain to keep me humble. God has used my pain to strengthen my faith in Him alone. God has used my pain to give me a true understanding and compassion for others in pain. God has used my pain to accomplish things for my good and His glory. God has used my pain to teach me that miracles still do happen.
While I may still have limitations and some daily discomfort. The good in my life now far outweighs the bad. I’m back to living my new purpose while embracing my new normal. I’ve always got reason to praise God because rarely are tears pouring down my face. Before it seemed to be a frequent occurrence.
For 4 long years I thought nothing would change. All I did was keep the faith while seeking to take the next right step. I had many praying for me along the way. In God’s perfect timing I found the other side of my misery. What was once just pain is now my new found joy in the Lord.
I’ve learned that I can make it through anything with God on my side. I’ve learned God will always make a way when there seems to be no way. I’ve learned that even the things that surprise you never surprise Him. I’ve learned there are two types of pain. There is wasted pain and purposeful pain. In our hands pain is only heartache. In God’s hands it’s clay that God is molding into something beautiful.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
P.S. I used to hold these spinal cord stimulator batteries in my hand just choosing to believe God would change things. He helped me and He will help you.
I know so many people are struggling in this season one way or another. Sadly, most of us don’t feel like we can physically support one another the same due to social distancing. But, no amount of distance can stop our prayers for one another. My parents still need those prayers to keep coming. This week alone is a very intense one.
This week alone my dad has scheduled 8 different treatment visits. Everyday this week he is undergoing radiation to hopefully reduce some pain. Today he starts a new chemotherapy infusion. He will have these infusions done every Wednesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. He will also have 5 more straight days of radiation next week too.
All I know is dad is very weak. Much weaker than he has ever been in his life or this journey. Even with his cancer numbers much lower due to treatment. This cancer has torched my dad’s body and all he can do is keep fighting. He is no longer in remission. They are just trying to hold back the cancer as much as possible. But, it’s painfully obvious dad’s body can only withstand so much.
We all know cancer is a very ugly disease. It takes so much from a person day after day. All my family wants is God’s will, peace and comfort for both dad and mom. I wish to God I knew more to do. All I can do is try to be there and invite others to join me in praying for them. And, if you or your loved one is struggling. Know that I’m praying for you and them as well.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
The longer you’ve been with someone the more you actually learn about love. Love is not a feeling that just comes and goes. Love is not just a few voiced vows and then everything is happily ever after. Love is a daily decision to say “I do” for the rest of your life. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. For richer or poorer as long as you both shall live.
Well, Aimee Crosby has proven her love for me over the last 27 years. From the early years of being an indecisive jerk. To the later years of being an insensitive jerk. From the time I was healthier than most to the times I could barely get out of bed. From the times we could only live paycheck to paycheck. To the times we found God’s greater blessings.
Honestly, it’s just not easy being a pastor’s wife apart from the other growing pains. She has to share me with so many people. She has to carry whatever I carry plus four kids she dearly loves. Never does she complain or demand everything be her way. Instead, her love just keeps proving itself day after day.
There was a time in our marriage I thought she needed to do all the changing. However, time has only proven she’s gotten it right all along. I recall one time God led me to turn to the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Then, I read the first 8 verses of the love chapter. There I further understood the characteristics of true love. There I realized that everything I read was every way she loves me to this day.
Now, I’m still seeking to be more like her when I grow up. But, I know I’ve found the person I can’t imagine living without. Someone who loves me like God loves me. She loves me despite me. She loves me unconditionally and relentlessly. That’s why she will always be my valentine. Her name should be Aimee “Love” Crosby.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
P.S. I chose this old picture because it just reminds me how much she always makes me smile. I still love you with all my heart Aimée Crosby!
Here I go again experiencing another night in the flames of nerve pain. I really had a pretty decent day after a good night’s sleep. But, by supper time I didn’t even feel like the same person. These burning nerve sensations run from my feet all the way into my face. There’s no quick fix or running from them. Eventually my medication will help me drift off to sleep.
In the meantime, all I can do is wait and learn from my mistakes. There’s no doubt I’ve been doing way too much with my nerve condition. Too much stress, too many hours and too many possible pitfalls to mention. At least I know that recovery always starts with rest, diet, discipline, and monitoring closely my work flow.
I’m convinced our bodies are much like vehicles. When something lights up on our car dash we know it indicates something needs to be addressed. When things act up with our bodies it usually indicates something needs our attention. I hate these feelings and nights like this one. But, it’s these nights that remind me I’ve got to listen closely to my body. I’ve also got to be still and let God be God.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
The past few nights have been very painful . Not sure what exactly has triggered my nerve pain. I have been very busy from sun up to sun down. I have been under a lot of pressure as my ministry keeps growing. Honestly, life in general has been very demanding and challenging.
Even still, God has really been helping me see all the positives. One, my pain is nothing compared to my dad’s battle with cancer. Two, my pain doesn’t compare to the emotional pain my mom carries daily caring for my dad. Three, I just know things could always be much worse. My present difficult moments are nothing compared to some of my past darkest days of pain.
I remember how all I could think about was my pain. I was taking twice the amount of medication before than now. I recall like yesterday having to rely on a cain or a walker just to take the next step. I basically lived in doctor’s office. I really couldn’t see any future with the pain blinding me day and night.
However, that was then and this is now. I can now smile and operate with a clear mind most of the time. I’m able to enjoy moments with my family and continue to minister to others. A few years ago, I didn’t think any of this would be possible. Seeing God continue to do miracles really lifts my spirits. There’s no way for anyone but God to get the glory when it comes to my God story. Even my present limitations continue to be used by God to accomplish His purpose.
So, the last week especially has been really tough for my dad and mom. It all started when dad spiked nearly a 103 degree fever 8 days ago. Anything like that is extremely scary when the doctor had just informed him that his immune system has hit rock bottom. By the grace of God we were able to see dad’s fever go away and stay away. It had to be the chemo infusion he received that dad that zapped his entire being. The look of him in pain that night was as extreme as I’ve ever seen.
Dad has really struggled to find any comfort any time except when medication puts him to sleep. His head constantly hurts, his bones continually crunch, and he struggles to do anything much. Even with increased medications around the clock dad has been in a dog fight. Mom just keeps doing all she can to keep him comfortable and help him get through another day.
Today, his doctor has stopped all of his chemotherapy for at least the next two weeks. Dad’s body is just absolutely exhausted. He has very little appetite and very little he can ever enjoy. While I know God can change things at any time. I know that only God can make things turnaround. It feels like things have really been rolling down hill the last few months. And, dad’s cancer numbers have started climbing back up even with constant chemotherapy.
Of course, it’s very hard to see your dad or anyone you love in such constant discomfort. You pray for their healing and comfort that only God can give them. You ponder anything you can do to help or ease their struggle. Still you often conclude that only prayer can change certain things. So, I ask you to please keep praying for my dad and mom. I wish there was more I could do for them. However, all I know to do is keep striving to be there for them any way possible. Only God knows what the future holds!
I’ve always loved each of my boys very much. I’ve always wanted to be the best dad possible. Sadly, I’ve missed a lot of moments. Not intentionally, but just due to many things. Sometimes ignorance, busyness, tunnel vision or life circumstances got in the way. I guess I’m still striving to overcome some of those challenges.
My boys are now ages 21, 19, 17, and almost 11. My youngest has gotten the best version of me as a dad. I was only 24, 26, and 28 when my three oldest were born. Like many young dads I didn’t realize how quickly time would fly by. My wife has always been a wonderful mother. However, time has had to raise me into becoming the dad my boys really need me to be.
At nearly age 46 I see things much clearer than in years gone by. Sure, I’m still learning daily. But, I realize it’s not about having all the answers or just working a job. It’s about making time to spend with your children. Treating each one as a precious gift from God.
I wish I could go back in time. I can promise you I would do a lot of things different. You see, parenting must be intentional. You have to learn how to love each child in an understanding way. Sometimes that just means listening more than yelling. It takes speaking hope and truth into their life. It requires praying over them and constantly for them.
If you’re a young dad I hope you’re listening. You will be shocked how quickly your kids will grow up. It’s never too late to wake up and show up. Your first step might just be apologizing for things done wrong. Then, expressing to your children just how much you care and long to be the best dad possible. Because no matter how wonderful moms are in this world. Dads we are still needed too. Don’t settle for just being an average dad. Seek to let God lead you as you seek to lead them. God will bless your efforts if you let Him lead your heart. This was just on my heart to share with you for some reason.
I’ve been away from social media for a few weeks. Just trying to stay focused on things that matter most. This never ending season has been tough. All you can do is keep taking the next right step. Times like these demand we walk by faith and not by sight.
You can be certain you’re not alone in your struggles. None of us can predict what tomorrow brings. None of us can makes sense of all the madness. None of us can thrive mask or no mask without God’s continued strength and guidance.
My prayer is that none of us live with a misplaced hope. Presidents, pastors, and even the best intending people will let you down. This world is full of empty promises and shattered dreams. There’s no drug, drink or man made thing that can truly fill you with lasting peace. Only in Christ will you no longer live with a God shaped void inside.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Praise God we all able to get together for Christmas with mom and dad. We did so today because the weather allowed us to gather safely outside. It was different, but much like this past Thanksgiving. It was just a blessing to still have dad with us.
Due to dad’s necessary pain meds he was not extremely active. However, he was there and his pain appeared under control. I knew he wouldn’t want to miss being with us if the environment was safe. I could tell dad had plenty on his mind and only God knows what he was thinking surrounding by family.
My older brother gave a really good talk about embracing life’s transitions. How in Christ we can be uncertain and still be certain. You see, our hope is in Christ not our circumstances. He mentioned that none of us know whether we will be at next year’s Christmas gathering. Therefore, we need to express our love to one another now while we still have the opportunity. It certainly wouldn’t have felt like Christmas had dad and mom not been able to join us.
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:16-17
In so many ways this Christmas will be different and full of emotions. It remains to be seen if our entire family will gather together at all. Dad has certainly had his share of setbacks lately. He spent hours at the emergency room this past Saturday due to extreme pain in his eye. He was sent home on antibiotics and told he had a bad case of cellulites.
However, it turns out that his recent radiation has been his biggest issue. He hoped the radiation would reduce his pain. Turns out it has greatly increased his pain. He thought the radiation was treating the cancer. Turns out it can’t do anything for the actual cancer. It’s just one disappointment after another for him and mom.
Dad has taken some morphine along with other pain meds since Saturday. He pretty much has to do whatever necessary to endure this constant pain. Mom called the dr today due to dad’s ongoing discomfort. They ordered ER Morphine for him temporarily until this stuff settles down. We are praying optimistically that happens soon.
Doctor said the cellulitis does cause pain. They also said his jaw is probably hurting because of the radiation he had. That it is not uncommon to have it radiate downward after having the radiation on the nerves above. With consistent meds dad’s not in severe pain but in constant pain.
All I know is dad’s body is getting so much weaker. I can tell talking with him that it’s so hard to fight this disease. God is still giving me the pleasure of praying for him every night by phone. But, him and mom certainly need more prayers. I would appreciate you continuing to lift them both up to a God who cares deeply about them.
My dad was a pastor for 48 years. He can’t remember any church being closed more than a few times period. I’ve been in the ministry 27 years and I can only remember the church being closed a couple times ever. Yet, here I am pastoring a church that has not met “inside” for corporate worship in over nine months. We’ve met for the past four months outside. However, this weather is starting to get much colder.
Now, I realize everyone has different opinions concerning the threat of this pandemic. However, I can promise you we’ve tried to make the safest God led decisions every step of the way. No, I’m not personally fearful for my life. But, I do believe God keeps leading us to be mindful of countless others whose lives could be very threatened by this present virus.
Anyway, it’s getting a lot harder to keep moving forward. In fact, it’s the toughest it’s ever been to be a pastor. Nothing is normal or easy right now. Society is spiraling out of control in many ways. People aren’t thinking clearly and most are struggling greatly. Unfortunately, it’s harder than ever to experience close fellowship with others.
In the midst of it all my dad’s cancer battle keeps giving me perspective. Compared to his battle this season is a piece of cake. He is literally fighting for his life everyday. Most of us are just fighting with this new way of life. Guess it’s really not nearly the big deal we make it out to be.
You see, a person fighting for their life doesn’t get so caught up in trivial matters. They are just glad to wake up and see another God made day. Most of us have become so spoiled in this life. Anytime we get the least inconvenienced we throw tantrums like children. Man, God keeps using my dad’s cancer battle to rearrange my life perspective.
Honestly, I feel like God is trying to speak loudly to us all right now. It really doesn’t matter where we are God can be found. On our knees in a parking lot or at the altar inside a church. We’ve got to learn how to follow God no matter what our circumstance. Otherwise, every time things change so will our faith. I’m praying and believing God is growing our faith with each passing day. And, whatever God wants is sincerely what I want.
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
I’ve been off social for nearly one month. I’ve not preached on a Sunday in over 3 weeks. For many reasons I had to step back from the world as I once knew it. I desperately needed to catch my breath. I had to get my own self healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That is before I could help another soul find their way through this challenging season.
Yesterday I returned home after spending over 11 days away from home. Much of that time I spent with just God. A few days of that was great quality time with my family. We all know sometimes you just have to stop, drop and pray. Sometimes you can’t expect anything to change without making drastic changes.
As a senior pastor to many the spiritual warfare in my life has been beyond measure. Yet, I can feel God remaking me stronger each day. I’m not overly concerned about God’s plan for my life, my family or my ministry. I’m just focused on making sure that I continue taking the next right step as God leads me forward.
Of course, none of us know what tomorrow may bring. But, we know that when our little hand stays in God’s big hand the future is always bright. You may not know exactly what God is doing. However, you can trust He is doing something. He is humbling you, growing you, and preparing you for battle. His ways are always higher than our ways.
Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten my health back regulated. I’ve been very strict with my diet, consistent with my exercise, and constant in my pursuit of God’s face. God keeps showing me better ways to cope with my body’s many limitations. Very exciting is how God is using my own limitations to increase my greater expectations in Him. So, my confidence in Christ keeps growing by the day.
My dad continues to fight his daily battle with cancer. Today he finished up his 7th straight weekday of radiation in his head. He has 3 more days of radiation in conjunction with all of his other chemotherapy treatments. As dad says often “Son, it’s just one of those things. You just keep dealing with as it comes. The pain is part of it. The ups and downs are part of it. I know God has it all worked out.”
Dad and mom face a whole lot of ups and downs. But, one thing is constant they’ve never lost faith. They know God is with them and always for them. They know God has a plan even when they can’t make sense of that plan. They know that God is always good even when things feel constantly bad. Fortunately, I’ve learned the same thing as God continues to prove His faithfulness.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
I’ve not been on social media in quite awhile. I don’t plan on being on here for several more weeks. Last Sunday night I had another major neurological breakdown. I’ve not had one that severe in at least 3 years. My body is still recovering from feeling so fried inside.
Of course, initially it brought lots of anxiety. Especially when I know I’ve come so from where I used to be. God knows I’m nothing like I was back when everything felt so hopeless. I may still have the same nerve damaged condition. However, I now live with full hope God will always take me through anything.
Most all week I’ve felt like all the air has been knocked out of me. I’ve not had many outside conversations. Instead, I’ve had to preserve my strength every way possible. I’m still struggling especially in the late afternoons and evenings. But, today has not been terrible at all. So, I feel like I’m healing forward.
This past Monday I went to the doctor and got some breakthrough medications. They definitely helped me get through some really tough moments. I also got my spinal cord stimulator adjusted for the first time in almost two years. I still can’t tell you whether I’m fully on the right track towards consistent pain management. But, I’m a far cry from how I felt last Sunday night.
All I know is once again I feel mostly out of control. I’m having to fully depend on God’s grace and strength. My past days of nonstop pain have definitely helped me cope in these days. Even still it’s never easy to feel out of breath, overwhelmed and uncertain about your health condition.
One thing I never doubt is this pain is divine. God has allowed this condition to humble me and keep me where He needs me to be. It opens my eyes, ears and heart in so many ways. It’s a burden and a blessing all wrapped in one. For me it’s simply a cross I feel called to bear as I seek to accomplish God’s will.
My dad’s up and down battle with cancer continues. It was recently confirmed that the cancer has spread into the left side of his head. Typically this cancer has mainly rested inside his blood and bones. But, this time its gotten into his skin affecting his vision and pain levels. Fortunately, his pain is presently under control. But, everyday seems to bring unexpected challenges.
This Tuesday he has an appointment to discuss more necessary radiation. We’re just praying God directs the doctors steps. We pray this upcoming radiation will ease his pain and shrink the cancer. We all know cancer is an unpredictable and reckless beast. Fortunately, my parents and all my family know who is ultimately in control.
So, please keep praying for dad and mom. All I want is God’s will and God’s peace in their life. It sure is settling to know that no matter what cancer will not win the victory. Dad is a blood bought child of God covered underneath the sheltering wings of a loving God. Thanks for all of your prayers and know that I’m praying for you as well.
(Romans 8:35-37) “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
In 2007 I had a dream from God. In that dream God showed me people my ministry would impact if I stayed faithful to Him. Blindfolded, God took me to the edge of a cliff. Then, he removed the blindfold and it took my breath away. There were multitudes of people as far as the eye could see. You could see every race, tribe and language represented.
Suddenly, I woke up and started crying uncontrollably. I told Aimee that I couldn’t handle the mission God was giving me. How was I supposed to minister to all those people in one tiny church? Later, God would reveal He is not limited to the church house.
Sometime in 2012 I was preaching a funeral for one of my many previous hospice patients. I knew only two people in that entire sanctuary. Yet, over to my right were faces I knew were in the front row of that dream. I remember being shaken inside as I couldn’t deny what my eyes were seeing.
Then, God led me to start writing blogs online. I just felt led to share some real life stories with others. At best I thought a few family and friends would read them. Then, one day I was checking my WordPress stats of who and where people were watching. That’s when I discovered over 130 countries had read my online blog. All I could do is once again just shake my head in disbelief.
In August 2018 a group of international teachers would be sent by God to Colleton County. We were able to help some make a smooth welcoming transition far away from their families. Beyond those from the United States, folks from India, the Philippines, Kenya, Jamaica, Cameroon, Jamaica, and Ghana have all been a part of Refuge Church. I know in my heart each of them were in that dream God gave me nearly 13 years ago.
Then, this morning God took this dream much further. Our International Pastor Lephen Kumar connected me with many Christian leaders back in his home country. I preached to leaders from India through zoom. I could feel God’s spirit so strong even with hearing languages I will never understand. I got to meet his former pastor, Uncle George, who has planted 450 different churches in India and Nepal. I told my son Matthew it felt like we were landing on the moon for the first time.
So often we only see the world through our limited eyes. God wants us to see way bigger. Jesus calls us to take the gospel to every nation and tribe. God willing I will get to visit each of these places and their families one day. In the meantime, I hope to keep living out the dream God has given me.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
My pain has been relentless practically all day. My lower back surgical area has just stayed on fire. Nerve pain keeps flooding my body. My face has stayed on fire as the nerve sensations have no where else to roam. This gnawing sensation keeps me feeling nauseated.
Early this morning I put together a new aggressive eating plan. I’m officially back on my elimination diet. Time has proven it’s the best chance I’ve got to get back on track besides removing all unnecessary stress and prayer. So, I’m back to eating only fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, lean meats, fish and eggs. Basically I’m having to stay from all sweets, sugars, caffeine, dairy and a whole lot of other good stuff.
It’s very hard trying to eat this way especially with the holidays soon upon us. Oh, and of course I’ve got to make sure I drink at least 80 ounces of water daily. My pain is an easy motivator right now. If I don’t get this turned around soon an absolute crash is ahead.
I’m definitely not comfortable in my own skin right now. But, I know how to get through this pain. Just as important, I know I will get through this pain. I’m not freaking out inside because God has brought me through so many times before. I’ve just got to keep fighting forward knowing God is fighting for me.
When you’re in your toughest moments you can’t afford to give up. Focus on what you can do and trust in what God will do. Sometimes the battle is way bigger than you. Sometimes it’s just a testing and stretching of your faith. Keep taking the next faith step forward. God will meet your faithfulness with His faithfulness.
“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” Psalm 18:25-29
Toxins have been building up inside of me for weeks. Last week was very tough. This week has been tolerable, but still somewhere miserable. My nerve pain is consuming my body. My entire face is flooded with painful nerve sensations. I feel so irritable most of the time due to my ramped up pain. The later in gets at night all I can do is pray God uses my meds to put me to sleep.
Fortunately, I understand what I’m dealing with best one can. Time has revealed that my permanent nerve damage is easily flared by certain stress, foods, physical activity and lack of rest. There’s no doubt something in my life or diet has to change. I’m doing everything I can to discover the problem by process of elimination.
To say my condition is life altering is an understatement. I hate to admit it, but it handicaps me greatly. All I can do is what I can do. God is my strength and shelter from this constant storm. I seek to learn everyday how to avoid things getting worse. However, lately my condition has certainly got the best of me.
Earlier I did have a great visit with my parents. Dad’s pain has been kept under control all day. Praise God he will get a CT scan with contrast done this Friday. Then, hopefully we discover soon what is causing such pain in his temple. This issue has been affecting dad’s quality of life and vision for far too long. But, I’m very happy to see him much calmer these days.
Whatever pain you’re going through right now. Know that you’re not alone. I know firsthand it’s not something you just get over. When it’s deep pain only God can take you through it. Just keep putting your little hand in His big hand.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8
Well, my dad had a very big doctor’s appointment today. We were optimistic that it would finally confirm the reason for 5 months of extreme pain in his head. His recent surgical biopsy was the only way to verify that he was battling temporal arthritis. Unfortunately, the biopsy showed that dad does not have this condition. Instead, it’s likely the cancer creating havoc in his head. Only God knows what that means when it’s discovered.
Now, while my parents are disappointed I’m very upset with this outcome. My dad has gone to so many doctors over this time. Not near enough testing has been done in any timely manner. I realize things are more complicated during COVID-19, but I still expect doctors to treat every patient like their own family member.
For months I’ve known dad needed to have a CT scan done with contrast. Why? Because without this done with contrast this cancer has never showed up in his body. Yet, when they have used the contrast it has shown lesions all over his upper body and into his skull. He needed this scan done months ago. But, his cancer doctor just kept saying that’s not the issue. They did a CT scan without contrast months ago, but of course it showed nothing.
Now, I know they are trying to be careful with each step. He does have to limit his radiation exposure due to his struggling kidneys. But, when you’re already in such a battle pain management must come first. I’ve seen way too many patients struggle forever because no one was keeping them comfortable. All patients deserve to know what they are dealing with so they can make the best decisions possible. Yes, it’s my dad but I’ve always been an advocate for any hurting patient.
If I didn’t know God was still in control I couldn’t maintain my composure. I hate it when sick people have to play their own doctor. Cancer is a bad enough experience. You don’t want anything that just waste more of your time or increases your misery. I’m sure you can tell this has hurt my heart deeply.
However, this is not about me. This is about my dad. I will always make sure that I’m doing anything I can to help. I’m doing my absolute best to give it all to God now. I can’t get over this experience easily or quickly. All I can keep doing is praying and praying.
I told my dad earlier that I would be glad to give him a kidney. Of course, he said I needed to hold on to mine. Because I still have a lot of life ahead with 4 boys and my wife. Even still, I’m not focused on the length of life. I’m focused on making sure we enjoy the best quality of life. I don’t want whatever time we have left together consumed with just running here and there. All I can do is take a very deep breath and say Jesus take the wheel. Rest assured I will be alright and God will work things out.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Dad had a much better day on Sunday. His morning started out a little rough. But, Dad’s pain is back to being under control. He really does look day and night different when he’s not enduring breathtaking pain. I enjoyed a great visit with dad and mom right after Sunday worship.
As for me, my pain is staying bearable. I’m back to having to watch my eating habits closely. All it takes is a little bit of something getting into my system to create havoc inside. The flushing into my face is caused by a high level of inflammation in my back. Therefore, I have to do all I can to calm my nerves down.
God is teaching me to slow down and smell the roses. How to rest in him and totally rely on him. God is reordering many things in my life right now. I’m having to step back and let Him direct my every step. I feel such a peace about the path God has for me now and later.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Unfortunately, my dad didn’t end up having a great 72nd birthday. That is at least from a pain management standpoint. However, I’m so glad he is still here. I can tell his mind and body are flat wore out from his cancer battle. He’s definitely a fighter, but sometimes the fight is just way bigger than you.
Of course, dad is not the only one caught in this battle. Mom is always by his side. Yet, she desperately needs rest herself. They were both up most of last night with him in extreme pain. Seems all they can do is run from one urgent issue to the next. Doctors appointments have filled up the calendar for months. But, so many of dad’s issues never get resolved and the pain just keeps piling on.
No, I’ve not been doing the best myself especially at night. Nerve pain is rushing throughout my face even as I write. But, my stuff is nothing compared to my parents. I knew looking at dad yesterday that he looked drastically different after just a week passed by.
I have decided long ago that I will walk with them both through this valley. I will not let time pass me by and not be there. You don’t get these days back once they’re gone. I feel strongly that my first ministry priority should be my own family. Especially the two people who have been there for me my entire life.
I’m really hoping I can help make things easier in some way. Please keep the prayers coming for them both. They really need it and appreciate every one of them. Pray they get the answers they need from this coming week’s doctors appointments. I know God has a plan.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
I understand my body is broken. I remember the doctor saying nearly 5 years ago words I never cared to hear. He said, “no matter what anyone tells you this can’t be fixed. Trust me, you have permanent nerve damage.” I wish I could say that doctor was dead wrong. However, my body keeps confirming he was telling the truth. Still it’s often a message I refuse to accept fully into my mind and heart.
This past week my nerve pain flared back up to a high level. My surgical spot has been aching often. From my legs all the way into my face I feel a sharpe, shooting sensation. It’s been much harder to ignore how sick and nauseous it makes me feel. I don’t like to write about it much anymore because I try not to feed it. Sometimes you do better putting your mind over the matter. Yet, sometimes God allows the pain so you have something to share in common with others.
Now, I will never say this pain makes my life enjoyable. Especially when it often makes anything I pursue so much harder. I have to live a constant recovery lifestyle with this thorn in my flesh. I never know when it’s going to take me down. I’m still learning to ride this roller coaster of ups and downs. Sadly, just about every emotion possible is associated with this painful mess.
Right now my pain has humbled me once again. It’s put me back on my knees realizing my desperate need for God’s help. I’m sure I thought once again that I had everything under control. God had to allow me to fall back down so through me He could be lifted up.
While my flesh tells me these days are just miserable. My faith tells me these days are most meaningful. I realize most of my spiritual growth was birthed through painful yesterday’s. I’m certain God is still using my pain today.
Don’t see your pain as only a barrier. See your pain as something God wants to use as a platform to display His greatness. In fact, it’s through your pain that you find God’s true comfort. And, then you actually have comfort to share with others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Now, I may still be sore and limited in certain movement. But, there’s no doubt things are trending in the right direction. This heating pad on my back right now feels like Jesus with skin. The medical massage I got earlier was Heaven sent at Total Wellness. Then, I went back for another neck and back adjustment by Dr Jenkins at “The Joint” Chiropractic place.
What they have been able to put back in order in just two days has been incredible. Like the hands of Jesus they put my entire spine back in order. They broke every physical stronghold throughout my body. Now, I’ve just got to be careful, keep stretching and keep getting proper rest.
Now, that was not the only lift I got today. Some dear friends called me and prayed with me. It still means a lot for people to realize that pastors are human too. Then, the icing on top was talking and praying with my dad earlier. His pain presently is being kept under control which is healing to my bones. I’m just so thankful for such a God made day. God always comes through just when we need him most.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
Last night I had a full night of sleep for the first time in many days. By that I mean uninterrupted. I didn’t wake up tossing and turning. I wasn’t feel one ounce of pain while I was actually sleeping and that’s a God thing.
Today, I woke up just feeling very sore and cautious about any sudden movement. My back is still very fragile and somewhat spastic. But, I was able to lie flat on not back on a heating pad. I could never have done that before. But, my spine is completely aligned. I recommend to anyone needing a back adjustment to please check our Dr Jenkins at “The Joint” in Summerville. You won’t go anywhere more God gifted in your life.
Sadly my dad had another very rough night. Sore throat, spitting phlegm, and pressure in his lungs when he got up. He went to the doctor first thing for COVID test. Praise God it came back negative. Chest sounded good. He gets very anxious when it comes to COVID symptoms due to hardly any immune system. He had a bad headache for hours but it has finally eased off a lot. Please let those prayers keep rolling for my dad and mom.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” Romans 16:20
Well, let me start this out with some good news. Today, dad safely endured being put under anesthesia. Then, his doctor removed surgically a biopsy from his temple. It will be at least early next week before he hears any results. At the very least we figure he is battling temporal arthritis among other things.
Overall, dad had a major headache all day. Especially after he spent all night with no pain meds concerned about the anesthesia. But, somehow God took him through. When we talked earlier I could tell dad had given everything over to God. He said he had been doing a lot of praying and truly had God’s peace no matter what happens.
I’ve been feeling bad most of the day. But, I went to see a chiropractor earlier and God did through him what few have ever done. He cracked my neck and back despite all my limitations. I could tell everything was falling into line. This was a wonderful feeling I’ve not felt in a long time.
Tonight, my nerves are raging from being so stirred up during the adjustment. However, I’m so thankful to feel like I’m on the path towards greater relief. I’ve not been in the best of spirits lately, but it’s not because I don’t have God’s peace. My body just has to heal and rest as much as possible.
I can’t say I’m enjoying many moments in life right now. I can tell you I’m learning to trust God with every moment. God is still taking the training wheels off my faith life. You want to think your faith as arrived. But, time proves that you’re always a work in progress.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
P.S. I appreciate all your prayers for my dad and mom!
My health is presently not good at all. You name it and it hurts on my body. I’m trying my best to weather this storm and see beyond this misery. I know this isn’t my first rodeo with pain. Still it makes everything harder when I’m consumed with such misery. Nights have been the worst. I’m just waiting to fall asleep and escape this pain.
My dad has been in way more pain than me all week. His battle appears to be moving from bad to worse. He has so many health issues attacking him all at once. The pain in his head has literally been blinding. Tomorrow he will get a surgical biopsy just hoping for answers. However, it seems that nothing is very simple to fix or discover these days.
Now, I do know what it’s like to be in blinding pain for days. However, I don’t know what it’s like to truly be fighting for my life. Through my dad’s eyes many earthly things aren’t near as important right now. Even this presidential election is meaningless to someone just trying to make it through another day. I really wish I could do more to help my dad and mom. All I can do is pray for them and trust the God who I know is watching over them.
Wherever life finds you at this moment. Know that God will help you make it through. God promises to walk with you and watch over you. Through every storm and valley God is with you. There is never a second a child of God has to be afraid. We just sometimes realize more than others that without Jesus we’re all doomed.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
Our church has now gone over 8 months without meeting inside for worship. When we do officially move back inside it will have been 9 months. This is very hard for me to wrap my mind around. Especially since I’ve never known a church to miss regular worship more than one week in a whole year. But, this season has given me a new perspective I believe is by God’s design.
One, there is definitely power in gathering with others for worship. No, going to church doesn’t save you. However, being with other believers does encourage you. It reminds you that you’re not alone in your struggles. It helps you stay focused and accountable in your faith. It lifts your spirit to face another week with God’s help.
Secondly, the church has nothing to do with a building. In fact, a church building can actually get in God’s way. We can get so focused on meeting inside those walls that we quit reaching those outside those walls. Sunday worship is nothing but a weekly pep rally for all those on the Jesus team. The real mission exists outside the church at home, work, school and wherever life may find us.
Thirdly, whether it’s a normal season or abnormal, God is not restricted. In fact, I’ve seen God do way more in this shutdown period than in the previous year before. Over 16 states have listened to our online messages. We are now on Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, & Cable television. We’re no longer just impacting those in the church house, but many others listening or watching in their house.
Fourthly, God likes to keep us realizing our total dependence on Him. I’ve prayed more in this season than any before. Totally out of my comfort zone, God has been my constant shepherd. I’ve had no choice but to give Jesus the full reigns of my life and ministry. With each day of surrender I keep seeing God doing greater and greater things.
Finally, I’ve seen enough to know I don’t want things to go back to normal. In fact, I believe it’s the worst thing any of us could do. We’ve seen more people come to Christ in the parking lot in eight months than we ever did inside the church house in the same length of time before. In fact, I’ve never been more excited about what God is going to do one week to the next.
So, I want you to know that we’re not a church looking to go back to normal. Instead, we’re going to keep letting God take us out of our comfort zone. What’s happening and what’s ahead will be worth every bit of discomfort. We don’t plan on ever being a church that just has church. Instead, we want to be the church no matter what life brings our way.
Now, we look forward to seeing you all inside the Ivanhoe Family Cinemas starting on November 15th. We will have two services every Sunday 9:15 and 11am. In the meantime, we will continue to meet in the theatre’s parking lot. You can be sure that God has amazing plans for us. In fact, the best is yet to come. Thanks to all of you who continue to make this ministry possible.
God is teaching me so many things in this season. No, it’s not been fun or even enjoyable. But, I would say it’s been worth the sweat, stress and tears. Now, I’m not talking about this world’s craziness or anyone’s political views. I’m talking about what God has shown me during this time in His workshop. Here are my top three lessons during COVID-19.
First of all, God is teaching me what is truly essential. No, it’s not toilet paper, restaurants, or sports. It’s not even being able to attend some church. It’s all about my need for relationships. We need a solid relationship with Jesus to get through this tough life. We need other people in our lives to help us become all God created us to be. We need faith, family and friends. But, if all I can choose is one I would have to pick Jesus every time.
Secondly, I’ve learned that everybody thinks differently. I don’t have to agree with someone to love someone. I don’t have to even like someone to love them. These times often reveal the worst in us. Of course, I wish we all agreed but that’s just not possible this side of Heaven. We all must learn how love each other unconditionally. After all, that’s exactly how God loves us and calls us to love one another.
Thirdly, God is teaching me how to truly wait on him. All of us have been guilty of wanting this chaos to be behind us. Well, I’ve concluded that’s not the right perspective. God teaches us way more in the valley than He does on the mountain. We have to learn how to wait on God and trust God no matter where life finds us. Even when it hurts and even when it takes us out of our comfort zone.
Now, none of these things are easy to do. Yet, I’m glad God is still teaching me a better way. A better way to see things through the eyes of faith. A better way to experience God’s peace even in the chaos. I’m sure God is teaching all of us new things. Hopefully, He has our full attention by now.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
My flesh doesn’t want to share these words with you. In fact, the devil really doesn’t want me being honest. Yet, there are many times we must get over our pride. We must be real about our feelings and fears. Our hurts, our pains and our everyday human struggles.
The past eight months have been some of the longest of my life. As a pastor, I’ve been out of my comfort zone the entire time. All I’ve known to do is wake up each day and live for God’s glory. It has been so hard watching so many bleeding inside. You want to fix things for everybody. Then, you realize that only Jesus does the saving, fixing, healing, and comforting.
This season has helped me see my many limitations. My desperate need for divine intervention. My prayer life has been forced to drastically increase. Relying on God’s love, truth and plans have become my only sure things. I’ve had to totally transition from trying to live self-dependent to constantly living Christ dependent.
I say this to assure you that you are not alone in your struggles. Anxiety, fear and depression are hovering over many of us like buzzards. Our patience has been pushed to the max as we all wait to see what happens next. Apart from Christ it would be really easy for someone to fall apart in this day and time.
The good news is even when we fall apart Christ can put us back together and hold us together. You don’t have to be perfect just forgiven. You don’t have to have all the answers you just need to trust the one who holds today, tomorrow and forever in His hands. You don’t have to pretend like you’re okay when really you’re falling apart.
I may not know all the magic words to say. There may not be a simple fix to all that you’re going through. Even still, I know that hope begins and continues through Jesus Christ. Everything and everyone may disappoint you. However, Jesus will always be there, never let you down and will pick you up regardless of how far you’ve fallen. I pray that you know that Jesus is only a prayer a way.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
As most of you know I don’t write much these days about my pain. Only when pain compels me to share my story. For at least 4 years straight pain consumed my life. Fortunately , I really do have more good days than bad now. But, recently my pain has reared it’s ugly head again. Nights are the absolute worst when my body aches so deeply.
My increased pain is usually a combination of many things. Busyness, stress, unhealthy diet, not enough rest, and definitely cooler weather. All of these things can melt my fragile nervous system. I always know my nerve damage is flaring badly when my surgical spot feels like I’ve been kicked repeatedly. Also, my hands and feet start breaking out due to my dermatitis.
All I can do in these times is lay on my side or in a hot bath. I’ve been living on my heating pad recently as it does calm my pain. Thank God for pain meds and muscle relaxers. I usually deal with heavier pain every night for at least a few hours. However, the last few days I’ve been living and breathing discomfort.
Tomorrow morning I will go back to Total Wellness for a medical massage. Not just anyone can work on my back due to the surgical implants. I can barely even touch my lower back surgical area right now. Getting that pain spot to decrease will change things in my entire body. I’m confident that God will calm my flaming nerves once again. Why? Because He always has and always will pull me through. He will do the same for you my friend.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
For 7 1/2 months straight I’ve been going and going. Ministry has never felt more demanding. Time has never felt so fleeting. My body has been screaming for my attention the last few weeks. I’m well aware that I’ve got to make some life adjustments ASAP.
Sure, I could justify most of my steps. I do very little for self-pleasure. In fact, day and night I’m doing what I can to touch others. However, the demand on my life would be difficult for most who are healthy. But, it’s especially impossible for someone with my broken body and nervous system.
As I catch my breath I’m just trying to relax. I realize no one else is to blame for my ignorance or lack of boundaries. So, I’m owning the fact that I’ve been working too much and often ignoring my own pain. However, it can’t be ignored anymore. Most evenings I’m back to having to spend hours soaking in the tub.
I believe many can relate to my present wake up call. Sometimes we just fail to acknowledge our own humanity. We forget our limitations and ignore God’s daily warning signs. Yes, this is a tough season for many. All the more reason to live with a balance of work, rest, fun, and fellowship by faith.
Anytime things are out of order your mind and body will let you know. Sometimes we just need to be still before God. Sometimes we just need to be still period. Sometimes we just need to withdraw from all the madness and rest in the arms of Jesus. Only then can we be filled by God’s peace and have something to pour into others. I’m seeking to make every adjustment I can as I set new boundaries once again for myself.
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
Tonight, my lower back is giving me a little extra grief. It seems my surgical spot is more inflamed than usual. Honestly, my pain level is no more than a 4 out of 10. There’s just enough discomfort to hinder my sleep for now.
Now, I’ve taken my normal night time medications and some extra. And I’m certain my pain will ease off soon. But, this reminds me how far God has brought me. This may not be an easy night, but it’s so far from my worst night.
Before, I would have given anything to even feel this good. Morning, day and night were filled with such misery. Life was carrying on even though I could not. Back then all I knew was pain, suffering and it appeared all hope for healing was gone.
Here I am today feeling like an absolute miracle. Even is some discomfort I feel so blessed. I no longer dread each day. God has given me so many reasons to smile, praise Him, and to just be thankful. This has taught me to trust God more. Trust His timing, His healing and His will even when things feel hopeless.
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Well, I drove early this morning to Charleston to see my pain specialist. An hour of driving one way doesn’t sound like a big deal. But, it’s a very big deal for me even still. My wife does the driving 95 percent of time for us. When I do drive it’s typically only a few miles unless I just can’t avoid it.
The entire way to my appointment I was in a great mood. I knew deep down that I’ve never felt any better over the past five years. My doctor told me he couldn’t believe how well I’m doing. He said, “I’m really surprised you’re doing so well with your condition.” Especially since I’ve gone so long without a pain shot. I told him all I can do is smile and thank God for His blessings upon me.
I made sure he knew that it wasn’t like I just sat around and prayed. I’ve been doing anything possible to help matters. My diet, my movement, my sleep, and even monitoring my stress daily. Basically, I live with a recovery mentality from sun up to sun down. I have to do so if I hope to keep carrying on with much quality of life.
Today we’ve not reduced any medications and we’ve not increased any. They are scheduling me for a pain shot to help keep my coccyx pain under control. This cooler weather coming won’t be easy on my body. Plus this particular shot has proven to give me some relief.
For my regular daily meds I still take Neurontin, Amitriptyline, Zannaflex, and Ibuprofen. But, I have a lot of daily natural supplements that I’ve been taking for awhile. CBD caplets, Turmeric, Fish Oil, Ginger, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Potassium, Fenugreek, Ashwagandha, Magnesium, Melatonin, Cognizin Citicoline, and a Vitamin B Complex.
Even still, nothing helps more than a positive and prayerful mindset. You have to learn to listen to your body. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but celebrate what you can. Be honest with those around you as they can’t always see your invisible pain. Whatever you’re going through know that God is with you. He will carry you forward to brighter days.
Tomorrow, I will go see my pain specialist. Hard to believe it’s officially been one year since my last pain shot. Based on my condition I was supposed to need at least 3 or 4 shots every year. Before, I really had no choice with my persistent pain. But, here I am still not presently scheduled for another shot.
I’ve seen many miracles since September 2015 changed my life. I’ve endured 3 different back surgeries. I used to spent most of my days in a bed, bath, or doctor’s office. I’ve gone from using a walker to walking on my own two legs. From nonstop sleepless nights to usually restful nights. From nonstop insane pain to usually under control pain. From medications that kept my mind hostage to reducing my medications over 50 percent. From 205lbs to 165lbs.
I can’t say enough about how my diet has changed my life. I may not be able to do any heavy weight lifting. I’m certainly limited when it comes to doing anything physical. However, I have my life back with family, friends and ministry. I’m at peace with my new normal. Sure, I may need a few more shots here and there. But, there’s no denying how far God has carried me.
“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
My arms were tired. Then, I saw a man with no arms.
My legs were weak. Then, I saw a man with no legs.
My back was aching. Then, I saw a man who was paralyzed.
My heart was broken. Then, I saw a man whose heart quit beating.
My life was altered. Then I saw a man who lost his life.
My life seemed shipwrecked. Then, I realized I’m just so blessed.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
I’m jumping on here to give a little update. I’ve had many ask from time to time how my pain level is now. Obviously, that’s not a crazy question considering I spent nearly 5 years straight in smothering pain. Honestly, I don’t even like to think about those painful days. Certain times of reflection just put a big ole lump in my throat. So, where am I now?
First, I’m back to truly living my best life now. Of course, permanent chronic pain never leaves you the same. You can’t do many things you used to enjoy physically. It’s still not easy to sit in most positions. My wife does practically all the driving and heavy lifting of anything. However, she knows most things just aren’t worth the price we all pay when my condition flares up.
Secondly, my pain no longer defines me. It may constantly alter my life, but it’s not consuming my life. I had to quit writing about it because I realized it was feeding even more pain. Even in the dark times I’ve refrained from sharing because I knew it was best I just get relief that night. I’ve learned that even if I have a really bad night that tomorrow could be much better.
Thirdly, my diet and life adjustments prove to make the biggest difference. 2 years after losing 40 pounds that weight loss has been sustained. Now, it’s not the actual weight loss that has helped anything. It’s the fact that I do all I can to limit any caffeine and sugar intake. Anytime I eat or drink much of what you might call normal my system goes crazy. Then, I just melt physically and emotionally. However, now I know something I can always do to help things.
Trust me when I tell you these things in order. Staying away from loads of caffeine or sugar will reduce inflammation in your body. There is nothing about that to debate. I’ve tried this experiment long enough to know it is absolutely true. Drinking half your body weight in water will help in keeping your body flushed and feeling much healthier. Maintaining consistent movement throughout the day is always good for your back issues. In fact, with my nerve condition I should always be doing some daily physical therapy exercises. Finally, it is critical you reduce unnecessary stress and get adequate sleep. All of these things have proven to be the biggest medicines for helping my chronic pain.
Of course, you can’t walk through the fire without faith and prayer. I’ve not forgotten what I’ve gone through. I’ve not quit thanking God for all He has done. My body does seem overdue for another shot. I’ve been spending a lot more time in the tub lately. Even still, God has restored my mind and purpose in life.
One thing I still choose daily is to allow God to use my pain. As I’ve said before I know it’s not meant to be a crutch but God’s platform. I still have an instant compassion for those in crippling pain. I still thank God for what I can do instead of focusing on what I can’t do. Everyday I’m just glad to have reasons to smile. To not just be a burden to my wife or kids.
Anyone right now reading this experiencing breathtaking pain right now. Hear this my friend, God will help you through this valley. Take each day one step at a time. Believe that God has a purpose for your struggle. Don’t be afraid to cry or share your struggles with others. Don’t expect others who haven’t experienced your brokenness to fully understand. Know that God always understands and hears your cries for help.
No, I wouldn’t want to walk back through my most painful days. But, my pain has totally revolutionized my life and ministry. I’ve learned how to delegate, persevere, and see God’s purpose regardless of my life situations. While I’m may be weaker physically. I’m so much stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. God has proven that my pain has a purpose and will have the rest of my life.
It’s okay to work through your pain. Just don’t allow yourself to wallow in it too long. Seek the support you need and ask others to pray. Most of all, keep the faith because God is working on you. You will see with time that God uses your greatest pain to take you to His greatest purpose. All this I’m sharing after walking through days I thought I could never see beyond. I still live a recovery lifestyle, but my pain is fueling God’s daily purpose for my life.
Sometimes you just find yourself restless. You may not even be able to pinpoint exactly what has you so worked up. All you know is your feelings are drowning you. If you could shutdown your mind you certainly would.
Honestly, these are the moments satan can’t wait to pounce on you. You will be tempted to do anything to just feel better. For some that may mean a few more drinks. For others that may mean smoking away your anxieties. For many it’s just doing anything to give you that momentary high you’re longing for inside.
None of us are exempt from temptation and testing in this life. There is always a battle raging within in our flesh. It can be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual all wrapped into one. However, it’s in these moments we must recognize the enemy’s plan.
Satan tells you there is a quick fix to be found. Satan tells you to do whatever it takes to numb the pain. Satan hopes you crack in your deepest moment of vulnerability. Yet, Jesus is the only one that can give you true peace, comfort, strength and life worth living.
Sometimes you just have to tell the devil to get behind you. You may have to literally get up and run from your current situation. Most of all, you’ve got to run to Jesus. Only he can heal your bleeding heart or calm your raging storm. Trust me, I’ve called on Jesus in many dark moments. Somehow, someway He has always helped me overcome what was too overwhelming for me alone.
Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
For those of us old enough to realize what was happening at that time. We couldn’t forget that day if we tried. Those planes took down way more than those twin towers on September 11th 2001. They ripped open our hearts and exposed our fragile humanity. That day forced us all to stop dead in our tracks.
That following Sunday most churches were packed. Many of us were on our knees saying God please forgive me. Help me be the person you created me to be. Help me to not take another second for granted. Help me spend my life focused on the things that truly matter most.
Sadly, it often takes 9-11 experiences to wake us up. In this world, it’s so easy to get side tracked by the meaningless. It’s so easy to focus on the things that divide us instead of what unites us. The truth is we’re all sinners in need of a savior. Apart from God’s amazing grace and forgiveness we’re all bound for Hell.
I’m so glad God sent His son Jesus to die for my sins. All I did was realize my sins and repent of them. I said, Jesus I believe in your death, burial and resurrection. For the forgiveness of my sin and the promise of eternal life. That very moment Jesus saved my soul and my future has been certain ever since.
Now, sadly I know there were many who died that sad 9-11 day. None of them could have ever seen that day coming. However, some were eternally prepared and probably most were not. I wonder if you were caught by surprise today would you be ready to meet your maker? The truth is you can be certain of your eternal salvation even in a world full of uncertainty.
“I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
No wonder everyone seems so irritable. No wonder the least little thing causes people to go crazy. One, it’s been hot enough to instantly catch on fire. Two, most of us have felt stuck in hibernation for 5 1/2 months. Three, social media reminds you of “The Three Stooges.” Four, most days keep feeling like a re-run of all the countless days before.
Most of us just don’t know what to do with ourselves in these uncertain times. We’re like fish out of water. We’ve been flipping and flopping for a long, long time. We might not all say it but we’re desperate for normalcy. Bedtime starts to become you’re most anticipated activity of the day.
Honestly, it has finally worn out it’s welcome in our house. Fortunately no one has killed anyone YET. But, we’re all just watching a crazy world that’s waiting to see what tomorrow holds. I don’t know how anyone without faith gets through such days. This season has definitely exposed our humanity. Our desperate need for God’s divine intervention. None of us have all the answers. I’m just glad I do know who still has a plan.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
My dad and I just finished one of our daily night time talks. As usual it was full of many different emotions. We both can see God’s grace, recognize the pain and still pray in full faith. We both know God always has a plan. We just don’t always know how that plan will look from day to day.
Dad is looking forward to his midweek day of chemotherapy tomorrow. Not because he enjoys the process. But, because He knows God has sent him in there as a missionary. Therefore, there is purpose for his great pain. Even though it’s uncomfortable and at times unbearable. He sees the mission God has called him to as he gathers weekly with others who battle cancer.
Now, there were tears shed tonight for many reasons. Mainly because it’s just not easy for anyone to endure this kind of battle. I told dad I can’t understand everything he is feeling. I do know what it feels to feel hopeless. Like there is no way humanly possible for me to change anything. I also know what it’s like for God to intervene completely into my situation. For God to do more than the doctors said was possible.
God has now called me to share with others the hope I found in the midst of my greatest brokenness. Not a tear, fear or pain in my past been wasted. God keeps using it to rebuild me stronger than ever. God keeps using it to show others what He can do once we’re completely out of his way.
I’m so glad my dad and I can walk together through this season. I sincerely treasure every conversation. I hate to see his ongoing battle. However, I see God at work everyday in his life. I love my dad and mom so much. And, I ask you to keep praying for him and her. When your back is completely against the wall you need prayer warriors more than ever. I would greatly appreciate you continuing to lift them up.
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
Yesterday we celebrated my 21 year old. Today, we celebrate my 19 year old son. We named him Joel Andrew Crosby when he was born. Joel means “God with us.” Joel has always been a special young man. He cares deeply about other people and we care deeply about him.
I’ve got a lot of stories to tell about Joel. For instance, that time he decided to drink the neon liquid out of a glow stick just to see what it tasted like. His older brother Matthew nearly passed out on the spot observing that spontaneous event. He was convinced Joel was gonna die. Of course, Joel not only easily survived, but found out his brother really does love him. We recommend you don’t try that at home.
Now, I will stop right there with the Joel stories. I certainly don’t want to upset him on his special day. We are very proud of Joel and his accomplishments. He is not only a great son, but one day will be an amazing dad. Joel is funny, smart, and loves deeply. I’m very proud to be Joel’s dad. Happy 19th Birthday Joel and thanks for many unforgettable moments. Life wouldn’t be the same without you.
I remember like yesterday when our first child was born. I was only 24 years old. His beautiful momma was only 22. After a couple of ultra sounds the doctor said we would be having a little girl. So, we picked out her name and looked forward to that special day.
At the baby shower we were blessed with countless gifts. In fact, most of them were pink and pretty. Someone gave us a cute little dress with her name embroidered on it. Between the pretty dresses, bows, pampers, and bedding items we were ready for her arrival. Then, came one of the biggest surprises of our lives.
Because they were inducing labor we had quite a cheering section in the hospital waiting area. We were all waiting anxiously for her arrival. Then, the moment we were all waiting for arrived. The doctor said you’ve got a 9 pound 10 ounce surprise baby boy. I remember just shaking my head in disbelief.
Due to my joking nature no one in my family believed the news when I told them. So, I had to snap some Polaroid pictures for credibility. Then, everyone was just happy for a healthy baby boy. All I remember after that was staring at my son in the nursery for hours. Beyond that my wife needed to catch her breath and that baby needed a new name.
After a couple days of processing our surprise baby boy. My wife and I finally agreed upon a name. We decided to call him Matthew Aaron Crosby. Because Matthew means “Gift from God” we knew it was a perfect fit. We both felt very blessed by the healthy baby given to us by God.
Now, there were a few matters I had to address. First, I told the doctor we needed to take her license. After all, how can you misjudge a 9 pound 10 ounce Shaquille O’Neal. Secondly, I asked the nurses to please move our child away from two extremely small pre-mature twins in the nursery beside him. I didn’t want anyone accusing my big boy of eating them. Finally, we had a lot of girl gifts to return. Thank God, back then Walmart took back just about everything.
For the past 21 years Matthew has been nothing but a blessing from God. Being our first child he really taught us as much as we taught him. He has already graduated from college with a bachelors degree. He is very gifted with video production and presently helps record my weekly sermons. We are very proud of the respectful and responsible man he has become. Happy 21st Birthday Matthew!
I’ve been a minister of the gospel for over 27 years. The only thing that keeps me committed is a very strong call from God. Never do I feel like I’ve got things figured out. Rarely do things ever go as planned. However, the call and the opportunity to impact lives keeps me motivated.
I believe most teachers have a similar calling. They feel led to educate our children. They feel called to love and lead whoever God puts in their path. They know opportunity to touch someone’s life is always before them. They also know that most days rarely go as planned.
Right now, teachers everywhere are like a fish out of water. Many have been forced out of their classrooms. They are having to do most things virtually or socially distanced. This is hard to embrace five days out of each week. It’s like being kicked out of your home or normal environment.
Now, I believe if anyone knows adjustments it’s teachers. Teachers are always trying to meet students right where life finds them. Even during this new normal season teachers will rise to the occasion. Their call will keep them motivated. God will guide their steps. Because whoever God calls he also equips.
“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5
I rarely ever watch anything on television these days. If I do it’s certainly not the news. I don’t listen to the radio period. I’m not around anyone filling my ears with the latest bad news. I may get on social media an hour each day. So, you would think my chances of feeling contaminated would be a lot less.
Nope, I can still feel the chaos in the air. People fighting from left to right. People tired of hearing people fighting. People thinking about fighting somebody if they say one more word. Between COVID-19, politics, racial wars, social distancing and masks we’re all just exhausted.
Emotions are at an all time high. We all wonder the same thing deep inside. When will things go back to normal? Will things go back to normal? I’m afraid none of us want to hear the real answer to that question. I’m certain that normal is in the far distant past.
Honestly, my life has been consumed with ministry and family the past 6 months. So, I’ve really not been watching the clock or pondering this subject matter. I’ve just been seeking to encourage who I can and seek God’s will in everything I do. There’s no doubt that brokenness creates a new level of openness.
Our family of six definitely feels the current of a chaotic culture too. All we can do is pray for one another. All we can do is take one day at a time. We have to trust that God has a bigger plan for all that is happening. Even in the eye of this seemingly never ending storm. I truly believe God is wanting to do something new in each of our hearts.
So, I’m asking God to keep teaching me. I pray my faith keeps growing along with my gratefulness. Maybe we all will learn to cling to Jesus more when this is all over. After all, He really is the only non-changing factor. Everything else and everyone else is bound to let us down. Thankfully I can say that with Jesus my faith and family have stayed anchored. Jesus can anchor you as well. Just invite Him into your heart to be your savior and Lord.
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:19
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Obviously, I’m one of you so I’m addressing myself too. Honestly, I’ve not even been watching the news lately. I’ve been too busy seeking to love God and people. However, I can feel the tension rising again in our society. Sadly, it feels like more of a war between all humanity.
Listen, if you weren’t born black you can’t say you know how that feels. Sure, there are many of us who don’t see color. We understand that skin is just the outer shell of a living soul. We believe that all men and women were created equal by God. But, it doesn’t mean that all men and women are treated equal.
Now, for right now I want you to forget about what you believe about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This is not about our opinion of a certain organization. I’m just asking you to join me in having compassion for those hurting. Please seek to put yourself in their shoes instead of just defending your perspective.
When someone is really hurting you don’t just keep spouting out words. No, if you really care you show you care. You lift those hurting up in prayer. You seek to encourage those who are consumed with fear. You do your absolute best to meet them where they are with God’s unconditional love.
Well, right now many of our African American brothers and sisters are unsettled. They can’t help but be moved by media headlines. They feel unsafe for themselves and certain loved ones. They don’t need us to agree with everything they may feel or think. They do need us to love, love, love them just like Jesus loves us all.
Jesus came and died on a cross for every soul on this planet. His red blood was shed for every person who bleeds red. The way we show our love for Jesus is by our love for one another. We all have our seasons where we need a shoulder to cry on. We all have times we just need to know someone cares about our bleeding heart.
So, please join me in letting those with darker skin know we care. Yes, all lives do matter. Yes, I do believe we have made great strides in racial equality. But, there is obviously still work to be done. I believe the best thing we can do is to make sure our hearts and actions are full of God’s love towards all.
Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Had a great and long day out with my wife today. We celebrated 23 years of marriage and her by my side. I can assure you I would’ve never endured the past five years without her. So many times I was close to giving up. I certainly thought I would have to resign from pastoring. I just couldn’t carry any more weight on top of my chronic pain.
Anyone who sees me is looking at an absolute miracle. God resurrected my life in every way possible. He gave me a new strength and perspective towards life. Everyday I keep seeking to adjust to my new normal. I have to constantly work smarter and not just harder. I have to completely free fall into the arms of Jesus from sun up to sun down.
I’m wrapping up day 7 of implementing new life disciplines. My body keeps reminding me that all these daily changes are essential. My pain is pretty significant tonight. However, I’ve had worse and I mean a much worse. I’m so grateful for God, my wife and others who helped me keep pressing forward.
I will go to bed by 10pm tonight and turn off all social media once again. I will get up early and start another God made day. I will listen to my body and for God’s voice. The most important step is always the next right step. You can’t stay focused on the past. You must keep putting your best foot forward by faith.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
We’ve now been married 23 years and started dating 27 years ago. Like a bottle of fine wine my wife has only gotten better with time. Our four boys adore her and I don’t deserve her. Even still God has blessed me with a beautiful woman who always stays by my side. Through the good, bad, and ugly unconditional love pours through her veins.
It has taken me years to fully appreciate this woman by my side. Her French feminine name translates as “beloved.” This explains why she is such a dearly loved person. Anyone who truly knows her could never dispute these facts about her.
The urban dictionary says that “Aimee is intelligent and nice. She will always stick by you. She will always smile even in the darkest times. The best friend to have is a Aimee.” I agree that everybody needs a Aimee. I thank God for mine every single day.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” Proverbs 31:28
Today has been much better than yesterday. I can feel and see God putting everything in order. God is growing me, stretching me, and readying me for greater days. Breakthrough is coming with every faith step forward.
I started this new journey five days ago in obedience to God. I had no agenda or program to follow. I just knew God needed to do a great work in me so He could do a greater work through me. Everyday a new discipline is being formed. Yet, it takes time to make certain things a lifestyle.
God often does His greatest work within us in the midst of our greatest chaos. We have to learn how to keep walking with him. We have to realize that God is walking with us. We have to know that if God is for us nothing can take us down. The more we decrease the more our God confidence has a chance to increase.
(John 15:5) Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
I just finished a day that seemed like it would never end. Right now, my nerves are absolutely fried. Never have I ever been any busier with ministry. Honestly, I can’t delegate things fast enough. As soon as I get done with one thing another follows. I’ve been giving everything I’ve got possible from sun up to sun down.
This coming Saturday I will preach another funeral. I’ve preached more funerals the past two months than I have the past two years. And, that’s with having to say no to many other requests along the way. Fortunately, God keeps leading me step by step. I feel like I’m in the process of turning around the titanic.
Right now everything just feels harder due to this pandemic season. Yet, God keeps giving me clear vision of things to come. I know beyond any doubt that God is doing amazing things. Presently He is building the foundation and framework. He is teaching me how to do things in a way that will bring about God sized results.
One thing I know for sure is it’s all about continuing to faith walk. Anything God sized can never be fully man handled. God is reordering things within me and around me. All I’ve got to do is keep taking the next God led step. All I’ve got to do is keep trusting Him and obeying Him. Time has proven this is the only strategy for true success.
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3
Last night I slept in the exact time frame scheduled. All my phone apps were deactivated from the hours of 10pm and 8am. So far this is working great for my overall health. I slept a solid 8 1/2 hours last night. Getting up today was also much easier than the day before.
This morning I went on an intentional walk for the first time in months. The past has taught me it’s not about the distance, but my consistency along the way. After a mile of walking I had to soak in a hot bath. My surgical area in my lower back was definitely sore and irritated. My legs were weak as well since they are no longer conditioned for daily exercise.
Basically I’m returning back to a recovery lifestyle. The only way to do this is one step and one day at a time. I’ve had another full day and evening of work. I’m more at peace because I’m operating at a much healthier pace. I’m seeking to stay ahead of any pain or anxiety. I’m definitely praying more and worrying less. God keeps leading me one step at a time. I’m the healthiest spiritually and mentally than I’ve been in over five years. Now, I’ve got to get in bed. I’ve got to get up extra early tomorrow to see my dad prior to his chemotherapy.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10
Day one of 40 is officially in the books. With God’s help I got up and out of the bed early this morning. It was not easy to push my body forward. However, it felt great to take the next right step. My entire day has been very productive.
My mind was very clear so I began to study God’s word. When you’re a preacher it feels like you’re always studying for something. Daily I have to seek God’s face and keep studying God’s word. You never know it all and you have to remain a student of God’s word.
Most importantly today was knowing I was truly present inside my home. I don’t want to just be a minister to others, but also to my family. I’m looking for ways to help my wife and encourage my four boys. Because of Covid-19 all 4 of my boys have been with us for months. I don’t want to miss this rare season of us all still being under the same roof.
This is my first time on social media all day. I’ve intentionally removed my Facebook app from my phone. This not only allows me to sleep soundly, but also to be free of distractions. Shortly, I will begin to settle down and hopefully get some quality rest. I certainly feel more empowered living back on a schedule. But, it will take many days for my body to completely adjust and retrained to this normalcy.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
40 Days Of Discipline
(August 17-September 25th)
Well, God has led me to start another forty day journey. The number 40 is significant in scripture and in practical terms. You see, it typically takes at least 40 days to create a new habit. Which means it’s not about things changing overnight, but over time. So, here I go as I seek to establish some new disciplines.
The past five months of dealing with this pandemic has ruined many of our schedules. Often it’s hard to separate your days from nights. At first you just try to adjust to a new way of life. Later you realize you must learn how to still live life to its fullest. I believe that maintaining certain disciplines and consistencies are critical for being at your best.
So, tonight I will make sure that I’m in bed before 11pm. After 11pm I will not mess with social media and my phone will stay on silence until morning. I will seek to get out of the bed completely by 8am every morning. Then, during the day I will seek to do all I can work related between the hours of 9am and 6pm.
My goal is to not spend more than two nights weekly on things ministry related. I’m referring to things such as meetings, counseling and even studying. I have to create these boundaries for the health of myself, my marriage, my family and really my ministry. You can only live wide open so long. Sadly, I’ve been going way to hard for the past five months.
So, my first goal is getting back on a schedule and having daily healthy routines. I want to be a man on his knees before Jesus every morning. I want to be a present and involved husband and dad. I want be available to it closest family and friends. I want to be a pastor who leads by a healthy example not just from a Sunday pulpit.
Fortunately, I’m much healthier now than in recent years. But, it’s time to crank up the discipline further. It’s time to learn how to live my best life now even in this new normal. I don’t want to just survive this season. I want God to show me how I can thrive, grow, and do everything He wants done for His glory. For this reason I must put my own self back into training.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
It’s been 5 months since the world quit turning as usual. Our churches, schools businesses and even sports have all been stopped in their tracks. Our very way of life has been changed in so many ways. Amidst all the conflict, chaos and fight to return things back to normal. God help my heart never return back to normal.
When this season is over Lord may my heart stay open to your will. I’m sorry for all the times I thought I was in control. I’m sorry for all the times I got caught up in the ways of this world. I’m sorry for all I took for granted that you so graciously allowed. Lord help me not to waste this season you’ve allowed for your own good reasons.
I pray many others will join me in this resolve. Help us to turn from every wicked way and to wholeheartedly seek your way. Help us to surrender every second you allow us to breathe from this moment forward. Help us to not ignore all the warning signs you’ve sent our way. Have your way in us, through us, and despite us. When this is over may none of us ever be the same as before.
“O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Jonah 1:14
I’ve dealt with a bit of a flair with my nerve condition. For the past 6 hours my skin has been crawling. This uncomfortable tingling is running throughout my entire nervous system. I wish I could find the off switch. So far nothing has stopped it or slowed it down.
This chaotic disruption within me always leaves me feeling just a shell of myself. Sure, I can try to ignore it but that would be a hopeless cause. It’s like having an internal seizure with no pre-warning signs. Fortunately, this pain no longer owns me. It’s just a thorn in my flesh I have to allow for in my everyday life.
Honestly, my blessings list is way too long to complain. I’ve really had an overall great and productive week. When I recognize how far God has brought me. I can’t not be amazed. Feelings like tonight used to be my everyday and every night experience. Now, it’s just a couple nights per week this stuff takes me this far down. Evidently, God must allow me to still have these struggles so I can fully realize all my blessings.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
All my life my dad has worked hard. He has sought to be a great provider and dad. He has been a great man of God and example to follow. The first half of my life he was my actual pastor. The second half of my life he has still been a pastor I could call on anytime. He has certainly prayed me through some very dark valleys in the past.
Dad’s cancer battle and chemotherapy keep knocking the wind out of his sails. He keeps getting up each day striving to walk by faith. However, the body is very weak even though the spirit is very willing. There aren’t many conversations these days that don’t involve some tears. I know he hates for us to see him in such pain as he battles for his very life.
Now, my dad needs me to do what he taught me to do for so many years. It’s my turn to be his listening ear. It’s my turn to kneel by his side and pray for him. While I wish I could fix everything for him and mom. I know my role is to just be his chaplain, son, and spiritual cheerleader all wrapped into one.
What’s awesome is seeing how God is still using dad even in this season. Dad knows every Wednesday he will be surrounded by many others going through chemotherapy. Dad and I pray beforehand that God opens doors for him to minister to others. In a time when none of us can go into the treatment area. Dad knows he has been sent into this captive audience to be God’s messenger of hope.
(Romans 10:14-15) “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”
Right now it appears college football will likely not take place this fall. We’re talking about a sport that annually makes billions of dollars. A sport that is watched religiously by millions of people. In fact, many of us won’t know what to do on Saturdays if the season is cancelled. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this possibility for a couple months.
I’ve also been thinking this could be the last idol God must temporarily remove from society. You see, fans have shown for years they will do anything to cheer their team towards victory. Endless money, time, and energy are poured into our worship of college football. As a big fan myself I can easily see how your favorite team could become your church. Especially if it becomes your everything in life.
Now, if there is no football season I believe God hopes to repurpose our time. Maybe spend more time with your family. Maybe spend more time investing in your faith not just football. There is so much God can do through the people of God if He has our full attention. So, if this college football season is cancelled I’m praying for once God will have our undivided attention.
(Matthew 6:19-21) Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
I can’t put it fully into words. This season has just been a tough time to be a leader. So many divisions, opinions, and anxious thoughts. Everybody is seeing things through their own viewpoint. Some watch this network and others watch another. Some believe in masks others don’t even believe there is a threat. All you hear is some are on the far left and others are on the far right.
Now, for most leaders it’s even more complicated. We have to try and make decisions regardless of the chaos. In the midst of the mixed emotions and flaming arrows. You have to find a way to keep taking the next right step. However, you must know that nothing you do will make everyone happy.
This season has tested even the brightest and best. Even the most veteran leaders have never dealt with such uncertain times. Leadership can feel very lonely, overwhelming, and not much fun. However, this is when leaders are needed more than ever. No it’s not always easy, but that’s why many aren’t leaders. Leaders, I encourage you to keep leading and trusting God for the results.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
Our family made our normal Sunday visit with my parents today. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on going since I only slept three hours last night. Most of my night and day were filled with nerve pain and great anxiety. I found myself in my bed feeling so overwhelmed.
Then, I thought about my dad’s condition. I said to my wife “if my dad can get up so can I.” I went outside before we left and literally gave myself a pep talk. God was like “Craig you’ve got to get up and show up. Quit trying to play hero for everybody and quit wallowing in this pain. Just get back to walking with me and trusting me every step forward.”
The entire ride there I’m thinking this could go really bad. The last thing I wanted to do was increase other people’s stress. My dad and I ended up alone on their back patio. The sun was blazing and we were both wearing mask. But, this moment was a divine appointment of much needed encouragement.
Dad and myself were both broken for differing reasons. God quickly revealed that dad’s brokenness was much greater than my own. This shifted my focus from me on to him. Based on my pain in the past I could read his every facial expression. I certainly know what it’s like to have all the air knocked out of your sails. To be in so much physical and emotional pain that the next step feels impossible.
Together we were both mutually encouraged simply by each other’s compassion, understanding and presence. Not long after I started ministering to my dad my anxiety was lifted. All it took was a shift of perspective and seeing someone in a much bigger storm than me. Funny how God uses certain painful encounters to help us work through our pain. My heart and body have been much calmer ever since me and dad’s pain sharing experience. Hopefully tonight will be much better for us all. Please keep praying for my dad and my mom as they keep faith walking through this cancer battle.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
Here I am again dealing with another heart pounding moment. My nerve condition often makes me have to sit up in bed. Every time I try laying down my heart feels like it’s beating outside of my chest. My anxiety then kicks into a much higher gear.
Fortunately, I’m a veteran at dealing with these trying moments. Five years of dealing with many intense moments teaches you a few things. Overtime you realize what you’re up against. Sure it’s never easy in the moment. However, the past gives you confidence God will take you through whatever happens.
Experience teaches you to keep praying forward. I’m talking while you breathe in and breathe out. God hears your every prayer and cares about your every anxiety. He invites you to exchange your worries for His peace. The peace of knowing everything is in His hands. The peace of knowing He is with you and watching over you. Sometimes there is nothing you can fix yourself. All you can do is keep giving it over to God until He settles the storm.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Less than 30 minutes ago I shared about my struggle. This meant I had to get over my pride. This meant I had to be obedient in saying what God put on my heart. He has always compelled me to write in the eye of the pain. To praise Him in the storm not just after the storm.
Well, I’m here to tell you that just my simple confession has already led to God lifting some of my burden. I feel greater peace as I release things to God. I feel greater peace when I share my struggle and God’s goodness with others. The pain in my hands is just pain. The pain in God’s hands is a platform for His glory.
Let me encourage you to be honest about your struggles. Confession really is the beginning of healing. Seeing your pain used to help others lifts you both in the process. Somehow when you humble yourself before God and others He lifts you up. Don’t be afraid to tell others how you really feel. Often that is the bridge God uses to turn you pain into a platform of purpose and peace.
“Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
Please know that anything I ever share it’s not for self-pity. It’s in hopes that my faith journey encourages you on your journey. I don’t ever want to waste my God allowed pain. The greatest stuff I’ve ever seen has been through my pain. I thank God daily for every struggle along with every victory. The battle is never over as long as God is on your side. I pray for everyone of you often because I know everyday is a different battle.
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
I’m sick of saying it, feeling it and having to fight through it. Once again I’m in the heat of a battle I’ve faced so many times. Feels like someone has set my entire nervous system on fire. This time for some reason I just can’t find the off switch. In fact, I have no idea what has made my condition get so much worse recently.
Talking with my dad this week I realized he and I have something in common. He recently discovered that his cancer is no longer in remission. In his mind, the cancer was gone for good. Time has proven that it’s still there God has just been holding it back from overtaking him. Hopefully, dad’s present chemotherapy and radiation bring his numbers back down to remission.
As for me, this past week revealed that my nerve condition is far from cured. It has come back on me with a vengeance. Right this moment it has me feeling trapped and somewhat paralyzed in my own body. My radiating nerve damage feels as bad as ever before. I told dad that time has proven that neither of us have been cured, but God’s grace has been sufficient. God’s power has been revealed despite our diagnosis.
Anyone who has a chronic health condition knows it can disrupt your life in so many ways. The pain wrecks you physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and even spiritually. It puts you at a crossroads where you can either keep trusting God or let it derail every plan God has for you.
I decided long ago that I will trust God. No matter how I feel or what I can’t fully understand. Sure, you never like feeling miserable or out of control. However, it’s in these moments we realize only God can calm the storm or give us peace. He has swooped in on my behalf more times than I can count. I’m trusting Him again to hold my hand, calm my heart and take me through my otherwise hopeless condition.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord; Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of you faithfulness bring me out of this distress.” Psalm 143