Acceptance or Denial

Several times recently I’ve had people who really care about me compel some self-questioning. They wonder how I keep such a positive attitude in the midst of this never ending pain. That is apart from God giving me daily strength. God clearly is the obvious answer. However, I’m not sure that has answered all my questions. I’m wondering if I’m living in denial or acceptance.

If it’s fair I believe it’s a little bit of both. First, I have to live in a certain level of denial. Otherwise, how could I fully accept something that leaves me uncomfortable every second of every day? How can I keep fighting forward with hope if I only see myself as hopeless? How can I keep from crying all the time if all I do is swallow defeat? So, I’ve chosen to walk by faith that God is still in control and can change anything He sees necessary.

Now, there are many signs of healthy acceptance on my part. One, I wake up everyday doing all I can towards recovery because I know I can’t afford to roll backwards. Two, I calculate my daily steps knowing my health simply won’t allow me to live my past normal. Three, I keep processing it with people like you because it’s not in my head. In fact, it’s running wild throughout my body.

I’ve concluded that we all have our own coping strategies. Some of us don’t want to talk about painful stuff at all. Others of us, know we can’t keep it all inside. Regardless, you can acknowledge something and still not fully accept it. You can accept something in the present and still believe God can change it in the future. Each of us have things we feel have turned our world upside down and cause us so much pain. I’m living proof that even though you may feel like you’re going through Hell. God can still give you peace, promise, and purpose. In our hands it’s nothing but a burden. In God’s hands it somehow becomes a blessing.

“And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Waiting On My Rainbow

You would think I should be used to it by now. But, you never get used to rain falling down on your parade. I had gotten my shower, got dressed and was waiting on my wife to pick me up for supper at Cracker Barrel. By the time she arrived I was already melting due to nerve pain. The nausea was rising and every piece of my skin was crawling.

Fortunately, I didn’t try to force things. After all, I’ve seen this movie over a thousand times before. So, I told her I knew deep down it was best she and my youngest son go on without me. After all, I’ve ruined many an evening trying to ignore this pain. She could see my disappointment, but she too knew it was best I just walked back inside.

Here I go again sitting alone in a hot tub waiting on my nerves to settle. I quickly took medication that I’m certain will help me feel relieved soon. I hate it, she hates it and even my 9 year old hates his daddy can’t join them. I’m still not liking my reality, but I’m much quicker to embrace it. Just takes several years to swallow this much truth into your heart.

I’m still extremely grateful for my daily progress. I know how much worse I could be. I know what it’s like to feel completely hopeless. I feel really bad right now, but I’m still very hopeful about the future. However, I will spend another long, lonely evening asking to renew my body, mind, and spirit. This also means Sunday morning is going to be an incredible time of worship. God always follows these kind of storms with bright rainbows of promise.

“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures.” Genesis 9:13-15

It’s Been Awhile Because

It’s actually been 3 days since I’ve updated you on my condition. This week has been incredibly busy in a good way. And incredibly busy in a bad way as far as it’s impact on my body. Overall, I’m very happy with how my body is responding. I’m slowly but surely turning my recovery efforts in a greater direction of hope. Let me explain.

First, I have done daily light physical therapy exercises for ten days straight. This consistent movement has broken up so much stiffness gathered around my surgical area. Yes, my lower back continues to be very weak, sensitive and painful. However, my overall body is getting stronger and more flexible.

This past week I had several key appointments. One, I had two medical massages. Just keeping myself adjusted is critical right now. Then, yesterday I started going to a place that is helping me stretch properly. This is not to be confused with normal therapy. This place called “Flexible” not only teaches you how to stretch your muscles properly. But, they stretch you in way you can’t regardless of your limitations. Compared to countless physical therapy visits this place is in a league of its own. I will be going there once a week for the next ten weeks.

Overall, I feel God showing me how to keep the titanic from sinking. Sure, I’m exhausted and it’s far from easy. But, I can feel the movement helping and my momentum changing. Maintaining the necessary exercises under these conditions is way underrated. You can’t get where you want to go without the proper rest and movement.

I’m also back to walking more as well. Overall, I’m not focused on the distance or time. I just know nothing can replace the benefits of walking daily. Basically I change my position every 30 minutes from walking, sitting or standing. I continue to keep others informed of my condition and necessary boundaries. I’m just seeking to build healthy habits and translate this all into my normal every day lifestyle. I will definitely be spending today just getting some much needed rest.

“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

How Did People Survive?

I can’t imagine how those back in the dark ages dealt with certain severe pain. We’ve only been without power less than two hours and I’m beyond struggling. I need a heating pad or a hot bath badly. This weather outside is cutting through my body. I feel like someone broke into my house and kicked me repeatedly. All I can do is just lay here still and pray for comfort.

Praise God I’m waiting on my nighttime medications to kick in. Again, I can’t imagine not having something to help soften the torment. I also fully understand why so many choose to load themselves up with lots of narcotics. By the grace of God I’ve not had to go that route so far. Besides my allergic reaction to codeine God’s just protected me from certain drug addictions.

Daily I take 3200mg of Neurontin, 1200mg of ibuprofen, and 8mg of Zannaflex (muscle relaxers). Other than those prescriptions I take 15mg CBD caplets and use CBD Oil. I also take several supplements like Turmeric, Magnesium, Vitamin C, B12, Ginger, Vitamin D, Calcium, and a multivitamin. I can promise you it hardly puts a dent in the pain. However, without my prescriptions I could not function and certainly could never sleep. My spinal stimulator certainly helps a whole lot. Praise God my lights just came back on! God heard my prayers.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Why Am I Being So Tortured?

I’ve tried so hard to overcome this nerve pain. I still feel deep down there’s something I’ve just not figured out yet. This condition doesn’t give me even an inch of grace or a second of warning. For the last several hours I’ve felt like I could throw up any minute. It’s so mentally, emotionally and physically debilitating. Even the smallest task seems monumental.

My body woke me around 4:30am and I’ve never been back to sleep since. I did get five hours sleep, but time keeps proving that little bit won’t work for me. I have to get at least eight hours sleep daily or I will long to be tranquilized. God only knows what this torment feels like. I wish I didn’t know as it sucks the very life out of my body.

Even as I’m typing these words I’m shaking my head in disbelief. Is this really how it’s going to be the rest of my life? How long can I bear this torture? I genuinely mean it when I say I’ve never questioned God for what has happened. In fact, if I didn’t fully trust God through it all I couldn’t get out the bed each morning.

Honestly, I’m not walking around constantly in tears. I’m not even wanting to wallow in self-pity. I’m sincerely upset that I even have to burden my wife, kids or others with my struggles. Sadly, there’s no way to mask something that has a hold on your entire body and mind. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. If one of my children had this exact condition I would grieve for them morning, day, and night.

Just as Job felt I’m a little perplexed. To my knowledge I’ve done nothing to deserve such constant agony. Evidently this is God’s plan to reveal His greater power to the world. In fact, maybe I’m the primary student meant to learn the most from this fiery ordeal. Whatever the purpose it’s all I have to smile about when it comes to this pain. I will stop here because I’m still shaking my head in disbelief. Yet, I’m still trusting God with all the faith I can muster while feeling so miserable.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

3 Reasons Marriages Struggle

This August my wife and I will have been married 22 years. We started dating 26 years ago. I thought we would’ve mastered this marriage thing by now. The truth is it’s always a challenge. Loving one another is easy. Learning how to do so in an understanding way is a constant roller coaster. I’ve learned over time there are 3 key areas that lead to breakdowns in any relationship.

One, you can’t ignore the Christ factor. In fact, any relationship without Christ is bound for separation. Only a mutual faith in Christ can keep us together. Only a mutual surrender to Christ can help us truly become one. This life is full of stress and marriage is just a piece of paper to most. Only two people who remain united in their devotion to Christ and their relationship can weather the storms satan will constantly bring.

Secondly, there is the communication factor. It’s one thing to date someone, but another thing to live together. The longer you’re together the more communication must be developed. It’s no longer just about where would you like to go on your next date. It’s about learning how to talk about the good, bad, and ugly together. That is without wanting to fist fight. It’s about learning how to understand your spouse not just get them to understand you. I still believe this is the most challenging thing for most relationships.

Thirdly, there’s the compatibility factor. I do believe there’s a lot of truth in saying opposites attract. Usually we find someone who has opposite strengths and qualities than us. Typically we admire in someone else what we do not see in ourselves. In many ways God uses two imperfect opposites to make a healthier whole. Underneath the umbrella of Christ and communication we’re able to feel like a match made in Heaven. But, any time any of these areas get out of sorts our relationship suffers and everything feels like a chore.

Please know these struggles are normal for us all. My wife and I have to work through things everyday. There are days that nothing comes easy or feels right. There are other days that come real easy and feel wonderful. Just because your relationship feels like work doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. Anything worth fighting for requires dedication, sacrifice, sweat, and maybe even some tears along the way.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

Lord I Come To You

Dear Heavenly Father,

How Holy and awesome are your name. You are my rock, my refuge, my strength and my only constant peace in this life. You alone hold me together. Only by your grace can I find such favor now and have such a secure future later.

Thanks for blessing me in so many ways. For giving me parents that have always pointed me to you. For giving me a wife that completes me in every way. For giving me four boys that I know will grow up to be mighty warriors for you. For giving me a church family that loves me even in my brokenness. For giving me a platform daily to share the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ with others.

Forgive me for any way that I’ve failed you. Examine my heart and reveal anything that is not pleasing to you. Whatever you want I want dear Lord. I pray not my will, but your will be done. Help me not waste a second more of this brief life you have given me. Make much of you as I become less and less.

I’m lifting up to you not only my needs but the needs of all those around me. May all who are spiritually lost come to know Jesus the only Saviour of a man’s soul. May all who are hungry be fed. May all who are lonely find a true friend. May all who are grieving be comforted. May all who are weak be strengthened. May all who are losing faith have it renewed. May everyone feel your love, hear your voice, and choose to let you lead their lives.

Lord, I come to you not because I have to. I’m thrilled I get to by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. You are always there for me. You’ve never let me down and you’ve always taken me through even the lowest of valleys. I trust you with everything past, present and future. Use it all for my good and mostly for your glory!

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16

Squirming, Kicking, & Screaming

Yep, I would say that pretty much sums up me right now. From a physical standpoint there’s not much else I can do. It seems to be getting tougher and tougher to ignore. After all, you can only take so much of being completely uncomfortable. Mornings, days, and nights keep feeling like an absolute chore.

I told my wife earlier it’s just getting harder to handle. My mind and body are exhausted from dealing with the misery. Outside of God’s sustaining strength and grace I would’ve long ago given up. Thank God I’ve always felt like I have plenty to fight for and live for even now. Otherwise, I doubt things would look too good about now.

Anyone in my shoes can identify. It’s hard my friends it’s really hard. Even if I never get out the bed the pain is constant. My legs always ache and my body is rarely happy. My only chance at true relief comes only in my sleep. Even much of my sleep finds me squirming, kicking and screaming.

One day “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4

Life Has Definitely Changed

Fours years ago you could’ve never convinced me just how much my life would change. I’m not just talking about dealing with such life altering pain. I’m not talking about all the surgeries, injections, my spinal spinal stimulator or countless medical appointments. Sure, all those things have been surprising and very stressful in real time. However, I’m most shocked at the lifestyle changes I’m still having to make daily.

You see, I’m that guy most knew as Mr. Sweet Tooth. If you made a homemade cake, pie, or cobbler there was no one that would eat it faster. Man, I used to joke and claim that banana pudding was a vegetable. Now, here I am not just counting every calorie. I’m studying daily how sugar affects my body and making sure I eat the least amount possible.

A few years ago I was living wide open. I felt I was reaching my healthiest most thriving years. Now, I’m calculating my every step hoping I can endure another day. Seems I live in the bed or the bath. Every decision and move is an absolute fight of faith. I still can’t believe I’m having to get in this bed by 8pm every night.

In so many ways, I’m still at the graveside trying to say goodbye to the old me. Much like other griefs I’m shocked daily by the loss of my former health and life. Part of me still believes I could play tennis one day. Then, I stand up after a full night’s sleep and my legs tell me I’m crazy. The changes have been endless. Yet, I’m still believing and hoping tomorrow can be different.

Life has definitely changed in endless ways. Thank God I still have my wife, kids, ministry opportunity and can even still walk period. I certainly realize things can always get worse. But, my have things changed. It’s only confirmed that Jesus is the only constant peace, promise and hope for us all.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Still Learning In 1st Grade

I hate this feeling so much. In fact, it’s what I work so hard to avoid feeling on a daily basis. Once you feel this pain once you will do practically anything to not feel it again. Every fiber of me hurts so badly. I’ve taken all that I have for medications. Now, it’s just about waiting on the storm to calm.

After over 150 ounces of water you would assume any caffeine or processed sugar would be totally out of my system. Caffeine or sugar has to be causing my issues because it’s the only things different about this day. My skin has been crawling underneath for about 3-4 hours straight. Honestly, 3-4 minutes this way would make most sick.

The nausea is getting old. My body’s response to cool air is piercing. Any sudden sound or movement is hardly bearable. As much as I’ve experienced similar pain before you would think I would be used to it. I only had half the caffeine intake compared to most Sundays. But, I did have a small cup of ice cream last night and a small piece of cake today.

Honestly, my bet is on the sweets as little as it might seem. Evidently it’s just more than my body can digest with this nerve wrecked condition. Hoping to be out of my misery sooner than later. Seems it typically takes two days for sugar to completely catch up with me. All I can do is keep on taking notes and learning. I will make the necessary adjustments.

Worth The Pain

My body is finally shot from a long day of giving all I’ve got for ministry purposes. There’s no doubt that Sundays still take everything I’ve got to give and more. Not to mention that even limited caffeine used to stay focus beyond my meds is clearly an issue. Right now my entire body is vibrating with discomforting sensations. Therefore, I’m guzzling water hoping to rid my body of any unnecessary inflammation.

Regardless, I believe every ounce of pain has been worthwhile. I know I’m in the midst of seeing God do something incredible. Lives are being changed, marriages saved, and families are coming together in Christ. Deep in my heart I know I’m witnessing the early beginnings of something that is changing the world. I’m talking a movement that will one day be written about by others. All that can be fully explained is God is showing up and showing out.

It’s taken many steps of faith to see this season of watching God work so mightily. In fact, it’s taken a long time to learn how to get out of God’s way so He can have His way. Even then you never arrive or figure it out. You just keep taking one faithful God seeking step at a time while trusting in God’s faithfulness. Just like Jesus would say it was worth every ounce of His pain and suffering to die on the cross for you and me. I would say if only one soul comes to know Jesus my pain would not been in vain.

“Then he said 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

Take The Next Right Step

Slept almost 7 hours last night. Which is good for me on a Saturday night. Seems the devil always likes to gives me even greater fits prior to preaching on Sundays. He knows anything that ignites my nerves has a chance of wrecking me. However, I’m finding that the right God led strategy can help me out smart the devil.

For 3 nights and going on 4 days I’ve changed the way I’ve approached my pain. First of all, I make sure that I get in the bed as soon as I take my night time meds. In fact, by 6pm I’m in the tub settling myself down from the pain I know is quickly approaching me. Then by 8pm I’m taking my meds and crawling in my bed to be still. This has moved me from an average of 4 hours sleep per night to an average of over 8 hours sleep the past 3 nights.

In the mornings, I’m finding the first step forward is the biggest. Especially when my body is telling me there’s no way I can get up. After getting up I continue to change my positions. I’m not supposed to sit or stand in the same position for longer than 30 minutes at a time. This will be my 3rd day of light physical therapy exercises. I mix with this getting in a pool to take all pressure off my back. I’ve been keeping my outside activity to no more than 4-5 hours before I roll back in to call it a day and night. I still watch very closely what I drink, eat, and do around the clock.

Consistency really does matter. Taking the next right step really does matter. Being strategic as you learn how to best deal with your life altering condition really does matter. No, it’s not something you master and yes there will always be things you can’t control. But, there’s great peace when you’re doing all that you can while trusting God for all that you can’t. Your faith steps mixed with God’s faithfulness will help you overcome the evil one.

(Isaiah 41:10)”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.”

Lots Of Praise Reports

-Slept 9 1/2 hours last night

-2nd day of Light Physical Therapy

-Took a 30 minute walk

-2nd Day Of Pool Therapy

-Establishing Routine of activity, drinking water & bedtime

-Respecting My Limitations

-Scales say I’ve finally hit my most ideal weight of 175lbs.

-Lost 30 pounds in 6 1/2 months.

-Feeling More Empowered

-My recovery momentum has returned

-Lowest Pain Day In A Month

-No tears and mainly smiles

-Staying Humble While Continuing To Strive Forward

“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

God Spoke Big Through Friends

Today, God has spoken to my heart in many ways. I know He speaks through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and through circumstances. But, often He speaks through people. I won’t mention their names in order to give God all glory. However, two messages I received today gave me significant encouragement.

The first church I ever started in my home town reached many people. Every step I took I sought to let God lead through me. Then, about 5 years into this outreaching church plant I became extremely burnout. I felt led to resign and I tried to leave the church in good hands. The church ended up totally shutting down two years after my departure. It ripped my heart out to disappoint so many. God led me in 2011 to move my family to Walterboro.

Here is the encouragement I received from someone who use to attend that church and now attends the church I currently pastor. My previous church was called GracePoint and the one I started 6 years ago and still pastor now is called Refuge. This lady said out of the blue with no pre-conversation of this matter.

She said, “I’m so grateful you started Refuge because I’m not sure if we’d have a church otherwise. I’m grateful for Grace Point, too, because even though it may no longer be there, it still planted seeds with my kids (and myself) and to me, that is success. Refuge is watering what Grace Point planted! Never forget that.”

Then, less than an hour ago I read an email that was sent to me last night. I had already gone to bed so I missed reading this prayer last night. It still meant plenty to me as my dear friend lifted me up to the Father and spoke such encouragement over me in an email. Then, I read one line that grabbed my heart most. In fact, it released me from something that has weighed so heavy on my heart for so long. Especially since I can’t help so many like my health used to allow.

My dear brother in Christ prayed, “Please give him the discernment on how his time can be allotted. If that means his wife and family get 95% and everyone else 5% then please give him the sign that he can be let off the hook for matters that tug at his heart from outside of his family. Let him know that if he could not be at another bedside due to his condition that he has not failed You at all.”

When I read each of these statements relieving tears washed over me. Too often we rest our identity in who we help and how much we accomplish. Then, when life limits us greatly we have an identity crisis. God has to remind us often whose we are and who we are in Christ. I’m finding much greater peace as I learn to rely more on Christ instead of Craig.

“Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

I’m Still Learning So Much

Well, I only got 5 1/2 hours sleep last night. But, I can’t explain how much better I felt when I woke up. Yesterday, I just finally crashed. The tears and processing released many toxins. A little bit of sleep took me even further.

Today, was a good day for many reasons. One, I woke up resolved to change what I could on my end. Two, I’ve started back doing physical therapy exercises. This movement has already begun loosening some of the tension in my lower body. Thirdly, I will now get a medical massage every Tuesday and Thursday. I’ve definitely learned it’s critical the rest of my body stays aligned. Fourthly, I got into the pool for the first time this week. It was exactly what I needed along with quality time with my wife and youngest son.

Most of all, I feel like I am finally accepting certain realities. I know I can’t stay in any one position very long. Even laying in the bed too long can intensify my pain. I know I’ve got to get proper rest no matter what. So, tonight for the second straight night I will put myself in the bed by 8pm. My necessary limits are what they have proven themselves to be over time. So, as my body begins to give out once again I don’t feel depressed. I feel empowered because I’ve discovered many things that can help me deal better with my current condition. I’m also still believing God for my healing.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

Embrace Your Current Reality

Most of us know complete exhaustion melts a a man or woman down. Add to that exhaustion extreme pain and you’re going to have one devastated person. That’s what has collided with me of recent. I’ve gone an entire week with half the sleep this broken body requires for survival. This madness has only fueled my extreme aches and pains.

After nearly 5 1/2 hours sleep I realize just how much this combo has been my downfall. Just a little rest has lifted my spirit and reminded me how critical restful relief is for us all. I’ve also been reminded that I must keep listening to my body and learning from days go by. I am where I am at this time. I must respect my condition and accept my limitations.

One, I must do whatever it takes to get at least 8 hours sleep per day. This requires me going to bed consistently the same time every night. I have to put myself to bed like a much older man. It doesn’t matter what everyone else does or does not do. This is the life approach I must take to give myself the best fighting chance to thrive.

Two, I can’t operate intensely more than five hours per day. As a pastor I can easily spend night and day helping folks. Why? Because I care deeply about people and I pray that never changes. However, my current condition demands boundaries and I will do whatever necessary to be as healthy as possible.

Three, I can no longer live in denial. I have a major nerve condition that affects my entire life. It’s time for this truth to not just be in my mind, but be received in my heart. I must operate based on my new normal and quit comparing things to my old normal. It’s time to make all necessary disciplines a lifestyle change. Not just things I implement sometimes, but practice all the time.

Long trips generally won’t happen without a designated driver. Warning signs from my body will no longer be ignored. Physical therapy and self care will not be an afterthought. Apologizing for taking care of my health must cease. Getting too involved in multiple civilian affairs must be kept in check. Too much crisis intervention has proven time and time again to be my kryptonite. I will do what’s best for me which I believe will be best for others. Everyone may not understand my decisions, but all that matters is what God thinks.

Health issues impose their will upon everyone at some point. We might not like what the doctor reveals, but we can’t deny the facts. We have to do whatever it takes to make healthy choices. We can’t live in denial and just pray everything works out. We must do all that we can while trusting God to do all that we can’t. This will lead us towards being healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. I certainly plan to practice everything I preach to others. Now let me go back to sleep.

“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

Depression Keeps Knocking

There’s no way to deny that I’m battling the threat of a depression. Anytime you can barely sit, walk, or do things for an extended period of time it’s gonna discourage you. It’s been this way so long. I’m out of strength and so tired of this daily fight. I desperately need to get a good nights sleep.

Earlier I sought to go get my medicine from CVS and then hope to grab something to eat. While waiting in line my pain got so bad and I became so nauseous. Even the few items in my hand were too heavy for me to hold anymore. I basically put everything back I just shopped for and only purchased my prescriptions. I couldn’t get out of the store quick enough as I felt I could cry a river any second.

Fortunately, I made it back home which is a short drive. Afterwards, there was no way I could pick up something to eat with this terrible pain. Thank God I was able to get into my bed and turn this heating pad on. I’m definitely gonna have to crawl before I walk. I also have to acknowledge and deal with this depression that keeps knocking on my door. Overall, I’m far from giving up. I’m just absolutely give out.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

We’re Both Toasted Now What

My precious wife has been on this ride of pain with me for a very long time. She is certainly not a complainer. She has played the most significant role in my recovery journey. In fact, I know without her I would have given up a long time ago. However, we’re reaching a new season. A season where we’re both exhausted and tired of looking at this life altering pain.

Her grief and life adjustments have never been out of my sight. She has waited on me hand and foot for nearly four years. Helping me get out of the bed, tying my shoes and filling up the tub several times per day. She has held my hand and sat by my side more nights than I can count. Her life demands, burdens and roles have increased significantly. Her sleep, stress, and dreams have all been shattered by my condition.

She has seen all she can take of watching someone she dearly loves suffer endlessly. I can finally see that she desperately needs a break. I’ve accepted that’s it’s nothing personal, but necessary. From this point forward I’m going to try my best and keep this cross to myself. I know she grieves the husband she once had before. Sadly that guy has long been gone. I’ve got to be the best new me possible.

All I can do is try to keep to myself as much as possible. She doesn’t need to hear about my pain day and night. Of course, I can’t deny my struggles are wrecking my life and drastically affecting those closest to me. However, it’s time to take a new approach. To simply do all I can for myself and hope for as much normalcy as possible.

The guilt of a chronically ill person can’t be described. The weight of their caregivers carry can’t be measured. Seeking to love one another in an understanding way is the only way we can move forward. I definitely need to get back to seeing my counselor. I will also continue to adjust to this life altering pain. I love my wife dearly and I can’t thank her enough for walking with me through this valley. She definitely embodies a love that is only possible with God’s help.

“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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

I Cried My Eyes Out

It’s been nearly two weeks that I couldn’t withstand coughing, sneezing or laughing too hard. Anytime I even take a deep breath this coccyx pain takes my breath away. It’s like I’m being stabbed repeatedly. I had reached the point where this pain just wouldn’t stop and was taking me down daily.

Earlier I went to get my weekly medical massage. I shared with my therapist how I felt defeated and beyond discouraged. How something needed to change for me to quit rolling backwards. How I’ve averaged only fours hours of sleep per night the past four days due to my relentless discomfort. I almost broke down when I tried taking a deep breath and the pain started blaring so deeply.

Then, with God guiding her giftedness I felt some relief. She said, “You’ve definitely been on lockdown. The inflammation has even gravitated up into your abdomen.” With some adjusting I could actually take a big deep breath and not feel screaming pain. Tears of relief and hope poured down my face. I realized I had been in a prison of pain for quite some time. I discovered there was actually something that could help me.

Starting next week I will be getting adjusted twice a week. I will also be starting back some physical therapy. There are habits I must change as I retrain my mind and body to work best. The pain was just forcing me into a corner of fear and defense. Therefore, all of my lower body has been suffering greatly. For the sixth week in a row I’ve had a total meltdown. However, God has used every tear to calm my heart and release the pain.

“Jesus Wept.” John 11:35

In His Time

The pain I’m enduring is starting to wear me down. Whether morning, day or night it’s still there. There are short periods of time my medications take the edge off. However, my lower back and especially this coccyx pain just wont let up. You can’t run from something that is affected by sitting, walking, standing, driving or laying down.

Heat, ice, baths, and pools are my best hopes for greater relief. Medications are my only chance for sleep. Seems it’s getting harder and harder to get to sleep. Especially once the pain gets on top of me. All I feel in my lower back and body is constant throbbing.

Even still, I’m miles beyond how I used to be. There was a time when I never got sleep or relief. When I had no idea why I was going so crazy inside. When I had no ability to cope with my situation. When I could never focus because of my pain or medications. Often you have to be reminded of what God has done. Then, it encourages you to trust Him for what He still can do. I’m choosing to believe God will heal me in His perfect timing.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

When Things Aren’t Predictable

Whether we think so or not. We all long for certain things to be predictable. Especially when it comes to our physical, mental or emotional health. Often these things get out of line. It makes us feel out of sorts and discombobulated. Everything within us starts scratching and clawing to feel better. We long to feel like things are back on track.

I’ve personally been very disappointed by a shot I received a month ago. Not only are things not better in that particular area. I believe they may feel worse. I’ve been doing everything I can to stay top of things with my health. However, I can’t predict anything anymore except that things are unpredictable.

All I can do is run to the one who knows all and can see all. All I can do is trust the great physician when I can’t get any answers from my earthly physician. Sure, I would love to feel on top of things. I like things predictable and explainable. Life keeps showing me that this world will always be full of unpredictable. Therefore, my faith must rest on my never changing Savior instead of my ever changing condition.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Today’s A New Day

After only five hours of sleep I would usually still feel crippled. With my condition sleep is not an option if I hope for any quality of life. I’ve often said I’m much like a golf cart. Running at a high speed is really not an option. Once my battery dies my entire body starts to fold and nothing is an option.

All things considered I’m doing well today. Soreness is always going to be there and limits may surround me. Praise God the insanity and unbearable has ceased. Once again God has whispered “Peace Be Still.” I still feel stuck in a raging sea. But, God has calmed me even if the waves continue to crash around me.

You know, sometimes we just need help getting through the day. There’s no way out of our pain. Yet, God can carry us through the pain. Each day is different and an opportunity to see a brighter season. Often we have to experience extreme lows to appreciate the higher ground God puts us on. He is there all the time holding us together and helping us smile again.

“The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I’ve Never Asked God Why But

To my knowledge I’ve never asked why this is happening to me. I’m sure I wondered what really happened to me. In fact, I’m still trying to swallow the aftermath of this hurricane. It’s like having lightening strike you out of nowhere. It’s leaves you stunned and desperate for relief.

Now, I’ve continually asked God for relief. To ease my pain enough that I can smile. To carry me when I don’t feel I can carry on. To help he endure the next moment of discomfort. God has continually answered those prayers.

I also ask God daily to use this pain to encourage others. To show others through me that His grace is enough. I’m sure many see me doing nothing but complaining. But, I’m actually working through fears as I use the extinguisher of faith. So, far it’s helped me put out every fire and overcome every battle.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” )Ephesians) 6:12-17

You May Feel Like This Too

Your heart drops in disappointment. Your emotions feel like a roller coaster that never ends. Your response to how you’re doing changes every minute. Your worry about tomorrow has to wait because you’ve got to survive today. Welcome to the world of chronic pain.

Sadly, you don’t get to choose it, but it chooses you. You reminisce about days in the past you could do this or that. Unfortunately, painless days seems so long ago. You find them very hard to believe. Only God knows your pain!

I get it my friend because it’s the life I live daily. I still choose to believe things can change. I believe God is using everything for my good and His glory. Sure, it brings momentary depression. No, I don’t understand why it has to be this way. Fortunately, I have nothing to figure out. I just have to trust God throughout it all.

“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

Barriers To Breakthrough

I’ve been on edge for many hours today. I’m now toasted from head to toe. Inside my skin just feels burned. The pain on my surgical area is clearly an 8 out of 10. Nausea has been a constant. Best way to sum up how I feel is fried.

However, I see God doing more than ever. His voice is clearer than ever. No doubt that God is on the move within me and around me. My blinding discomfort makes it hard to enjoy. God’s obvious, powerful presence makes it hard to not celebrate.

One thing I know for sure. Anytime we get closer to our breakthrough. Satan seeks to break us down with relentless adversity. He’s not gonna give up territory he has dominated so long very easily. Therefore, our faith must stay in four wheeled drive. Our trust in God’s faithfulness must be where our confidence remains. If we stay on a God led course we will experience greater victory despite great adversity.

(Isaiah 41:10)(NLT) 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.

Listening To The Holy Spirit

Today has been exhausting and powerful all at once. Caffeine yesterday helped me stay focused to preach a funeral. Lots more caffeine today literally was the only thing that kept awake to preach two times this morning. After only 3 hours of sleep I was desperate for alertness. Been drinking lots and lots of water to flood out the caffeine that has literally buzzed my nervous system.

God did so much today during two powerful worship services. The miracles I witness each week compel me to keep giving all I’ve got. All I do is keep my ears and heart open to what God wants said or done. God speaks, I write it down, and then I share it with people. Many accuse me of speaking directly to them. Several said today “that message was made just for me.”

I’m starting to recognize even deeper the power of the Holy Spirit. Only God can give you spiritual discernment. Only God can breathe life into the spiritually dead. Only God can open ears, hearts, and minds to truly hearing His voice. All I keep seeking to do is allow God to pipeline revelation to me so He can pipeline His power through me.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13

Unfiltered Letter To God

Written: July 4th, 2019

Dear Heavenly Father,

You see the burden you’ve allowed to be placed put upon me. This thorn in my flesh. It affects me physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially day and night. It impacts my wife, children, family, friends and those I seek to minister to in so many ways. It’s like having to wear a straight jacket all the time. The misery I endure daily can’t be adequately put into words.

You know it leaves me kicking and screaming within often. How can I ignore the torture when it reaches certain levels and leaves me in a puddle of tears? You’ve stripped me down to my very core. You’ve exposed how much I can’t do without you literally holding my hand. You’ve allowed this extreme suffering to go on and on so much longer than I could ever had imagined. I see no end in sight this side of Heaven.

I feel misunderstood by so many. Yet, I’ve come to realize that most can’t understand what they’ve never experienced personally. We all only know the cross we’ve been called to bear. I’m well aware that everyone suffers in various ways. Pain or trials are no respecter of anyone regardless of age, race, position, finances or faith.

Now, I’m not trying to question anything you’re doing. I’ve known most of this journey that you are greatly at work. However, nearly four years after this appointed trial began I’m still trying to swallow all the life alterations. You never said it would be easy. You just made it clear that this faith walking journey was purposeful.

Of course, before it was a lot easier to preach to others. To tell them to trust God no matter what life throws their way. Then, came my turn to be hit directly by this hurricane of nonstop pain. All I can do is process things day by day. Sometimes only minute by minute. All I can do is rely totally on You for strength, direction, grace, and mercy.

No, I’ve not given up on Your ability to heal me. However, I know it’s not my place to determine when that healing takes place. So, I will wait for You to deliver me from this extreme affliction in Your timing. I see so much You are still doing within me, around me, and despite me. I know You are using this struggle to reveal to me and many Your grace, power, love, mercy, and glory.

So, I guess my prayer is that you continue to have mercy on me as you promised. Help me be faithful no matter what this life throws my way. Use this struggle dear Heavenly Father any way that brings you maximum glory for eternity. Even though, saying “whatever way” is hard for me to swallow at times. I trust you completely with my life. You have never failed me before. I know You will never fail me now or later.

“even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. 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)

Take Up Your Cross

It’s 2am and sleep is nowhere to be found. Maybe it’s because of the energy supplement I had to take at lunch time yesterday. Maybe it’s because of these restless legs that are killing me. Maybe it’s because my body only knows how to sleep very medicated. Maybe the devil knows I’m preaching for eternal life change this Sunday at Refuge Church.

This is certainly not unfamiliar territory for me. So, I’m not freaking out because I’ve been here before especially on Saturday nights. I know these are the times I’ve seen God work his greatest magic. When I’m totally depleted of my strength and forced to rely totally on His strength. When the devil is coming at me from every angle and I find myself desperate on my knees in prayer.

Of course, these moments are never welcomed. However, I can’t deny that God uses them to grow me and reveal Himself powerfully to others. My honest heart’s desire is to do the will of God. This life is short and these trials are temporary. I want God to use me to point countless souls to Jesus. If that means this is the cross I need to bear I’m willing to endure this suffering. Not because it feels good, but because it’s all about God’s glory being revealed in the end.

“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.“ Hebrews 12:1-3

We Have This Hope

God you know I’m trying with everything within me to cope each day. This pain wakes me up early and puts me in bed way earlier than I would like. It interrupts my life constantly. I’m not complaining for I know things can always be worse. I’m just being real about this struggle that has changed life as I once knew it. Help me Lord in ways only you can.

Even if you don’t calm the pain please calm me. Help me be a beacon of light for others who battle relentless pain. May they not see just my pain, but the peace you give me regardless of the pain. May they know the only reason I still smile is because of You. May they know the only reason I still have hope is because of You. You are my strength, shield, and steady pain manager.

For the one reading this right now. May they feel your love, hear your voice, and be encouraged. May they know that nothing placed upon them will ever be greater than You can handle. I know you will never leave them or quit caring about them. Meet all their needs in the midst of their pain. May they know there is only one healer and giver of never changing hope. His name is Jesus.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” Hebrews 13:8

“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

Staying On Track

Things are improving here on pain row. All day long my pain has been much more bearable. By all day I really mean half of day since I didn’t get out of bed until noon. When I did get up I felt much better than yesterday. Still struggling to sit anywhere for any real length of time.

I’m just having to swallow what works best for me to make it. One, I must stay in the bed at least 10-12 hours daily. Two, I can’t be out doing anything for more than four to five hours straight before my body will crash. Three, I must not sit or stand any longer than 30 minutes before changing to another position. Four, I must shorten my days as much as possible. I hate going to bed so early, but by 9pm I need to be medicated and waiting for my body to fall asleep.

Recent misery has me putting on the brakes every direction. I have to watch very carefully what I allow myself to do and not do. Without great discipline there is no way to ride this tidal wave of pain. The truth is that’s just the way it is and has to be at this time.

My legs feel so heavy and weary. I continue to use heat for comfort and ice for the inflammation. Praying I will fall asleep very soon. I need plenty of rest for this weekend. Tomorrow I will preach a funeral for a very dear lady. Sunday, I hope to preach my heart out at our two morning worship services.

Praying for each of you that are struggling. I encourage you to listen to your body and keep applying what you learn. Make every adjustment necessary to deal best with your condition. Then, trust God to do what you can’t while you do all that you can. Remember, every decision you make really impacts things.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27

He Rescued Me Again

Earlier I felt like I was stuck in an ant bed. I had moved from uncomfortable to unbearable. I simply did what I’ve had to to do so many times before. I cried out to my God for help. I took my nighttime meds just hoping for sooner than later relief.

While fighting the pain I needed to finish preparing my message for this Sunday. Ironically it’s called “In The Waiting.” I struggled to sit or focus due to the pain. God used the truth he revealed for my sermon to encourage my heart once again. I know I’m in this season for a divine reason.

Praise God I finished my sermon and relief has come. My son put one of our outdoor patio recliners in my room. This allows me to position my body to whatever is most comfortable. I continue to use heat and ice for comfort. I’m going to bed with great comfort and peace knowing God will always take care of me.

“He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” Psalm 18:19

Jesus Take The Whole Wheel

I’ve spent another day in the bed or bath every second. I did take a 15 minute walk hoping to work out some of my discomfort. Sadly this tailbone pain continues to control my entire ability to do anything. This is without expecting to enjoy anything. Shoot, I can’t even walk from my bed to my bathroom without extreme pain. I can’t even sit in any position for a few minutes without great discomfort.

My morning and afternoon were pretty painful. But a few hours ago the pain moved to a much higher level. I could not understand it since I had just woken up from a two hour nap. Then, I went to reach for my nighttime medication. I realized that I totally missed my 2pm medication. As if I needed any fuel to the fire raging within me. So, I’m just getting anymore medication in me since 8am.

There’s no denying the torture I feel at this time. Yet, there’s absolutely nothing I can do except wait out this storm. Lord knows I needed to take extra meds not miss my normal dose of meds. I never miss taking things on time as I set several alarms and always strategically keep things with me. The devil is testing me again and I know it. I’m just going to let Jesus take it all so He can use it all for His glory.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

God Has A Plan Anyway

I stayed in the bed over 17 hours straight. Out of that time I managed to get nearly 10 1/2 hours of sleep with the help of additional muscle relaxers. I hoped to wake up to an entirely new body. The majority of my body did get refreshed. However, this coccyx pain has continued to be piercing to say the least.

With every step, cough, laugh or sudden move it easily takes my breath away. We’re talking the exact area I just got a shot in over 3 1/2 weeks ago. While I’m very disappointed I don’t feel helpless. I will still get another shot in late August by my new pain management doctor. Plus based on past experiences this shot could still bring greater relief in days ahead.

In the meantime, I’m doing all I can to research this matter that has been forced upon me. From therapy, exercise, diet, rest, massage, shots, or other procedures I’m willing to do anything that might bring improvement. I’m thinking about get my nerves burned since that has never been done before. I will discuss this with my doctor on August 1st.

I sincerely believe when you’re willing to do your part God will bless your faithfulness. Healing might not happen in my time. It might not happen in the way I expect. Certain things I may just have to learn to live with in this life. Whatever God has planned I trust Him every step of the way.

“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

Lord, I’m Trusting You

Most should know by now that I choose to write in the pain. Its the only time I can fully articulate my emotions. I don’t have to make up sights and sounds. All I need to do is flesh out my current reality. This pain compels me to write and helps me connect with so many of you.

After finally having to take Valium I’m just laying on my side waiting with a heating pad turned up high. Waiting on the pain to not be breathtaking. Waiting on my heart to settle down. Waiting not to feel just so bad overall. I told my wife earlier it’s just so painful, disappointing and embarrassing.

First, I hate hurting so badly it makes me want to vomit. Two, I get very disappointed because I try so hard to stay on top of my health. Every time this happens it knocks the air out of my sails. Three, I still get embarrassed by my condition. I hate for people to see me so weak, struggling to focus and so on edge.

Now, just because I’m honest doesn’t mean it’s easy for me to be. I simply believe I can’t expect others to be honest if I’m not totally honest. At the end of the day all I can do is trust God. Only He can make sense of the madness.

“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

Find Your Median Life

Earlier today I was ready to declare this breakthrough Tuesday. That was not long after my weekly medical massage. While I still had some pain I felt miles beyond my normal. Seems like the slightest bit of relief leads me to believe I’ve been miraculously healed. Every quality moment really does lift my spirit to new heights.

Then, I got home only to run into this wall of complete reality. I felt like I could barely get in the door if I had to walk another step. At least without wanting to throw up from the nausea of nonstop throbbing pain. Seriously, I felt like a school boy begging my wife to go fill the tub up once more with hot water. Sadly, it appears I will spend another evening soaking to calm the pain.

Now, let me praise God that I’ve had three consecutive good days. The improvement tempted me to do way more than my body will allow. I’ve literally been going nonstop the past three days from morning until night. Now, reality has knocked the denial clean out of me.

Is this not how life constantly feels. Breakthrough feels so close one moment. You feel so close to breakdown the next. This makes you feel low and helpless. It’s hard to see the positive in the cloud of the pain.

Tonight, I’m asking God to help me live with balance. Balance between the proper rest and activity. Life doesn’t always give us this option. When it does we must choose wisely. We must consider our health and limitations. Otherwise, we will pay for it most of the time.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

Think Moments, Not Days

I’ve not genuinely smiled inside for what seems like weeks. Yes, I have a wonderful wife and four God-given sons who give me plenty of joy. God has blessed me with many friends and family. I love being a pastor and the opportunity to encourage others forward by faith.

However, my health has revealed that it’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re experiencing nonstop suffering. Misery can easily knock every ounce of joy out of you. I reached the end of my strength a long time ago. Now, I’m learning how to still find joy through the pain.

Outside of doing all I can to take care of my health. I believe I’ve discovered something that can help restore some joy. Instead of just seeing all you can’t do seize what you can. Look for the moments you can treasure. Instead of watching the entire day go by.

Today, I made a hospital visit. Then, I went and ate supper with my wife and nine year old. We weren’t gone long, but I actually enjoyed our time together. Getting out some I find is much better than not getting out at all.

For me, I’ve decided that I will simply look to enjoy one or two moments each day. I will rest properly, diet as necessary, and keep learning of how deal with my constant anxiety. Then, in between all that stuff I will not allow Satan to keep me from enjoying all the good stuff. I’m going to bed tonight with much greater joy in my heart and a genuine smile on my face.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5

Stuck In A Fiery Furnace

If I’m really honest, I’m scared. In fact, I’m very scared because I sincerely don’t know what the next minute will bring. My nervous system is no longer failing me sometimes. It’s back to failing me all the time. No matter what I’ve learned and try to apply. It’s no longer getting out of control, but staying out of control.

For four weeks in a row I’ve had the return of major anxiety attacks. When I first get out the bed, during the day, at bedtime and throughout the night. I can’t shake them or run from them. Why? Because they are connected to the body that is holding me hostage. My nerves feel like ice water running throughout my body. Outside of prayer there seems to be no water I can find to put out the flames that literally consume me from head to toe.

The longer this goes on without answers I do wonder how much more I can take. These consistent days of torment appeared to be in my distant past. It’s like the horror of nonstop torture has started over. I’ve not given up trying, but I will readily admit that I’m giving out. My heart hurts, pounds, and wonders what else I can do about every other breath.

In the meantime, I’m trying to continue to tweak my spinal stimulation which I don’t think has been the same for awhile. I do think what I eat matters. However, I believe as long as I don’t digest excessive sugar or caffeine I’m fine. I’m back to keeping a close look at my daily activity from every step to every situation. No doubt that my lower back is staying very sore and even 10 hours sleep didn’t change that a bit. I know deep within God will sustain me.

Thank God I’m calmed at the moment. By calmed I mean don’t feel like I’m going to cry a river and don’t feel like I need a Valium. My calm inside would feel like most people’s chaos. I’ve learned how to deal with pain and unpredictable moments. However, when I don’t get a break for endless hours, days, and weeks it’s a much different story. God has met me at this desperate place before. I’m believing He will do it again in His perfect timing.

“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

I Can Feel It

I hear the words of a song my dad and I both used to sing. Except this time I can actually feel them. “Somebody’s praying I can feel it. Somebody’s praying for me. Mighty hands are guiding me to protect me from what I can’t see. Lord, I believe. Lord I believe. Somebody’s praying for me.”

Earlier I felt like I was pinned to the ground. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make progress. No matter how much I tried to focus I couldn’t see forward. My body once again failed me. My mind once again thought I was drowning.

All through the night and day I was just trying to hold on to my sanity. Every now and then I would whisper a prayer for help. Then, came the mighty helper once again. He swooped in and ran away the hovering buzzards. He picked me up, cheered me up, and gave me the breakthrough I desperately needed. No, all my pain is not gone. But, thanks to the prayers of many God continues to breath life into my weary flesh.

“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

Thank You God

All night was full of tossing, turning, and constant anxiety. No question my system was easily bugged again. I believe it was the caffeine I attempted to consume. I simply drank two cups of coffee last night. And, I only drank half the amount of water I have been drinking daily.

I do have several praise reports. One, after a lot of water everything seemed flushed out of my system late this morning. Also, I was called by my primary doctor about my recent blood work. Absolutely nothing looked abnormal after testing. I’m extremely grateful for the good news after another rough night.

God knows I’m doing all I can in this constant bear fight. There’s no doubt that caffeine and processed sugar is at the top of things to avoid. However, to battle this nightmare you have to look at countless factors that can take you down. In the midst of it all, you have to keep finding reasons to give God praise!

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

One Part Affects Many

My nerve pain is calmed down for now. Sadly the hours spent in the tub for relief festered other issues. Yet, I knew no other alternative to dialing things down. My feet and hands were both itching like crazy. Hopefully they have settled down.

It’s absolutely crazy all the ways I’m affected by this nerve damage. Muscle spasms in both legs and shoulders. Constant heat or ice on the lower back. Itching all over activated by water, sweat, or stress. Not able to function anywhere near my hopes and expectations. Limited whether sitting, standing, driving or laying down.

Hard to believe how one dysfunctional part of the body can cause all the others to suffer so much. The rest of your body tries to over compensate for the weakness. Next thing you know all parts are feeling weak. Trying to manage the root and catalyst of it all is like riding a wild bull. Finally going to be now.

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Taking Up My Cross

There’s no denying that numerous factors can set off this body full of brokenness. Back pain, spinal stimulation, sugar, coffee, lack of sleep, too much exercise, not enough exercise, stress, socializing, dealing with anything to be honest. All I know is I stay one degree away from boiling over most of the time. So all it takes is one of these things getting out of whack and my system starts crashing.

All I can do is study the signs and look for the signs of warning. There’s no use in kicking and screaming. I’ve got to learn how to live my best normal now. I coach and counsel myself from sun up to sun down. Everyday I consider how I can approach today more wisely than yesterday. I’m learning more everyday how to best walk through this pain.

Like someone having to learn how to walk again. Like someone having to accept they can’t walk at all like before. Like someone clueless, but willing to let God take them wherever He knows they should go. I’m having to return to a childlike faith. The kind of faith where you just take up your cross daily and follow Him. I can promise you that my faith will not be based on my feelings or circumstance.

“Then Jesus said 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

God Will Fight For You

It’s Thursday night and I’m feeling those same familiar vibrations I felt before. The ones that ultimately led to total breakdowns the past two weekends. I’ve started back guzzling water hoping to run out this poison if it’s possible. Now anyone vibrating from head toe could never say they are doing great. However, I do believe the past has prepared me to sustain the front of this potential hurricane.

Back in the tub I’ve gone which usually leads to countless hours of watching and praying. Past storms have held back the panic attacks so far. I know firsthand that nothing I face will keep me down forever. That regardless of what happens God will use it for my good and His glory. And that even when He doesn’t calm the storm He will always calm me.

Even with many past experiences satan always tries to rattle my cage. He longs to make me feel depressed, hopeless and defeated. He hates I’ve learned this battle belongs to the Lord. He hates that I’m learning most of his strategies. It’s ironic that his greatest attacks come every time I’m closest to my biggest breakthroughs.

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14

I’ve Not Drowned Yet

Sitting here trying to finish up sermon preparation for Sunday. Early this morning I couldn’t have felt more confident and clear about things. I just knew God was feeding me life changing words to share. Throughout my day many things served as great distractions. It was like trying to focus on something while flies come at your face from every direction.

All day long I’ve had to keep rocking, moving, twisting and trying to sit comfortably. Seeking to dodge this pain is like being in the middle of a constant dodgeball game. I’ve used ice or heat countless times hour by hour. Once I got the pain bearable I was flooded with a vision fog I still can’t remove. I’m hoping to wrap things up, but I just keep running in place. My medications and condition make focus, clarity or confidence totally impossible.

In the past, I would just be saying what is going on with me. However, this has been going on week after week for three years and ten months. It blows my mind to even realize how long I’ve actually been dealing with such madness. It also reminds me how much only God has made anything possible. Somehow God has made the unbearable, bearable. He’s made the seemingly impossible, possible. Every time I feel like I’m going to drown God steps in and parts the Red Sea again.

“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)

No One Sees Your Pain

You don’t look like you’re sick. I saw you smiling and laughing earlier. What’s wrong with your attitude? Seems like everything bothers you. You doing alright because you look much better? After awhile you don’t even feel like defending or explaining yourself.”

I know this is a frustration and reality for so many battling chronic pain. You feel no one else can see the depth of your pain. Your efforts to explain appear to have fallen on deaf ears. They forget what you said less than a minute later. You remember what you said every minute of everyday.

How do I know this you might wonder? I have and I do live this reality. I’m very uncomfortable in my own skin most days. I’ve concluded that I can’t expect anyone to truly understand something they’ve not personally experienced. After all, I never knew this kind of pain until it entered my body. Until I had to live with this constant thorn in the flesh. I didn’t understand a lot of things before now. So, in a sense it’s a gift of understanding that will help you encourage others who need your new understanding.

Listen! God sees your pain my friend. He hears your every prayer. He will take you through the most difficult days. He will always understand exactly what you feel, think or need at the moment. Cast all your cares upon Him.

“Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. Hebrews 4:15-16

Not Feeling Good Vibes

This pain continues to force itself upon me. Nothing for feels easy anymore. The pain in my lower back surgical area feels as fresh as ever. The vibrations in my lower body are extreme. Just the least bit of stress takes me over the edge. Like it or not my body is shipwrecked.

I could easily say that’s fine and who cares. However, that would be the biggest lie ever. A big part of me is still fighting to fathom the severity of my condition. I just can’t wrap my head around living like this for years to come. In fact, all I can do is seek to swallow each day’s challenges.

Went to the doctor this morning to get blood work done. Hoping to see what might be going on inside my body. Due to all my weight loss my blood pressure is actually way too low. So, the doctor is taking me off my blood pressure meds. I’m sure my low blood press is not helping my energy level. My spirit is just zapped as my body continues to body slam my emotions.

I will not just lay here and let satan steal my life away. Gonna take my little Faith Walker to see the new Toy Story movie. With God’s strength I will be able to endure and smile. Sometimes, you can’t afford to keep waiting on things to change. You need to seize the moments that you can.

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

Dear Caregiver

Yes, this message is just for you. You may not be the primary patient in that house. But, you love that person so much your pain can’t be measured. You pray and pray for them to be healed. You at least hope they find greater relief. God knows you are doing your best to be their greatest support system.

All the while you’re personally suffering so much. Tucked away is your own grief, disappointment, and life altering pain. No, you’re not at all trying to be selfish or take center stage. You’re just exhausted, heartbroken and bleeding emotionally inside. You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Here’s a few things you must know my friend.

One, you are appreciated more than words can express. Just because it’s not always said it goes without saying the difference you make. Two, it’s okay to express your heartache and struggles. In fact, for this struggle not to take you totally down you’ve gotta process your pain with someone. Thirdly, take care of yourself. Do whatever you can to be healthy while you continue caring for that other unhealthy person. Never doubt God is always with you both. Words can’t express how much I love and value this woman who has chosen to stay by my side through it all.

(Isaiah 41:10)(NLT) 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.

Ongoing Pain Changes You

Any prolonged suffering wears out it’s welcome quickly. Especially if it stares you in the face every direction. When you can’t just get over it. Instead, you must keep asking God to take you through it. Therefore, even with a very positive outlook nonstop pain changes you.

Chronic pain is a never ending battle. The longer it wears you down the more it tears you down. Sure, you can try to ignore it and cure it yourself. However, time proves you’re fighting a battle much bigger than you. A battle that requires you just keep taking the next faith led step. You can’t deny this pain demands your attention.

Ongoing pain disrupts your entire life. Physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. It forces you to adjust your overall approach to life. It humbles you and lets you know only by God’s strength can you make it. You can’t always change it. God does want to use it to change you.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

20 Things I Monitor Daily To Cope

SLEEP

I need at least 8-9 hours of actual sleep per night for my best chance at a decent day. Generally I spend at least 10-12 hours daily in the bed asleep or awake. Often the only comfortable position is laying on my side. I wear a Fitbit Blaze to keep track of my sleeping patterns.

SPINAL STIMULATOR

Periodically this must be adjusted by a professional. I daily look for signs of necessary adjustment. Nausea, racing heart beat and feeling strong unbearable vibes throughout my body can be over stimulation. Not having my stimulator on high enough leads to increase pains and honestly life is not bearable.

MEDICATIONS

Every week I put together my medicine box. I have alarms set for three times a day. I take a few prescriptions, several supplements, and make sure I have emergency medications always on standby. I just carry a backpack with me everywhere I go so everything is with me.

SITTING

Not supposed to sit longer than 30 minutes straight.

STANDING

Nor supposed to stand longer than 30 minutes straight.

DRIVING

Any driving can put me in a fix very quickly. With heat steady on my back I’m good at best for a 30 minute consecutive drive. My wife always drives me whenever possible because it’s always such a risk.

EXERCISE

Walking is critical to keep any movement in my lower back. If I can’t walk I seek to get to the pool. Either of these things are best to be kept to no more than 30 minutes to an hour. But, exercise must be planned and timed to keep me in balanced and going.

STRETCHING

Before I walk out the door I have to do certain stretches due to my extreme stiffness. This is something I try to do a few times throughout the day anywhere.

HEAT & ICE

There has not been a day in a very long time that I’ve not used a heating pad or ice pack. I have every version available. Those for home and away. Heat is my best friend everyday. In general the temperature around me and on me always matters. Cold weather can wreck my entire nervous system.

BATH

I spent 90 percent of a 3 year period in the bath or bed. I’ve spent 7-8 hours straight in the tub many times. I spend on average 3-4 hours daily in the tub as the combo of the heat and positioning are my biggest bailout for relief.

WHAT I EAT

I try to eat any foods I can that are supposed to reduce inflammation. I’ve got to consistently stay away from foods that easily flair up nerves. Extra sugar or caffeine intake is a big issue. One poor decision can lead to an absolute day of torment. I’m just at the start of my learning in this area.

WHAT I DRINK

I’m now back to drinking only water daily. I drink at least half my body weight in ounces per day. It is critical I stay hydrated with all my skin and nerve issues.

SKIN CONDITIONS

My diagnosed dermatitis and dermographism are skin conditions related to my nerve damage. You can’t allow your skin to get very dry. Symptoms are flared up by too much water, stress, or high level nerve pain. I keep deep healing lotions near me at all times. Plus take morning and night prescription meds to contain it.

STRESS

My chronic neurological condition forces me to proactively monitor stress. I only make so many intense appointments per day or week. I can’t spend long around toxic people. I just can’t deny that too high of stress levels makes everything go haywire.

LENGTH OF DAY

Typically I make sure that anything I’m doing is scheduled between 11am and 5pm. Any exceptions call for making other adjustments and literally getting in the bath between major appointments. Really anything more than 4-5 hours straight can cost me for days in extra pain.

LETTING GOD USE IT

For me sharing and writing are healthy. It’s then I know I’m being honest and giving God full use of it to be healthy. There’s never a time I pocket my pain because it never stops. Instead, I’ve embraced that God wants to use my pain to comfort others through their pain.

LEARNING & PRAYING

You can accept things for where they are while still believing God to take things further. I know I have permanent nerve damage throughout my body. So, I keep learning daily from research and others how to best deal with it. I also keep praying for God’s healing in God’s timing. I never give up on God because I know He will never give up on me.

ENERGY

I have to take things daily for energy and focus. Whether it be Mixed Greens Energy by GNC. Or I take something called GFuel. Both you just add to water and both work well. They are way healthier than any market energy drink.

POSITIVITY

Being positive is a mindset you must adopt. Sometimes it comes easy and other times it’s simply a discipline. No matter what I feel or face I purposely strive to find the good and God Stuff.

REALNESS

Daily I have to get over my pride. After all, who does like to sound like the wimpiest kid on the block. I strive to remain totally real with those inside and outside my home. It frees me to not feel I have to mask my pain or commit to things I know I’m not healthy enough to do.

Well, that’s just getting started on some of the physical and mental things I have to monitor due to my condition. No, you can’t change all your circumstances or condition. But, you can determine to do all that you can while trusting God for all you can’t.

No One Wants To Hear This

I don’t have anything terrible to share with you today. However, I do believe some of what I will say most don’t want to hear. I really didn’t in my past days. I’m all ears now because reality has opened my eyes wide. My life has been disrupted by this painful truth. So, here it is my friends.

Many know this past weekend I had another complete neurological meltdown. Just like the many before it left me feeling like just a shell of myself. Fortunately, I did watch closely my life patterns, activity and eating habits in recent days. I was able to clearly detect that just back to back nights of a little extra sugar crashed my system. One time could have been considered coincidence, but it’s very rare that lightning strikes twice.

At that time, I was already watching portion control, eating healthier, drastically avoiding desserts, and only drinking lots of water daily. All I did was step out of those boundaries two nights for a cup of ice cream and a small milkshake. Yet, there is absolutely no denying that those few poor choices led to extreme neuropathy I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

So, here is what I know for certain. There is no denying that every choice we make matters. That what we eat or drink drastically affects our health. I believe it majorly affects both the quality and longevity of our lives. Now, I’m just in kindergarten of what I know to eat, drink and do to live differently. But, I’m thirsty for knowledge, understanding and life change.

I will keep learning all I can about this matter. Whatever truth I discover I will apply to my life. Plus, I will share what I learn to help others who really want to be and feel healthy. Crazy thing is all I’ve changed is what I eat and drink since Saturday’s meltdown. Here I am feeling ten times better than the alternative.

Discipline, prayer, continual life adjustments, application of truth and 13 1/2 hours total sleep last night have me right back on track. I will spend many days ahead learning how my body works best. And, I will scratch off my list anything that I know is harmful to my future. I pray you decide to do the same.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

I’m Officially Broken

Last Sunday and this past Saturday were two of my most painful days ever. Probably because they are my most recent days of complete torture. No I’ve never been kidnapped, homeless, beaten up by someone, or diagnosed with some terminal illness. I do know what it feels like to think your entire insides are being fried with no way to stop it. To hurt so bad for many hours and you would do almost anything for some relief. To cry so deeply you’re afraid your guts might leak out.

Most know that I have a severely nerve damaged body. Without warning I can feel like someone has thrown me into an electric chair. I deal with sharp tingling all the time in my lower body. However, it’s when I’m vibrating continuously from my feet to my face that I really do think I’m going insane. Two of my worst days like this have come back to back weekends.

How I preached back to back services today is an absolute tribute to God alone. I spent all evening crying out and working out my pain. With every tear toxins flooded out my body. I’ve only had two hours of sleep the past 28 hours and counting. If I didn’t know any better I would sincerely think I just got in a very bad car wreck. That I should be in the hospital with IVs full of pain medicine.

Now, I won’t bore you with any more details. Just understand my severe pain has proven to be a present life sentence of misery I never imagined possible. Doctors can only guess about solutions and man can only do so much. You can bank on the fact that if it can be done I’m seeking to do it. From how I eat, sleep, socialize, pray and process things I’m willing to do anything just to even reduce some of my pain.

Sadly, I believe I’ve reached a new level of awareness. This painful reality has given me a degree of PTSD. This painful reality has proven to be a daily war, not just an occasional episode. I’m far from giving up, but I’m officially broken. I thought I was there before, but this time I reached an all time low. I won’t quickly forget what I’ve endured and what I could endure at anytime.

I can promise you I’ve seen the light. Humbly, I realize I’m far from figuring things out. I will be do anything possible from this point forward to discover any possible solutions. I will eat as wisely as I can to decrease my neuropathy. I will get whatever bloodwork and testing man can provide. I will go to the best of the best doctors just to make sure there’s nothing more I can do. For once you’ve been totally broken you will come to your senses. You will be willing to do anything possible to ensure you’re headed towards hope and peace. God knows I’m willing to try and do whatever I can while trusting Him to do all I can’t.

“I was living quietly until he shattered me. He took me by the neck and broke me in pieces. Then he set me up as his target, and now his archers surround me. His arrows pierce me without mercy. The ground is wet with my blood. Again and again he smashes against me, charging at me like a warrior. I wear burlap to show my grief. My pride lies in the dust. My eyes are red with weeping; dark shadows circle my eyes. Yet I have done no wrong, and my prayer is pure.” (Job 16:12-17)

I Can Relate To Job

I can relate to the book of Job in so many ways. He felt like he couldn’t handle what suffering God was allowing. He said it’s too much. Lord why don’t you just take my life. In fact, why did you even let me born for such pain. His grief was constant and insane.

He suddenly lost all of his 7 children in one day. Which I can’t begin to fathom. However, when Satan was allowed to inflict extreme torment upon his own health he officially came unglued. He was having more than a routine nervous breakdown. He was actually thinking how much easier death would be than his pain.

His friends journeyed to his home to provide much needed support. Each of them were clueless of this man’s pain. They tried to preach to him when he just desperately needed a friend. They tried to shut him up when he just needed to process his deep, deep sorrow. They tried to blame him for his suffering instead of just praying with him.

Job felt so misunderstood and miserable. Yet, he never doubted God’s goodness and faithfulness. He did question why he ever deserved such heartache and pain. It was all Job could do to hold on. The only way he made it through his suffering was God took him through. He just kept his little hand in God’s big hand. It made all the difference as his suffering felt endless.

“Lying in bed, I think, ‘When will it be morning?’ But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.” (Job 7:4)

My Saturday Became Sunday

Today’s Saturday officially became last week’s Sunday. My escalating nerve issues shook my insides hour by hour. This led to psychotic behavior and being someone who felt totally out of control. The longer things went on my anxiety level kept rising. I didn’t know how to stop this nightmare roller coaster.

Finally I reached such a panic point. I had to call my parents for prayer. I barely got through sharing the jest of how I was struggling and then the dam just broke. I became like a young child crying over his first major boo boo. I could barely speak and I couldn’t deny that built up toxins were flooding through my tears.

The only similar common denominator is sugar. Last weekend I ate a bunch of marshmallows two nights in a row and then my body absolutely crashed that third day. This weekend I ate ice cream two nights in a row followed by neuropathy soaring to unlivable heights. I’ve felt totally crazy and I’ve acted totally crazy. I can promise this battle is not just in my head. As meds kickoff just pray I can rest off this madness that is stealing every ounce of my joy.

“But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. 2 Samuel 22:7

Asking God For Wisdom

I’m now some better than I was I believe. I’ve not really uttered many words out loud or got around anyone. I’ve just laid prayerfully still in my bed. I can still feel my heart racing. It’s like having a constant seizure internally when this stuff hits. I wish I could make sense of it more.

I’m just studying and studying how I will eat, drink and process things moving forward. I’m definitely leading towards whole foods. And I’m looking at all foods I should intake and all I should avoid. I’ve drastically changed so much, but it appears every change is so important. Basically I’m treating myself like I have severe diabetic neuropathy. I will discuss this much further with a physician and get current bloodwork.

I’ve literally drank 100 ounces of water in just a few hours. I just turned my stimulator back on. I switched it to come on once every hour instead of every 45 minutes. I truly don’t believe my stimulator was or is my greatest issue. All I can tell you is lots of water helps, diet matters, and all I can do is keep making adjustments.

I’m still very hopeful because there is so much more for me to learn about my condition. Whatever I discover I can do I will do. I will totally trust God with rest. And I will keep taking the next best step.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

My Heart Is Breaking

Warning: This is just me sharing the guts of where I am right now. Here I am again vibrating from feet to face. Fortunately and unfortunately this is familiar territory. My heart is racing and has been for a few hours. Last night was the only night I had anything with major sugar or caffeine. It was a small milkshake from Sonic and a medium Diet Coke from Wendy’s. I came home immediately and kept guzzling water like a horse to flush anything toxic out my body.

Last night I went to bed with some clear vibration in my legs. I didn’t feel it elsewhere, but I did feel a little on edge. I didn’t change my stimulator since it’s been helping me overall so much. Even though I just turned it off for just an hour or two I still don’t believe it’s the issue. On top of so many factors to watch my diet is now at the top of my list. I will finally meet with a nutritionist this coming Wednesday.

Sadly this is something that makes me an absolute mess and monster. The treble in my own voice shakes my very core. The sound of others’ voice and even footsteps sound louder in my head than I could ever explain. I simply can’t handle the smallest conversation and feel like I’m going crazy in the moment.

Even right now my heart is still pounding as I seek to process silently alone what is raging inside of me. My own wife has seen this many times, but it’s clear she can’t understand why I am so on edge. How things can change so quickly and leave me feeling like a crazy person. I’m afraid I’m dealing with a condition only God fully understands. Something only those who deal with a health issue that can’t be fully explained yet rocks their life continually beyond their control.

I don’t feel hopeless, but it does break my heart deeply. I hate this thorn in my flesh that interrupts my life daily. I hate not knowing what might happen next. I hate sitting here just waiting on this raging storm to settle. God knows if I didn’t have Him I would have committed myself somewhere. Somehow and someway God keeps carrying me through a form of torment I would never wish on anyone.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

Humbling, Healing, Going, Growing

It’s been a great two days compared to the last many before. My spinal cord stimulator continues to provide consistent relief. My recent shot injection site has remained bearable. Even despite only 4 1/2 hours sleep last night I’m encouraged by what I’m feeling. Of course, I definitely need to get much better sleep tonight if my body is to keep healing.

As I continue to let God use my story I’ve noticed something. I’m still grieving deep inside the old me. More than ever I realize how much life changed with this God allowed life trauma experience. Yes, it’s okay to still shed a tear as reflecting back puts a lump in your throat. It’s in that moment someone else who is struggling realizes you understand life altering pain.

For me, I know I’m still learning, growing and feeling my way through each day. I no longer work for God. Instead, I choose to walk with God so He can work despite me. This fall taught me how to consistently humble myself before the Lord. To quit relying on my gut and truly put my trust in my God. While it might feel like I’m still falling apart each day. God has been picking me up and putting me back together daily.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

She Is Usually Right

What I’m about to say is not always the case. I do believe it’s the case for anyone married to an unselfish, unconditionally loving and very discerning women. This for sure describes the woman I’ve called my wife for nearly twenty three years. I may not always like or want to accept what she says about me. However, time has proven she is usually right.

You see, a good woman doesn’t just point out facts to hurt you. She has been given the ability to see through bologna and register danger. She has observed not only your actions, but your attitude. She has not just heard your words, but seen firsthand your consistent habits. She knows your strengths and your weaknesses. I wholeheartedly believe God handcrafted her to be both your perfect helpmate, compliment, encourager and humbler.

I must admit that the first half of my marriage I didn’t realize the wisdom I was married to. Thank God my wife stuck around for me to grow up and wise up. Now, I can’t imagine not asking my wife for her honest opinions. Whatever she says about me is most likely true. Whatever she warns me about should most likely be taken to heart.

Why? Because outside of God no one sees more and knows more about the real me. Not just the person outside the home, but inside. Fellows let me encourage you strongly to not ignore the honesty of your spouse. Because if she is anything like my wife her perception of you is typically right whether you want to accept the truth or not.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18

Finding New Level Strength

This week has felt like nothing but a blur of pain. I’ve spent day and night laying down as still as possible. Yet, I was still able to get much done with God’s help. I had to stay determined and focused to make any progress. Whether that meant working on my side or crawling to the next God-given assignment.

I’ve finally learned how to operate in a new gear. I’ve spent countless hours counseling people while lying on my side. I’ve put together ministry plans and connected with leaders all while being totally down myself. However, this evening was the first time I ever did all my Sunday message notes while soaking in a tub or lying on my side.

Honestly, I’ve really had no choice with my limitations. I just had to keep asking God to lead my heart and give me enough strength. It took the last 7 hours straight typing with one finger to finish up my Sunday sermon notes. I can promise you every word is God ordained.

All I did was keep doing all I could while asking God to do all I could not. I can promise you it was really hard to fight my medications fog, body pains, and the fact it took until 3am for me to finish. But, to God be the glory it is all finished. I do not take lightly the opportunities God has given me. I will always strive to give my best.

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31

The Road To Total Wellness

I can’t put into words how much today’s medical massage helped reduce my pain level. The lady that worked on me definitely specializes in unique cases like me. In just 30 minutes she reduced the pain near my injection site by fifty percent or more. I can now stand or walk without blinding pain. I’ve been beyond overjoyed ever since.

The crazy thing is I was hurting so bad that I was going to cancel this appointment. I knew there was no way the areas of pain could be helped right now. Nothing but rest and time would heal a thing. But, the rest of my body was so bound up from laying in bed since Monday. The therapist led by God delivered me so much relief.

I’m a big believer that some people are hired and others are called and gifted to do things. This lady was called, anointed and operating with clear vision. She registered the areas in bondage and freed every muscle she could. Before I got off the table I knew God had worked a miracle through her.

I’m now literally scheduled to see this therapist once a week for the next six months. This is something I must do if I’m going to reach my best new normal. I highly recommend Melinda at Total Wellness Medical Center in Summerville, SC. The great thing is they take most insurances. Four and half hours later I’m still feeling great and grateful.

But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17

Do What You Can

I’m committed to doing whatever I can to get healthier. I’m now getting a medical massage every week. I’m meeting with a nutritionist next week. I’m constantly drinking water and staying away from heavy amounts of caffeine or sugar. As soon as this shot brings me greater comfort I will start back my daily walking routine. Sadly it’s been over six months since I’ve been walking intentionally like before. I’m also back into reading God’s word more and praying specifically about things. I can feel it all working together.

I’m excited there are things I can do to improve my condition. I’ve found that my daily consistency of routine, diet, rest, exercise, mindset, prayer, bible reading, and respect of my condition always matter. You have to do your part while trusting God to always take care of you. Pray about it, process it, and keep making the necessary adjustments to deal with life’s challenges the best you can.

Yes, constant pain changes your life. No, you can’t do everything how you used to do it. But, don’t give up fighting for the best life you can have now. God will bless your persistent and purposeful efforts. Do what you can to improve your health physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually. God will prove His faithfulness.

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Praise Through The Pain

I went to bed aching and woke up aching. The pain is making me very nauseous. Thank God my meds helped me sleep through the night. However, my pain was certainly my first and loudest alarm clock. My throbbing injection sight woke me up bright and early.

Just to walk twelve feet to the bathroom was tough. Waiting on my pain to settle down as I lay as still as possible. This bed of suffering is far from pleasurable. I continue to find myself struggling more than usual to cope. I believe it’s just because I’ve not had such a physical constant pain in awhile.

Focusing on the praiseworthy is still my greatest escape. My greatest pain appears to be only associated to this shot. Eventually it’s going to let up. That area is going to cease to be so sore. I can soon carry on with a greater level of living.

I’m just two hours away from it being 72 hours since I got my trigger injections. They say the average person only hurts this bad for 3 days and may just be a little sore for up to two weeks. I’m still confident better days are to come. I’m just very miserable with how I feel now. Lord, help me through as you always do. Calm my pain and my every anxiety associated with that pain. Help me to remember that greater days of pain relief will come because of this present painful shot.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:4-8

Such Room To Grow

Not gonna lie about it. I’m pretty disappointed with my present pain level from this shot. I really thought I was ahead of things when I first woke up this morning. Now it’s constantly throbbing at the injection site. It’s only gotten progressively worse this afternoon and evening. Being a veteran of much greater pain I can’t believe how frustrated I’ve become.

Seems I easily forgot that these shots are always more painful than I expect. I know it was the best decision to get it. However, it looks like I’m going to have sit tight and rest more than I’m willing. To walk around at all takes my breath away. My legs feel so weak I guess just from such inflammation. Guess I’ll just keep living on ice.

It’s amazing how you think you’re on top of things. Then, the next thing you know life is on top of you. I can promise you I’ve certainly got a lot further to grow. In my faith, endurance, and for sure my patience. I can’t wait until my nighttime meds kick in. I’m certain I will feel completely different with some rest. I’ve not slept all day since waking up this morning at 8am. Praying for all who are battling and reading this right now.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

My Grace Is Sufficient

Things have not been easy today. It amazes me how one small area of my body can cause such issues. I’ve still got a major pain hangover from my recent shot. It hurts to stand, sit or walk around. I’m having to finally just lay down and hope to rest things off.

I’m continuing to ice the injection area every couple of hours. My tailbone pain has left my legs very weak. For four days straight I’ve drank at least half my body weight in water per day. That mixed with my stimulator running constantly has really made a difference in my overall nerve pain. Caffeine and sugar are definitely inflammatories that can’t be denied.

It’s only been two full days of recovery from this shot but my patience is running thin. There’s so much I need to get done. So many people calling for my help. Yet, my body keeps proving I’m just not able to deal with much. I especially can’t deal with any crisis intervention with the way my body is responding so far. It’s very hard to deal with the demands of being a pastor when I’m dealing with my own battles. Yet, somehow God keeps proving His grace is sufficient and strength is enough.

“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

No Pain, No Gain

Slept the best I have in days last night. After nearly 8 hours sleep I feel so much stronger overall. The injection site is still sore, but better than yesterday. I’m very confident more relief will come soon. This is the only type shot that has proven to work for me given time. It can take up to two weeks to be rid of all shot soreness and experience the fullest relief. The past has proven its well worth the wait.

I’m starting to see a theme in my life. Pain often precedes my biggest breakthroughs. Of course, it never feels good at the time. Yet, it’s benefits are constant. Seasons of pain give you greater perspective, purpose, perseverance and ultimately much greater peace. You learn to appreciate the all things more as you see things much differently.

God I thank you for the pain that leads to great gain in my life. For pain that makes me decrease so you can increase. For pain that teaches me to appreciate my health, family, and ministry opportunities. For pain that compels me to pray and meditate on your word. Oh the benefits of pain are endless when placed in Your hands.

“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Psalm 103:2

You Can’t Rush Healing

It’s been almost 34 hours since I got my trigger injections. Right now it feels like someone pulled a trigger and shot me multiple times. I’ve been laying in the bed constantly for the past 1 1/2 days. Still living on ice and trying to play my part as a good patient. However, there is a big difference between being a patient and having patience.

Of course, I don’t like to be limited by what I can’t do. However, every time I even walk a few steps the bed doesn’t sound so bad. As soon as I stand I’m quickly reminded why taking it easy is so important. So, here I am again heading to bed feeling like I’m trapped in my body. Yet, knowing that proper healing time will release me.

I’ve definitely learned in the past that you must respect your condition. You can’t ignore things that doctor’s have determined are very important for your health. No matter how determined you are the healing process still takes time. According to the law of averages I’m almost halfway done with the greatest soreness related to this shot. So, while I’m kicking and screaming within I’ve just got to continue to operate with great patience which will assist in my healing.

There is a ….”time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.” Ecclesiastes 3:3

Been Awake All Night

It’s been a long time since I’ve pulled an all nighter. This is why I never nap during the day. Usually I hurt way too much to sleep anyway. But, I spent all of yesterday in the bed after getting my pain shot. I also took medications to make that sleep possible.

My body has been aching all throughout the night. I’m sure the pre-numbing medicine has finally worn off. I continue to ice every couple hours. I’m very uncomfortable, but nothing like I’ve been before. These times remind me of a lot of rough nights in days gone by.

When you’ve been hurting so long you would think your patience grows. However, seconds feel like hours when your body keeps throbbing in pain. You do grow in perseverance and in knowing this too shall pass. I’ve experienced God putting me back on solid ground many times. I fully expect to feel better soon. Especially if I can get some much needed rest. Guess I’ve just got to accept this 72 hour period of expected mood swings.

(Psalm 145:14)The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

Peace Is Rising

Well, I just finally got like my 17th pain injection in just the past few years. While I know the drill by heart it always brings a little anxiety. It also brings with it much pain the next couple days to follow. Based on other experiences I believe this coccyx shot went smoothly. I will say that getting several trigger injections near your tailbone is nothing I recommend for fun.

After 3 hours at pain management my wife brought me back home around 1pm. I’ve been laying in the bed, sleeping, and icing around the clock. On top of this temporary discomfort I’m still recovering from yesterday’s total body meltdown. Gladly my body tells me I’m on the right track.

One, this time I’m following every rule in the book for my after shot recovery. Two, my stimulator has been able to run constantly the past 33 hours with no sign of any obvious issue. Three, as I keep drinking lots of water many toxins appear to be running out my body. I’ve had no major sugar or any caffeine. My body is easily vibrating 50 percent less than yesterday and I’m less nauseous. I’m really encouraged by the progress and knowing there is something I can do about the pain.

Last, but certainly not least my mind and heart are growing in peace. Resting comfortably on my side I’ve out smarted the devil with God’s help. I’ve been so frustrated for awhile because I can’t just sit up or study like I used to do. Now, I’m just doing all my studying of God’s word and even sermon prep on my phone.

I’ve learned how to type pretty fast with just one finger over the past few years. I’ve started a detailed study of the book of Job which I’ve done before. But, there is still so much God is speaking to my heart. Every word digested blesses me with great peace. Peace I feel in my heart, faith, and family.

Torture & Treasured Moments

This Sunday morning was by far one of the hardest days of my life. No, I’m not exaggerating one bit. I cried harder and more than I can ever remember in one day. Before I ever preached the first service I thought I cried out everything. Then, to begin the second service I knew there were plenty more tears to flow. All I could do was be totally transparent about my condition. Hoping I would be given grace by all in attendance.

I could barely focus on the next word or scripture. Everything within me just wanted to fly away. There was no denying that I was a nervous wreck fighting not to humiliate myself. My entire body was vibrating all morning despite having turned my spinal stimulator off early this morning. Two days of throbbing and having my stimulator off so much had taken its toll. Every second I was begging God to keep me out of His way and hold me together.

After the second service was over I couldn’t pretend any longer. My legs were totally giving way and the tears couldn’t be stopped. Myself and the worship team met together for prayer after services. I was the only one that just couldn’t stand or utter any prayer out loud. Brokenness mixed with desperateness filled each heart. Next thing I know I’m crying so deeply it’s taking my very breath away. I’m talking the most gut wrenching crying I’ve ever done even over the death of the closest loved one.

Shortly afterwards I felt some breakthrough. Like toxins that needed to be flushed was every tear that rolled down my cheeks. We knew satan was bringing the heat to us all. We knew we couldn’t fight this battle in the flesh. This called for bold and believing prayer that moves mountains. I’m not going to lie the battle was a living Hell.

I’ve spent two days straight not able to figure out how I’m being over stimulated. Even if I kept the unit off over five hours my body continued to vibrate from feet to face with severe neuropathy. The only thing I could discover is how I ate a bunch of marshmallows and graham crackers the past two nights. Sounds small, but I’ve discovered in the past that any significant intake of sugar or caffeine can create havoc with my condition. Add to this that on Sunday mornings alone I drink the equivalent of 4-5 small cups of coffee. I believe it was the ingredients for disaster.

So, after crying my eyes out I turned my stimulator back on. Then, I began drinking as much water as possible throughout the day. I’m sure I’ve drank 1 1/2 gallons hoping to flush what I can out my system. By God’s grace alone I’ve been able to endure Father’s Day. I felt more closeness and appreciation from my boys than in any years past.

Tomorrow morning I get my pain shot bright and early. I’m praying hard it gives me some relief of this coccyx pain. Also, I will be drinking nothing but lots of water for the next many days to come. Also, just as I ate literally no sweets today you can bet I won’t be doing so anytime soon. I will not forget this day of torture for quite awhile. It definitely matched my worst ever pain. And, I want forget the smiles that happened with my boys despite the earlier storm. Now, my body just desperately needs rest as my Fitbit says I only got two hours of actual sleep last night.

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Lord Use Mean

Been up since 3am which is not good with my condition. Got around 4 hours of sleep which is better than nothing. Laying on my side my spinal cord stimulator has me comfortable. And a heating pad has proven to be my latest best friend. So glad it’s summertime because the outside temperature doesn’t affect me greatly.

About to get up and do something I’ve not done in awhile. I’m gonna go eat breakfast at the Waffle House. Several years ago this was something I did practically every Sunday morning as I went over my sermon. Sadly I can’t sit anywhere like that too long anymore. Just don’t know how my back will respond.

But, I figure it’s worth a try for this creature of habit. Probably will eat the All Star Special. Drink a cup or two of coffee. Put the finishing touches on a God led message. Then, let go and trust God for an amazing day. Please keep me in your prayers and know I’m praying for you.

“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)(NLT)

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Not going to lie I’ve felt miserable most of the day. Had to keep my stimulator off more than five hours straight because my body would not stop vibrating. It never has stopped shaking me inside from my feet to my face. I had to turn the unit back on around 3 hours ago because the rest of me has just gotten so sore with it off.

Sadly, I have no idea why the vibration has continued after so long with it off. I’m running it on the absolute lowest setting I can for now. The longer it has gone on the more my anxiety has risen. Its been a long 12 ours of just waiting for my body to get back in rhythm.

The day before Sunday never helps my nerve pain when things get this complicated. I’ve just been taking things hour by hour trying to keep going. Took my youngest son to the park for an hour which he enjoyed. And, most important to me is that no one else’s day has been ruined by my pain today.

Despite my misery, I thank God. For helping me keep things mentally together. For a wife that gracefully cares for me. And for some extra meds that should ensure I at least get some sleep. It’s just a tough day and tomorrow could be entirely different. Especially if this stimulator can keep running and I get some quality rest.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

I’m Not Who I Was

When I hear those words they resonate as good and bad. Clearly, I’m not who I used to be physically speaking. I can’t handle but a small portion of what I used to be able to do. However, daily God is radically changing my heart and perspective for the better. If I’ve learned anything it’s that life is certainly not all about me.

For the past 1360 days God has been stripping down the man I used to be. Letting me know that life can go on without me. He just chooses to use me any way He pleases. Letting me know that being a pastor is not about me doing all the work. Instead, it’s about raising up an army of believers that are serious about God’s work. God has shown me that deep pain is a purposeful gift. One that’s not easy to swallow, but clearly a platform for God’s glory to be revealed.

Now, I believe I’m past the deepest grieving season of swallowing my new normal. For sure this spiritual and physical makeover has been tough. Yet, there is no denying God has my full attention more than ever before. I know more how to depend on God instead of just referencing Him. I truly know apart from Jesus I’m nothing and can do nothing.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, 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)

Desperate To Meet You

There used to be a time when I could easily just step away to meet with God. I would just head out my house and find some quiet place to hear God’s voice. There was no distance I wasn’t willing to drive. No sacrifice I was not willing to make early or late to just give God my undivided attention. Now, I’m fighting to come up with a new approach to remove distractions. However, it’s not because I’m not willing to do whatever it takes.

Sadly, my nerve wrecked body won’t allow me to just get in the car and drive any distance. I could do so, but I would be consumed with double my pain once I reached my destination. There’s hardly any place I can sit inside or outside my house with great comfort. Not long ago, we bought new furniture with my back issues in mind. Even still, I fight constantly to find a seating position that allows me to not just feel constant discomfort. Even my spinal cord stimulator that helps with my nerve condition fails me often. Even as I write this I’ve had to shut it off due to over stimulation.

Fortunately, God knows my heart, thoughts and every desire. I know satan will do everything he can to distract and discourage me. I’m not going to stop running towards God. I will keep seeking to remove every hindrance. From taking walks, rising early, using special chairs, staying in the tub, laying on heating pads, to seizing every moment of clarity I can find. I even limit my time on social media, interaction with others, and put my phone on silence several times throughout the day. Bottom line is I’ve got to do whatever it takes because nothing matters more than hearing God’s voice and seeking God’s will. I’m desperate for His presence, His peace, and His direction.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2)

Dealing With Chronic Pain

In your head it’s just hurting right now. It will get better soon you say to yourself. However, it’s been like this many days for a long time. You want to think it’s just a season. When really it’s a major pain part of your life for a reason.

Laying endless hours in your bed gives you lots of time to think. Sometimes that’s good and often that’s bad. It’s good to process things and digest your reality. It’s hard to ignore your pain and deny your painful reality that never stops. That’s why they call it chronic.

Your pain may be mild, moderate, to severe. However, unless you’re totally out of it you rarely can say it’s nonexistent. Trust me I know all about chronic pain because I live with it. I wake up feeling crippled by it. I live life being hindered by it. I go to bed extremely bothered by it.

For me, I’ve had to just trust God with its purpose. I keep doing everything I can to not wallow in my pain, but work through it. Of course, during the severe times it just works on you. Sometimes all you can do is say you’re holding on to the hand of Jesus. Most comforting is simply knowing He is holding on to you.

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Tonight marked the beginning of something God had in mine before I was ever born. After a few long years of pain and processing it was time. God made the weather perfect. Several days of rain mixed with partly cloudy skies created a cool breeze. Underneath that gazebo were those battling chronic pain, illness, and autoimmune diseases.

Each of us shared what brought us there together. With each word spoken we discovered no one was walking alone. We all represented those with high mileage down rough roads. Discussed were accidents and diseases that took us all by surprise at one time. How after surgeries, medications, treatments and countless days of anxiety we were finally out of denial. Therefore, we are learning how to live our best now while embracing our new normal.

This monthly support group will meet every third Thursday 6:30pm at the Colleton Medical Walking Park. It will be a safe place for people to process their pain. It will be an encouraging place for those who need to find hope. We will address how pain affects someone physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and for sure spiritually. We will also look at how with God’s help we can overcome these challenges.

Tonight I go to bed with peace in my heart. Knowing I’ve taken this first step of obedience to God. He simply called me to bring together others who need compassion, understanding, and encouragement in their darkest moments. We will each be comforted by one another. We will each make sure others have a place of comfort when they need it most.

“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.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Battle Is Calming

My heart has finally settling down some. For awhile I thought it might jump out my chest. I simply have no idea why this unit is randomly doing this to me all of sudden. It’s done so well for so long. I’ve learned so much about how to best use it. Now I’m just at a wait and see point.

Finally, I turned my stimulator back on. It will only be on for 30 seconds per hour. Where as before it was set to come on for 30 seconds every 15 minutes. Right now everything I’m having to do with this man made device is far from common. I’m on an island that even my adjustment technicians have no experience of doing things this way. I told them I’ve always been abnormal.

I’m back out of the tub for the second time tonight. Having to just lay on my side and be still as possible. Keeping constant heat on the tailbone area. The countless tears I shed were like releasing toxins. I feel like someone after they’ve thrown up everything possible.

I’m heading to bed so thankful for a wife that tucks me in gently nightly. She holds my hand and just assures me we’re in this journey together. Her very presence pipelines God’s very peace to my soul. I keep letting her know this is not over by any means. We’re just in another season of great spiritual war. Goodnight!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Why I Write IN The Pain

Over the past few years I’ve actually had several people say “all you do is talk about your pain.” As I told a told a very dear senior citizen lady a long time ago “that’s because I’m always in pain.” Truth is I started my faith walking page so I could continue to process my pain out loud. I realize not everyone wants to hear about my painful journey. Anyone that can’t stand to hear about it is welcomed to unfollow this page any time.

Now, the truth is I don’t always just talk about my pain. I do purposely choose to write while I’m in the midst of the heaviest pain. Why? Because it’s when I’m most in tuned to my humanity. Why? Because it’s when I can most identify with other people’s pain. Why? Because I refuse to waste this agony that I know God has allowed for greater purpose.

Truth is this page wouldn’t even exist if not for my pain. Without the pain I wouldn’t feel the least compelled to write. I write because my pain has birthed a depth of compassion I can’t explain. My pain has forced a level of God reliance that before simply wasn’t possible. So, I write in the pain because I must learn how to praise Jesus even in the midst of the pain. I pray somehow that you won’t just see my pain, but see the God who proves His faithfulness despite my nonstop pain.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12-13

Jesus Wept

My body will not quit vibrating so I’ve had to take an emergency Valium. It’s been continuous even an 1 1/2 hours after shutting off my stimulator. It really stinks in every way. I know it will pass eventually, but it’s got me rattled to my very core once more. I’m being shaken constantly inside like I’m on a bad fair ride that just won’t stop.

When I tell you I never saw this coming that’s an understatement. Satan is trying to make me do more than just throw up. He wants me to feel like I’ve made no progress. He wants me to just give up trying. He wants me to be discouraged, depressed, and destroyed. Sorry satan but I know your tricks all too well.

Tears are rolling down my face once more like they haven’t done since last Thursday. I’m heartbroken, but more just disappointed. Usually this just means I’m overdue for another good cry. After all, God did create every tear that falls from our eyes. If Jesus wept I do believe we have permission to express these heartfelt emotions as well.

“Jesus Wept.” John 11:35

Such A Roller Coaster

Every night lately I’ve been reminded just why God is leading me to do this Chronic Pain support group. I understand this roller coaster called pain. I know what it feels like to feel so hopeful one minute and hopeless the next. To feel somewhat normal one second and then on the verge of insanity the next.

Right this very moment my entire body is vibrating from my spinal cord stimulator. Unfortunately, I’ve had to turn it totally off once again. The feeling of electricity throughout my body is crazy. I couldn’t bare to even hear my dog drink water out of her dish. With every slurp my body felt on fire as pulses ran from my feet to face. I can’t bare someone to even walk anywhere in the house. I don’t even have a shot at sitting comfortably right now.

If I hadn’t experienced this so many times I wouldn’t believe it. In fact, I would think you were crazy if you made up such stuff. I just spent 3 hours straight in the bathtub for relief. Now, it appears I’m headed right back there. Inside, my tolerance and patience level is wearing thin. However, I know that no amount of kicking and screaming will change a thing. Thank God I do know eventually my nighttime meds will kick in.

How could this be happening to me is still a frequent thought? Why did this happen is not a question that runs very often through my mind. I know God wants to use this pain as a platform. I know I’ve got to help the countless others who are barely holding on to their sanity due to their roller coaster pain. I hate the way I feel, but I love the purpose of the pain.

As my heart continues to race one more time. As my blood pressure seems to sore. As my body continues to vibrate. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I do plan to see what God can do with it.

I’ve been planning for over two years for this Thursday night’s support group. God has had me in boot camp for severe pain management the past three years and nine months. I’m very clear on the vision God has given me for this group. Anyone attending won’t be disappointed if they can identify with these roller coaster emotions. You will leave encouraged.

Hoping To Say “Goodbye Donut”

After a couple weeks of dealing with this tailbone (coccyx) pain there’s light in front of me. Got a call from pain management that I will be given a shot this coming Monday at 8:30am. After having things rejected by insurance this past Monday there was no way this could be approved anytime soon. That’s when God stepped in and changed things. I told them I would show up at 4am if they were available. God has heard our prayers and I believe much relief is to come.

This phone came at the same time my stimulator started over stimulating me. Thank God I was able to turn it to a lower dose setting that has calmed my nerves back down. The good news of this shot has soothed my heart and mind. I’ve been sitting a lot on an inflatable donut to bear with this (coccyx) Pain. It’s a little embarrassing, but the alternative pain helps you get over any pride.

If you’re suffering from severe pain at the base of your spine, a coccygeal nerve block could help. A coccygeal nerve block is a minimally invasive treatment approach for chronic pain in the lower back, specifically in the tailbone area. This area is also known as the coccyx. I would also highly recommend using this pink heavy duty donut for some sitting relief. It says on the box “for coccyx injuries.” It’s very easy to inflate and deflate. Holds up to 300 pounds.

“I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” Psalm 120:1

Remembering Your Faithfulness

Lord I’m doing my best to listen for your voice. In the midst of the madness I know you’re at work. You’re calling loudly for my attention. You’re telling me to “be still and know that you are God.” You’re asking me to give up the fight and let you fight for me.

The pain is still blinding at times. The struggle inside is still so strong. Prayer and meditation don’t come easy. Fear of what the future might hold keeps running through my mind. Not seeing things drastically change makes it hard to believe at times.

Yet, I can count my present blessings all day long. I look back and see your faithfulness through all my years. I know worry changes nothing and prayer changes everything. Never have you led me astray before. So, I choose to trust you fully now. Lead me through the pain towards your greater purpose. Do it all for your glory. Exactly as it in Heaven above

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

WANTED: Those In Great Pain

Those who battle chronic pain are my tribe. I deeply understand your frustrations, heartaches and fears. The past few years of my life have felt like a nightmare after a major accident drastically changed my life. In fact, apart from my faith and support system there’s no telling where my life could be headed.

I’ve survived the shock that doctor’s say my nerve damage throughout my body is permanent. Over 700 pages of medicals full of scans, evaluations, rehab, shots, surgeries, medicines and a spinal cord stimulator prove there’s nothing more man can do. I’ve spent countless hours grieving my new normal. The guilt of how my pain affects others can’t be measured. I’ve begged God for total healing. I’ve got my hopes up many times only to be very let down.

However, all is not lost in this bed of constant discomfort. God revealed very early on this pain has great purpose. One, it’s being used to grow and develop me. Two, it’s being used to encourage others who feel hopeless and miserable. I’m happy to tell you encouragement and hope are headed to Walterboro, SC. We all need some “Jesus with skin.”

Every 3rd Thursday 6pm at Refuge Church (203 Eddie Chasteen Dr) you will find support. Whether you battle major chronic pain, chronic illness or some autoimmune disease. This is a place just for you. You won’t be judged, nor will your struggle be belittled. It will simply be a safe place to share your pain and be encouraged by others who truly understand ongoing pain.

I know it will be a mutual time of encouragement for all of us. You will find Christlike Compassion, Accountability, Relationships, & Encouragement that will help elevate your faith despite your struggles. I pray you join us if you can as we will meet together once a month.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 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 1:3-4

Email me at scraigcrosby@gmail.com if you have any further questions.

It Ain’t Nothing But A Tailbone

Earlier I spent a long time on the phone with my current pain specialist office. You know the ones that could make me go crazy any minute. It won’t be until July until I can see my new pain management doctor. Until then I’ve got to do all I can get this much needed injection approved. Insurance has denied my request but it’s only because this office has not requested things properly. So, here it is being requested again leaving another week to wait and see.

Therefore, I have another week of asking God to give me patience. This tailbone pain has been constantly throbbing all day long. Keeping me very uncomfortable and making it very hard to stay focused. I’m doing everything I can from hours in the tub, laying on my side, and only necessary medications. I’ve been in these tough waiting seasons before so I know it won’t last forever.

I’m telling you if this lowest spine nerve pain was just cut in half I would be on cloud nine. My stimulator is doing a great job. Isn’t it amazing how just one small part of your body can hinder the rest. All this is just reminding me how important this week’s upcoming chronic pain support group will be for those struggling.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” Hebrews 3:13

Waiting With Expectancy

Today was another God made day. I woke up early feeling as strong I can remember in awhile. I was energized to preach God’s word to two full services of worshippers. The first service I preached standing up for the first time in over six months. I just felt as close to normal as I’ve known in a long time. Shortly after the early service reality hit.

Suddenly, I was reminded that my body is still broken. So, I had to sit down to preach the next service. Apart from my legs feeling heavy I still felt so blessed. My spinal cord stimulator has been nothing short of wonderful. It’s covering all of my pain in my lower back surgical area and keeping my nerves under control.

All that’s left is this aching coccyx or tailbone pain. I’m dealing with constant throbbing sitting or standing any time. I’m certainly praying I get approval for another shot this week. This tailbone pain is enough to keep me on edge. But, I’m not anything compared to recent days. Often you have to experience great struggles to appreciate just a normal, uneventful day. Hopefully my stimulator continues to show such consistency as I wait for God to schedule me this pain shot.

“But those who wait for 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

God Is So So Good

Today has been nothing short of a God made day. From the great night sleep God allowed. To waking up feeling stronger than I have in well over a week. Two days ago I wondered if I could even attend my son’s graduation. Yesterday I went to bed just hoping I could endure the long day ahead and possibly smile.

God took things way further than I could ever imagine. Outside of being extremely uncomfortable sitting in the gymnasium bleachers I literally smiled all day. I was able to focus on my son and not just my pain. I was able to proudly enjoy watching him receive his high school diploma. I thought the entire graduation ceremony was one of the best I’ve ever attended.

After 2 1/2 hours of graduation I rushed home to get in the bathtub for relief. Two hours later I was headed out for Joel’s graduation party. It was a wonderful time with family and friends. I sincerely enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve now spent the entire evening in the tub, but I’m doing absolutely wonderful.

Yesterday’s drastic spinal cord stimulator adjustment has been working amazing and I pray it continues. But, there’s no way God didn’t have the most to do with this God made day. Thanks for every prayer uttered on my behalf.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20)

Depleted and Hopeful

Well, there’s no denying how much my stimulator helps me overall. This time it was off for fifteen hours before they switched it back on. Not having it on has practically drained everything out of me. My entire body head to toe just feels depleted of all strength, pain relief and energy. When I got off the medical table earlier it took everything I had just to walk to my car.

However, I’m hopeful that will change with this spinal stimulator adjustment. First, it takes time for the pain relief in my nerves to return back to normal due to the unit being off so long. It’s something that has to build up over a few day period and even up to two weeks. In order to not be easily over stimulated again they’ve drastically reduced the time the unit will actually be running inside me. For example instead of it running every 8 minutes for 30 seconds it will now run for 30 seconds every 15 minutes.

They’ve also put new settings on my controller where I can increase that gap even more. Letting it just turn on every 30 minutes, 45 minutes or only every hour is now possible. So, I’m hopeful time will show me the best setting.

The biggest thing is it can be adjusted and I can keep using it. I can’t have much quality of life without it so its critical we get this stimulation back in rhythm. I have a strong peace about where this is headed. It’s just for now I feel like a car on the side of the road that is totally out of gas. But, with rest and this stimulation things can change quickly. In fact, I’m believing God they will change.

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Prayer Changes Things

My body never hurt any worse than it did last night. I went to bed barely able to move. My wife had to help me to bed like I had just had major surgery. The tears rolled without my permission. All I could do was keep silently saying “Lord please give me a break from this agony.”

I had no choice but to ask everyone for prayer. I also reached out to some prayer warriors from my church. Their prayers came through to me via text messages. My parents assured me they were on their knees. There were no signs of the strong medications I had taken allowing me to rest. I knew my body was beat up and exhausted like someone who had been beaten to a pulp.

I barely slept a second over 6 hours any given night the past five nights. Finally, last night according to my Fitbit I drifted out a little past midnight. I literally slept nearly 8 hours straight without waking up for any reason. While I’m still very sore I’m nothing like I was last night. And that’s with having my spinal cord stimulator off for the past 12 hours straight. I literally had to check myself to believe it.

I still feel strong vibrations in both legs and feet. I’m still extremely sensitive to sudden sounds or movement. However, I’m sitting here much calmer. Praying now that at 11am my technician can figure out why my stimulator is not working like normal. Thanks for all your prayers!

“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 Know I’m A Pastor But….

This is my 11th blog post in just 4 days. That usually only means one thing. It’s been a very painful week. The good moments I can easily count on one hand. I’ve tried my absolute best to keep my composure and keep the faith. Yet, pain of this magnitude breaks you down in every way imaginable. This is by far the worst I’ve felt in almost a year.

The medications I’ve taken are starting to kick in and calm me. But, I’m not okay at all with my situation. I’ve given every ounce of my being towards getting better. I know without a doubt that I’ve made huge improvements. However, my heart hurts so much. Not just for myself, but how much this affects other people.

My wife doesn’t deserve this life sentence. My kids shouldn’t have to watch their day suffer so much. My church needs someone there for them. Not them having to worry about me. It just stinks and in many ways shatters my dreams. I know God is using the pain, but it’s just such a painful process. A process I trust God with as my heart bleeds daily.

Please forgive my honesty and don’t doubt my faith. I’m just letting you know that it doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor or the president. Without Jesus this life is just too much. I’ve been in over my head in sorrow, grief, and pain for awhile. I just know I’m not in this boat alone. Jesus is still there. If not I would have long ago been drowning myself in whatever drugs I could get my hands on. Goodnight!

“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

God I Need Relief

I feel like nobody understands me. My body stills feels like it’s on fire inside. Add on top of that aching flu like symptoms. Add to that every fiber of my lower back, tailbone, hips and legs throbbing with pain. Having to shut this unit off so long has taken a huge toll on my body. Trying to turn it back on earlier for a few hours is still costing me.

You’re talking about something that works in tandem with my entire nervous system. Somehow it’s been regulating things to make me feel normal many days in the past. Suddenly it’s now causing me additional pain. Not to mention it’s allowing all my old pain to come flooding back. It’s like I’ve been in a new accident I can’t recall.

Right now I feel so chemically imbalanced. I can’t handle even a basic conversation. I can’t just walk around without much severe pain. I can hardly take a breath that doesn’t feel like a chore. While my wife has observed similar behavior many times I know she can’t even fathom what’s actually going on inside of me.

The truth is I can’t even make sense of it all. I just feel it and know it’s not in my imagination. The nerve wreckage within me right now just feels like a tidal wave. All I can do once again is wait on relief. I wish to God I had more answers than I do. My blood pressure feels sky high so I will actually check that right now.

“Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.” Psalm 6:2

Chased By A Lion

Let’s see where do I begin with this one. Most of you know that I’ve had to turn my stimulator off at least six times this week alone. I’ve never turned it off more than once any week over the last two years. Yet, it continues to fry me from within and had to be shut off. Typically they suggest you flip it off for one more than 2-3 hours then turn it back on.

Well, last night it got so bad I turned it off for much longer. In fact, I kept it off for nearly 18 hours. Then, around 3pm today I suddenly got very nauseous. Also, I could tell my pain was flooding back into my legs and lower back. Less than 3 hours later I was being over stimulated again. My legs and feet are still constantly vibrating from the device. I knew I had to turn it off again and pray I could get this thing adjusted as soon as possible.

I reached out to my stimulator technician who stays very busy. I begged for her to see if she could get anyone to meet me tomorrow for an adjustment in Charleston. I told her one of my boys graduates from High School Saturday morning and I’m praying I don’t ruin his day. Thank God she gave me a last minute appointment for 11am tomorrow. Please join me in praying she can adjust this thing so I can keep my nerve pain under control. Until then it will have to stay off and I will be a little more uncomfortable than I prefer. It’s been quite a week on this three ring circus. The devil is looking for every way he can to take me down.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

When The Pain Won’t End

Pain never comes at a welcoming time. It interrupts your life when you least expect it. Severe pain demands your respect and must be addressed. There’s certainly no need to mask it when others can see it pouring out of you. It has certainly knocked down my walls of pride many times. .

Now, I’m a veteran patient and I seek to learn everything I can about my condition daily. However, I’m still a very fragile child of God when things get this bad. I’m desperately looking for light at the end of this tunnel. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been at this point before.Once again, I’m desperate for divine intervention.

Only God knows His reasons for allowing this suffering. Only God knows how I’m going to make it from one day to the next. Only God holds me together and helps me through such blurry valleys. I can hardly see through the windshield, but I’m believing God can see beyond it all. I have no confidence in what I can do. I’m just trusting fully in what only God can do.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…..” Psalm 46:10

The Battle Is Constant

Sunday’s message must be something amazing. I’m sitting here seeking to let God feed me His life changing word. I’m literally blinded by the nonstop misery in my body. Instead of things decreasing the past 1 1/2 hours my misery has escalated. It’s frightening, miserable and intolerable wrapped all together. My greatest hope is for my night time meds to put me to sleep very soon.

I literally feel like I can’t move myself. Anything said or done around me keeps triggering me into orbit. Writing this somehow gives me a little calm. I’m just hoping for God to use my misery for something more and than my misery. While I desperately need prayer I’m not looking for pity.

This is just my life right now. Thinking about is very draining. Dealing with it feels impossible much of the time. Somehow God holds me together and gives me reason to hope forward. I know without the struggle I’m not writing. I know without the struggle I have no understanding, comfort and compassion for others. I hate beyond words this torture, but I long for God’s will over my very comfort. I’m tempted daily to give up this fight, but somehow God keeps me going.

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41

I Don’t Know What To Pray

I absolutely hate it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve now had to turn off my spinal stimulator completely for the second time today. Being over stimulated is like putting me in an electric chair. It makes me feel terrible and like I’m going crazy. Focusing is impossible and everything puts me on edge.

There’s no denying the stimulator is the source of my present greatest issues. Usually about an hour after turning it off I’m no longer vibrating continuously. I can’t believe the very thing I need for pain relief is bringing me additional crazy discomfort. However, shutting it off concerns me greatly. Seriously, the last time I shut the unit off for an entire day it turned me into just a puddle of emotion. I started crying uncontrollably at my counselor’s office.

All I can do is wait and see what happens. I have no doubt that if I choose to leave it off all night I will barely be able to move in the morning. Pain I forgot even existed will come rushing back. Yet, if I don’t leave it off for several hours I will go crazy from it’s over stimulating pulses. I have no idea what’s going on right now as I’ve tried everything I know. I know it’s a man made device, but this man relies heavily on this stimulator working properly. Please keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine.

“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

Lightening Strikes Again

Turned my spinal stimulator off for the second time today. There’s no doubting that I’ve been very over stimulated. Electrical pulses have been running throughout my body. Any sound or movement around me can trigger me to feelings of insanity. It’s like I’ve swallowed a metal detector and metal is everywhere.

I know it sounds crazy to anyone else. But, here are a few things that have made my nervous system go haywire. My wife closing up a bag of chips shot electrical waves instantly from my feet to my face. My dog or a family member just walking by me sends me into orbit. Believe or not, the vibration of my own voice can make my entire nervous system light up in agony within seconds.

While I’m not panicking I have no idea how to fix this current problem. I desperately need that stimulator for any quality of life. However, the over stimulation sucks all the life out of me. I’ve got to get this unit back on track. I can’t afford to leave it off too long. It doesn’t take long to lose the pain relief that took a couple weeks to build. All I can do is keep trusting God with every step of this painful journey.

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1

God Is Restoring Me

Been a long day in the Crosby household. Life just hasn’t slowed down the past several days. I’m still having to use my cane due to leg weakness and major tailbone pain. Hoping I hear within a week that my requested pain shot is approved. Just in a wait and see over several key things in my life.

Today has been much easier than yesterday. Turning my stimulator off yesterday for about 5-6 hours total did take the throbbing pain out of my legs. Now, my legs just feel weak and in desperate need of rest. Having my stimulator off for so long did deplete my pain relief in other areas. I woke up with the lower nerves in my spine throbbing anytime I stand or sit firmly.

Overall, I’m way more encouraged by my relief. God is giving me what I need when I need it most. His hands of faithfulness keep covering me with great favor. Many things are coming together at once. I truly believe God is in the midst of putting my life back together and restoring my fortunes. There will be new challenges along with new opportunities as God leads me into a new season. I continue trusting God while allowing Him to guide my every step.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

Remember When

Most of you remember the day you heard the news. When the doctor came in and told you something you weren’t ready to receive. You immediately put up every defense mechanism possible. Then, you walked out that doctor’s office very much in shock. That life changing visit would then be followed by endless days of denial.

I still recall when one highly respected doctor told me the cold hard truth. He said, “you need to understand this nerve damage is permanent. You will deal with this the rest of your life. I don’t care what any other doctor ever tells you. It’s obvious from the MRI and your body’s response to surgery and treatments. This is here to stay.”

I’m sure I just sat there with my mouth wide open. It was such a dark and enlightening moment. Yet, it was what I needed to hear so I could begin to process my new reality. I needed to recognize what man couldn’t do versus what only God can do. I’ve been trying to walk by total faith ever since. I’ve not given up hope things can change. I’ve just transferred all my hope in the only One that never changes.

 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

I Would Rather Just Pray

Oh how much easier it is to pray for someone else struggling than to go through certain things yourself. Actually it’s easier to have faith for others than to trust God with yourself. I would much rather stay by the bedside of someone. Than to be in the bedside hurting one day myself. Not that I wish anything on anyone. Suffering is just not something any of us welcome.

All day the wind has been knocked out of my sails. Somehow God allows me to put my mind over matter why I preach. Today I truly had no choice but to stay seated. With every word prayers were uttered. The entire time I’m thinking any minute I’m going to collapse. I can’t tell you how many Sundays God has spared me from being publicly humiliated.

Yet, this was a cross I needed to bear. It’s teaching me what you can’t learn in books or just by watching others struggle. Most people think they’ve experienced brokenness until they truly encounter a season of suffering themselves. I still feel God at work every second. I still hate how I feel about every other minute. So, just as I would tell anyone else I must remind myself. It’s not about my will, but His will that truly matters.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Like 22:42

Shaking My Head

It’s been a rough, painful day since I woke up at 6am. I thought my legs hurt badly last night. However, when I woke up today I could barely drag them even while using my cane. I only slept a few hours. So I knew today would be tough. I have had a busy few days compared to my normal. However, I’ve been seeking to respect my condition every step of the way.

You would think someone has stripped all the muscles out both legs. That if my legs worked off hydraulic fluid that there must be no fluid left. All I know is I’m in shock of how little strength I have in my lower body. Clearly, my legs have not hurt this bad in over six months. I certainly didn’t see this coming.

I’m in shock over how little strength remains in my legs. I’ve now had to turn my spinal cord stimulator off for the second time today. The constant vibrations in my legs and feet let me know I’m being over stimulated. This is the only explanation for the drastic change in me not being able to hardly walk. Plus, the fact I feel very nauseous and way overdue for a cry is usually a sign of over stimulation.

Hard to believe all this spinal stimulator is able to mask. Or that God has just been holding me together all this time. Guess I keep forgetting I’ve just been comforted not cured. Every time I think I’ve experienced it all I’m humbled once again. Just trying to get up and around takes my breath away. Now my heart just pounds as I feel like a prisoner in my own body. God willing my meds will take me out early tonight. However, this constant throbbing in my lower body will have to stop if sleep is to even become an option.

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7

To Whom It May Concern

I’m sharing this now before my nerves change my mind. Many have seen my constant struggle firsthand. The fact that a major slip and fall turned my life completely upside down. Leaving me with permanent nerve damage throughout my lower body. This has totally exposed my humanity. It’s made me feel very low and less of a man the past 4 years.

Now, we all know that we can’t control everything that happens to us. All we can do is determine our response. For me, I had to let my walls completely down. I had to acknowledge my fears as I walk by faith. I’ve had to admit my anxiety has been off the chain on many occasions. There’s no denying that I’m still trying to swallow my new normal of always feeling broken.

Here’s the part I need you to know. Six years ago, God led me to start Refuge Church of Walterboro. A place where anyone can truly be met where they are, loved where they are and never leave the same. Countless souls have experienced this mission for themselves. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of this mission for others.

Little did I know that I would need this same family of believers. People who choose to love me despite my brokenness. People that grant me unlimited grace and choose to love me in my darkest times. Little did I know I would need a genuine place of “Refuge” for myself and family. I know I would not be where I am without this church family in my life.

So let me tell you this from firsthand experience. If you find yourself in a tough, indescribable season. And, you represent the seventy five percent that don’t attend church regularly. Consider yourself invited and please come visit Refuge Church. You are guaranteed to feel much love and leave encouraged. You are certain to find a place of grace and incredible love. Trust me, I would know because my life has been deeply touched even after I let them see how much I struggle.

Sincerely,

Pastor Craig Crosby

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

My Legs Are Gone

Right now my legs are out from under me. Never are they feeling great. But, they are miles from great right now. I’ve had to use my cane most of the day in order to take pressure off my lower body. Saying my legs even feel more than 25 percent of full strength would be very sketchy.

Fortunately, it’s not something I’ve not dealt with before. So, past experience really helps with knowing how to cope. Each leg feels like they are full of cement. This discomfort knocks the wind out of my sails. There is no denying it threatens my feelings of confidence and joy.

It makes everything so difficult. Having to even use my cane at just 44 feels very humiliating. However, I have to swallow my pride and do whatever is necessary to move forward. Thank God I can sit down to preach back to back services tomorrow. I know the devil intends for these attacks to knock me down. Yet, I will leverage my brokenness so I can be sure to lift Christ up.

“Christ must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

Only Half That Man

In my heart and mind I’m stronger than ever. However, my body feels so weak. I’m still in the process of accepting my new limitations. In many respects my new identity is still tough to embrace. Unfortunately, I really have no other choice than to swallow my new reality.

I would say I’m beyond the shocked stage. In fact, I’ve already passed the eye of this grieving season. Even still it just takes a long time to fully let go of the good old days. Back when I could sit, stand or walk without pain. Back when I could do way more physically than I can ever do now.

I lay here nightly with so many on my heart and mind. With so many things left undone that I used to always do for others. Instead, all I can do is hope others grant me the grace I will always grant them. All I can do is hope God continues to lavish me with His amazing grace. Daily I still give all I’ve got to give towards doing God’s will. I’m just grateful God still loves me when I’m only half the man I used to be.

“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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I Had Hoped By Now

There’s been so many times I thought my worse painful days were behind me. Call it wishful thinking or just pure optimism. I always chose to believe my glass is half full, not empty. In fact, I believe I’m blessed beyond measure even now. I just wish this nagging, nauseating, life altering nerve pain would go away already. At least, I really hoped by now that would be the case.

It’s gotten back to running from my feet into my face. Feels like someone hooked an IV of steady discomfort up to me. And, there’s nothing I can do to keep it from pouring throughout my veins. When it reaches this level it destroys my mood, steals my ability to focus and makes it impossible to enjoy even a moment. Even still my day overall has been bearable.

Tomorrow my wife is taking me to my pain specialist. Please pray that God opens the door for me to get a much needed shot soon. I would count myself very blessed if a shot was scheduled and approved within two weeks or less. I know I can’t ignore this pain that has once again forced its way into my life. I’m going to bed another night having to trust God to hold me and help me through another seemingly uncertain season. I am certain He will not let me go or let me down.

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in time of need.” Psalm 46:1

Somehow I’m Walking On Water

As I get ready for bed my heart overflows with peace. Somehow today has felt the total opposite of the past few days. My pain is bearable and my anxiety is nowhere to be found. Of course, I have to always respect my condition. What a difference God can make in just a day. His power is limitless and His mercies are new every morning.

Honestly, the peace I have makes absolutely no sense. It’s not like I’ve been released of this struggle. However, I’m not fighting with it anymore. Somehow the joy of God’s purpose is overriding the pain. I feel God holding my heart even while He has not chosen to calm the storm.

All I’ve done is surrender it all to God. All I’m doing is continually asking God to use everything past, present and future for His glory. I feel in control of absolutely nothing. Yet, I know in my heart God remains in control. He’s calling me to keep my eyes on Him so I can walk on water. This is not the end of the story. Instead it’s the beginning of God doing something amazing that only be accomplished by relentless faith.

“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!* ”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong* wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.” Matthew 14:24-33

The Lift I Needed

The past two days have been extremely tough. In fact, today I had to use my walking stick for the first time in six months. My legs have just gotten so weak due to this radiating tailbone pain. Yet, today God provided just the lift I needed. Obviously, laying in the bed constantly was just taking me down physically, mentally and emotionally.

I would’ve stayed in the bed all day based on the little sleep I got last night. Thank God I had a noon day meeting already scheduled at the church. I followed that up with a hospital visit to see an elderly lady who experienced a bad fall early this morning. I know what you’re thinking “why is someone barely able to walk visiting someone else in the hospital. Trust me it was a blessing in disguise.

God lifted my spirit by giving me a purposeful assignment. God lifted my spirit as I sat a couple hours with someone who is struggling way more than me. The opportunity to minister to others renewed my heart and took my eyes off myself. With every word I shared and prayed God poured back into me. I followed this up with some much needed pool therapy.

I’ve got an appointment with my pain specialist this coming Friday. I’m praying that insurance will approve his recommendation for another pain shot. I’m also in the process of transferring my pain management somewhere else. While I’m battling a lot of demons I’m way more encouraged at this time. I shortened my day with sleep and God lifted my spirit with purpose. My upcoming pain assessment gives me hope for the pain relief I know God will bring in time.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10

Where Are You Sleep?

Usually by now I’m fast asleep. My nighttime medications help me get the sleep I can’t get on my own. Somehow that’s not the case tonight, but hopefully that changes soon. My wife is fast asleep beside me. Typically I’m out way before her.

Sleep is definitely one of the best ways for the body and mind to be renewed. In my case it’s a critical break needed from pain. It also shortens my day and gives me a chance at normalcy. My body must get at least 8 hours rest to have the best shot at operating for 8 hours during the day.

Fortunately, I am pretty comfortable at nearly 2am. The yawning is increasing and that’s a good sign. My prayers have been many as God has my full attention. I keep thanking Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do. I’ve also given him all my requests and heartfelt concerns. This all together brings a huge sense of peace in my heart.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Reality Checks

Laying on my side once again just waiting on my meds to take me to never hurt land. It’s crazy how one small area of pain has me dragging so much. It’s breathtaking to walk at all and there is no comfortable sitting position. Thank God for a great heating pad and medication that will eventually help.

I’m writing a lot today because I’m kind of in shock. Seems forever ago that this particular level of pain reared it’s head. This is more than just a bad day. This is a reality check that nothing has gone away. You always want so badly to think you’ve been miraculously cured. Instead you realize you’ve just been given some tools for momentary relief.

Chronic pain breaks your heart again and again and again. There are so many levels of denial. There are so many things it changes. There are so many people affected by my health issues. I hate it so much. The guilt of how much it affects others is probably the worst for me. All I can do is keep doing what I can while trusting God with all I can’t even fully understand.

“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

No One Wants To Hear It

Recently, a lady who is part of this page told me. “Nobody including my own my mom wants to hear that I’m in pain. So now I just sit there miserable in silence or just choose not to be around any of my family.” I told her that is very sad, but is exactly why I’m starting a monthly support group at the Colleton Medical Walking Park on June 13th at 6:30pm. Everyone needs someone who understands and doesn’t second guess their pain.

In fact, I told her I literally started this page a couple years ago for a similar reason. I was told by a relative that no one wanted to hear about my pain. And, while it hurt at the time I believe they were right. No one without compassion towards pain wants to hear of your pain. They’ve just simply not experienced brokenness to your degree. Or it’s been instilled that big boys and girls don’t cry.

Well I’m not a big boy if that’s a fact. And I don’t care to hang out long with those who can’t admit their weaknesses or love me beyond mine. If you’re reading this I’m very sorry for your pain. I know it’s all you can do to get up and show up.

If you live near Walterboro, SC I pray you join our local support group. God is using my pain to make me compassionate towards yours. Others don’t mean any harm when they make you feel worse. They just don’t understand because they’ve not been in your shoes.

“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

Calm Yourself Down

These were the words of my loving, patient wife earlier that needed to be said. Only problem with that request is I can’t always control my body or emotions with this level of pain. I woke up this morning with radiating nerve pain in the lowest nerves in my spine. I knew it was seeking to take me down. Sadly, that old familiar pain has reared its head again. Something must be done sooner than later. This is not the type pain you can even possibly ignore.

I’ve made a phone call to my pain specialist. Due to their busyness I’m having to wait for a call back after leaving a voice message. I’m praying I can get the soonest appointment available. I’m hoping that insurance will approve another shot ASAP. With the frequency I obviously need these shots I can’t afford to pay cash.

For now I’m just breathing in and out deeply. First thing I did earlier when I got up and felt this pain was hit my knees. Of course, the enemy hopes I lose my mind and feel hopeless. Satan preys I let this pain consume me and devour me. While I must respect it, I will not let the devil win. I will choose to let God calm me and use the pain for His allowed purposes.

We all long for total healing from such struggles. But, you reach a point where you have to learn how to continually walk through the pain. Even if it’s breathtaking it’s my cross to bear. Jesus always has greater purpose with every cross he calls us to take bear while following him. I do hate every second of this pain. However, I’ve got to practice and trust what I preach and totally believe in myself. God has and will keep calming me down when I can’t do so for myself.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Maybe You Need To Hear This

I feel led to take the mask off. Not that I’m not transparent all the time. However, I heard a comment recently from someone that unsettled me. This lady said, “I don’t know how you do it. I wish I was as strong as you and your faith.” While I appreciate the encouraging side of that it actually hurt my heart. Because I knew firsthand this lady felt very defeated in her own pain battle.

I said, “Mam, not everything I say is the full story. You don’t see all my tears or hear about all my struggles. There are many times I feel absolutely defeated. Often, I’m terrified about what the future might hold. I just choose to walk by faith. Somehow God keeps holding me together and taking me through each day”

Honestly, I believe one of the worst things we can do is compare our faith with each other. Christianity is not meant to be a competition. In fact, it’s not meant to be about us period. It’s about encouraging one another to rely on Christ instead of self. It’s about trusting in Christ instead of our circumstance. If there’s any good in me period it’s because of Christ. I’m constantly feeling like I’m falling apart, but Christ keeps holding me together.

“He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:17

Jaws Is Back In Town

Forgive me for this misleading title for those terrified of sharks. I wouldn’t want to swim in a pool with one of them myself. Unfortunately, I have officially recognized a very big threat to my health nearby. It may sound like nothing to you, but it has proven dangerous to me over time. Therefore, I take the fact it’s quickly approaching very serious.

For the last several days I’ve been telling my wife that the nerve near my tailbone is back hurting. I’ve just been praying I was only having a bad day. Tailbone pain or pain in the coccyx (the lowest portion of the spine) may occur suddenly after an obvious injury. It’s like the pain just keeps radiating and throbbing. Now it doesn’t matter what I do it is not running away. Heat seems to be the only certain reliever outside of muscle relaxers.

Time has had proven this can’t be ignored because it will quickly wear me down. While the last shot I got in this area hurt very badly there’s no doubting it brought some eventual relief. It’s been over 3 months since the last shot and that’s typically how long it’s relief last for me. This puts me back at a crossroads that will demand a decision.

If do nothing the past would have taught me nothing. As I’ve said many times you have to respect your pain and remain a student of anything that works to better your quality of life. I believe I’ve got to get back to doing certain stretches and watching very methodically how long I sit or stand at one time. Certainly a lot to constantly juggle while trying to juggle life. But, it’s the trial God has chosen to allow. I know God has reason the adversity. I just have to continue doing what I can while trusting Him for all I can’t.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Parents: Tough Love Is Mandatory

I have four boys ages 19, 17, 15, and 9. Each one of them have totally different personalities. Each one has to be approached in an understanding way. Each one just like myself has certain strengths and weaknesses. Each one of them are in different seasons of life.

Time has proven that growing up is a process. Parenting through that growth can be very challenging. Sometimes you have to be very aggressive. Sometimes you just have to let them learn the hard way. However, never should you quit caring enough to do what you can to encourage them in the right direction.

One way you must do this is through tough love. In the home, we must operate as the parents. What they do apart from our supervision or knowledge we can’t control. Yet, as long we can we should draw very clear lines of what is right and totally not acceptable. Regardless of what form of punishment you choose there must be discipline when necessary.

Parenting any child is not for wimps. We must operate with great courage and faith. We must stand our ground when tough love is demanded. Parents, if they don’t learn to live under your authority they will likely seek to live above authority.

I love each of my children dearly. However, the goal of parenting is not about being best friends forever. Parenting is seeking to train your child up in the way God directs you. Continuing to pray they might choose to live in a God pleasing way apart from you. Keep loving your child unconditionally, but know tough love at times is mandatory.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Celebrating The Good Stuff

Yesterday was a good day for me considering my condition. Despite it being Memorial Day Weekend many came out for worship. God was once again at work in many lives. I got to share the vision God gave me years ago for Refuge Church. Even greater I get to see God doing great things I can’t deny or take credit for on a daily basis.

The pool once again gave me a huge lift after preaching all Sunday morning wore me out. Later, my wife and I actually enjoyed a dinner date. To my great surprise we were able to have quality conversation together. The fact my pain did not ruin our time was a rare miracle. I always hate she has to do all the driving. But, we’re both getting as used to that reality as possible.

When I got home I got straight in the bed. I would’ve certainly spent the rest of the evening in tub as my body was quickly rolling down hill. However, my skin was breaking out again due to water overload. Fortunately nighttime meds and laying on heating pads calmed my body enough to eventually fall asleep with no problem.

While my body presently is very sore I thank God for the progress. I can’t not praise Him for these moments when I used to never have a good moment. On top of it all I get to help countless others. So many are walking through similar pain. And I feel their pain and understand the struggle is constant. What is definitely a thorn is also a gift from God above to encourage others to trust God.

“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

5 Ways To Lift Your Spirit

The longevity of my painful journey has taught me many things. How to believe God when you can’t see anything changing. How to persevere when you feel like giving up. How to wait on God for your breakthrough. I’ve also learned some things critical for keeping your spirit lifted along the way.

1. Be Proactive

The longer you battle a condition the more you learn about it. You learn what you can’t do. You learn what you better do to take care of yourself. Remain a student of your condition so you can proactively manage your health when possible. It’s easier to stay on top of the pain. However, if you allow the pain to get on top of you it will take you down very quickly.

2. Get Out The House

In the past, I spent countless days alone in my house. Whether in the bed or tub I just wallowed in my misery. I finally learned that I had to get out the house. Even a couple hours in a new environment can lift your spirit. Staring constantly at the same walls and pain too long is never a good thing. Make yourself get out daily when possible. Just don’t over do it.

3. Focus On What You Can Do

Satan wants to keep kicking you while you’re down. He wants you to believe your life is over. While it may have changed it’s not over. Everyday there are reasons to smile. Celebrate what you can do and the moments you can enjoy. If all else fails start writing a thank you list to God to literally count your blessings.

4. Do Whatever It Takes

My life and ministry is constantly planned around my condition. I stay mindful of what’s best for my health. I still spend an average of 3 hours per day in a tub for relief. I make sure I get necessary rest. I take the medications I need to for my nerve pain and related anxiety. I take a walk or jump in the pool if I know it’s gonna help my body and mind. I stay honest about how I feel so I can do whatever it takes to thrive despite my struggles.

5. Let God Use It

This might not make most people’s list of ways to lift their own spirit. But, trust me it’s a game changer. Jesus wants to use your pain to encourage others in pain. When you know your pain is not a waste it gives you a feeling of worth. As you look around you discover you’re not alone in the struggle. Others need you and you need them to walk through the daily pain.

I Had To Unplug Myself

The technician that has adjusted my

spinal cord stimulator many times said “Mr. Crosby your nerves are super sensitive.” For this reason my unit can only run so high. It doesn’t take much for me to feel it buzzing strongly like electricity inside. If it buzzes too long I feel like I’m going crazy. Yes, I’ve got to have it for any quality of life. But, generally weekly I’ve got to consider turning it down or off a few hours.

It’s around 1:30pm Saturday and I’ve not even gotten out the bed. Laying here on my side feeling like I’ve got a strong electric current running throughout my body. Having had this internal stimulator almost two years I knew I had to turn it off. Thank God I can now tell the difference between just terrible nerve pain versus over stimulation from this man made highly recommended device.

When over stimulated the vibrations in my legs are constant. The longer this goes on I get very nauseous from vibrations that shake even into my chest. Any sudden sound makes me cringe or jump inside. A door opening, the dog walking on the hard floor, and even my own deep voice can be very bothersome. It typically takes just a few hours of the unit being totally off before all this begins to calms down. Its like I have to be unplugged and then plugged back up to keep going. Being a veteran patient I know longer panic over this matter. I just know it’s now necessary normal in my life. I thank God for this technology and discernment.

“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

Thank God For Pool Therapy

I’ve been feeling so much better since I got in the pool this afternoon. Being in there cooled and comforted my body so much. No doubting that it lowers my feelings of inflammation. The exercise calms my anxiety and nerve pain. I’m so glad the warmer weather affords me this opportunity.

I will be seeking to swim daily whether early morning or early evening. My body desperately needs the exercise. I’ve not been doing any daily intentional exercise or physical therapy for months. Of course, I used to walk often but it seems forever ago. For so long walking a few miles per day was like water to my body and soul. Then, after I stopped walking my body struggled to get back on track.

Still been watching my diet very closely. I’ve maintained an ideal body weight of 180 pounds for almost 5 months. I limit daily my caffeine and sugar intake. Why? Because either of these things have proven to increase my inflammation and nerve pain. Adding daily pool therapy to other disciplines is going to be a huge help for my condition. Overall this has been a great day since I got out the bed. Often getting up is my biggest and toughest step once my body gets knocked down.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

One Day It Will End

When you have chronic pain you tend to live on a constant merry go round. You wake up in pain. You go through the day in pain. When you try to lay down at night to sleep your pain speaks even louder. The main theme is your battle is never ending.

It was after 2am before my exhausted nerve wrecked body allowed me to fall asleep. Unfortunately, my legs just wouldn’t quit throbbing in pain. Even after taking nighttime meds and spending almost 4 hours in the tub. I know it’s hard to believe that just being seated for nearly 3 hours for my son’s band awards ruined me. Anytime, I face a physical challenge mixed with high emotion my nervous system typically crashes.

I’ve come to expect this merry go round of pain. Life has been this way for so long. I can barely remember when things were any different. When I didn’t have to account for this life disrupting pain every minute. Sleep is still the only time I get to sometimes fully escape the pain. I always look forward to bedtime and falling asleep as quick as possible.

Even as my entire lower body continues to vibrate God keeps my heart settled. I’m learning to embrace this new normal. I’m more focused on what I can do not just what I can’t. I praise God for the good He does even when we’re afraid or sad. I’m so thankful that one day this life filled with pain and struggle will be over for all Jesus followers. Until then God will give us the peace, purpose, strength and faith to keep marching forward.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4

My Heart Hurts Deeply

Tonight, I attended proudly my son Joel’s final band awards ceremony. I can’t believe my next to oldest is about to graduate high school. That’s gonna be very tough to swallow by itself. However, what hurts so deeply is my absence during his entire high school years. Less than a month into his freshmen year my life turned upside down due to a major slip and fall. Even worse his life changed due to my ongoing excruciating pain.

Many days gone by were so sad as I wanted to be there for him so badly. Yet, when you can barely get out the bed there’s not much you can do. I missed taking him on our usual fishing trips he once loved. I missed the majority of his band competitions and regular performances. I’ve missed so much I could cry for hours and still not be over it. It’s not one of those things you get over, but somehow God takes you through.

Despite my condition he’s turning into a fine young man. I know he’s seen my struggle way beyond what he wanted to observe. I’m sure my brokenness has made him question God’s goodness. I can only pray he recognizes God’s goodness and faithfulness. That he won’t just remember his dad down a long time. But, he remembers most how God resurrected his dad’s body, mind, and heart when things appeared hopeless. I’m having to remind myself that God often uses pain to get us to His purpose. I’m choosing to believe God is using my broken heart to build something far greater than any memory I missed.

“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

The Strength Of My Life

I’ve been awake since 4am. No, I’m not an early riser. Yes, I’m still very sleepy. My aching body just has me lying awake again. Nothing unusual with this nerve pain feeling like ice running throughout my body. However, this nauseating feeling is something you never get over. God just keeps taking me through.

Recently, my health situation has been as consistent as I’ve known since dealing with this brokenness. By God’s grace I continue to overcome my limitations. God continues to use the pain to accomplish His greater purpose. I love how God is working, but I always hate what the pain does to me. I’m as comfortable as I can be while living consistently uncomfortable.

Pain is never welcomed. Yet, it may very well be one of the most unifying humbling forces. We all deal with it in some form or another. It reveals our humanity and desperate need for God’s help. It often leaves you with only two options of coping. You can either turn to drugs to temporarily numb the pain. Or you kneel before God asking Him to carry you through the pain. The struggle is real and only with God’s strength can you make it through the pain.

“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7

Learning To Breathe

Part of its my very nature. A huge part has just been the feeling of demand on my life for so long. I used to jokingly say that someone was always dying to see me. Sadly, somewhere in my mind I actually believed this lie. I literally treated everything urgent. I felt like I was supposed to be Superman. That is until I ran into this kryptonite of nerve issues.

My permanent reality check has finally helped me see the light. Yes, the world can actually function without me. No, I’m not God’s only ambassador He uses to carry out His work. In fact, I’m not near as important as I once thought. It’s only God that does anything good in me or through me. Not everything has to be done all at once or by me.

It feels so good to have intentional boundaries. To actually schedule time to just breathe. To be a present husband, father, and a much healthier pastor. I’ve never wanted to be one of those who preaches things they don’t actually practice. Thank you God for teaching me how to breathe myself and live at a more balanced pace. At this pace, I may actually finish this race called life without burnout ruining the day. Plus I will be available when and where God most needs me.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Time To Embrace It

I totally believe in being positive. I totally believe in maintaining a faith that says anything is possible. I also believe you need to acknowledge life’s realities while maintaining your faith. Living in denial changes nothing. Moving from denial gives you a chance to make the most of your present new reality.

Anyone who lives at my house knows that my health affects my life drastically sun up to sun down. I can’t mask it as it constantly runs me down. I wake up with my legs barely underneath me. With every step I know things can go from bad to worse very quickly. My life is affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I don’t need my daily medications to remind me of my condition. I don’t need any doctors to confirm I have major nerve damage. I don’t need my wife to tell me I’ve got serious problems. Why? Because I’ve lived inside this nerve wrecked body for nearly four years. It’s taken at least three years to move from denial to digesting my new normal.

It may not be what I want to accept, but I must embrace it’s where things are today. So, for now I need to try to build the best life I can despite it, around it, and through it. Only with God’s help can I move from denial to making the most of each opportunity. For me, I feel it’s time. Time to embrace this new reality of mine regardless of how much that pains me to say.

“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, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Please Cover Me In Prayer

Woke up this morning no worse than I laid down last night. It was a rough night of off and sleep. I think I’ve gained back some mobility in my neck & left shoulder. I just keep having to ice, ice, and ice. This area is so sore, but fortunately trending the right direction. I thank God for any sleep I did get with this condition.

Now, the greatest challenge still lies ahead. Just a couple hours from now I’ve got to preach the first of two back to back worship services. I’m not freaking out because I’ve preached many times in a lot worse condition. Yet, this is an entirely new condition due to the pinch in my neck. I certainly can’t rely on my strength or power for things to be effective.

God has given me a powerful message that I don’t want to hinder in any way. My medications of course have me a little groggy this morning. The pain is very uncomfortable and could easily distract me from being able to focus. Please join me in praying that God will be glorified regardless of my pain. I thank you for any prayers offered on my behalf.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20–21).

Thank God I’m Never Alone

As I lay here on my side the nerves are beginning to settle. My wife and boys had been gone to see a movie. As soon as my better half arrived my heart was more at peace. Just her presence by my bedside lifted my spirit. Knowing she is here for me through life’s ups and downs means so much.

So many people struggle through pain alone. For those reading this I’m deeply sorry for your feelings of isolation. In fact, you’re the reason I’m writing this now. I understand the battle is fierce. That you desperately need someone to understand and assure you things will be okay.

Yes, God has and always will be with you. He’s holding out a hand for you to hold. He’s sending those words of comfort through others to settle your heart. Praise God we’re never alone! God is as close as the air you breathe even when it’s hard for you to take that next breath.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

In My Distress

It’s never a good sign when you’re taking all your nighttime meds two hours early. A muscle relaxer hours ago helped a little. Icing my neck and shoulder helped some too. Sadly the pain just won’t let up and has come back even stronger. I’m back laying on ice and waiting on several medications to do something.

If I was to label this kind of pain I would call it trapping pain. It’s not the type you just ignore and go on with your business. It can make you cry, throw up, and freeze in place all at the same time. Fortunately, I have loads of experience at this stuff. I know all I can do is try to rest, pray and weather this storm.

Of course, this would come when I have several key speaking engagements the next few days. God willing most that hear me preach won’t have a clue of the degree of my struggle. Honestly, right this moment I’m just desperate for some relief. It hurts just to touch my neck and shoulder. There is no position that is comfortable sitting or laying. I’m sure God will see me through again.

“I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1

It’s So Embarrassing

I had just gotten out the shower and all I did was lift one arm in the air. Next thing I know my entire left shoulder is out of commission. Yes, as if I needed further issues. It’s as if a million muscle spasms attacked me all at once. It was all I could do to move and try to lay down on my side. I yelled for my wife to come and help me try to work it out. My 17 year old son even tried to no avail.

Even now the knots are still there. The tightness between my neck and shoulder are breathtaking. However, I know it will settle down eventually. Hopefully the muscle relaxer I’ve taken will bring some relief. Most of all, this stuff just becomes so humiliating.

Today, I had plans to help with a church event. Unfortunately, I had to get some others to do things I was wholeheartedly committed to doing myself. This kind of stuff gets very old and disheartening. I told one gentleman that I was so sorry his pastor is such train wreck. While he offered very encouraging words it didn’t change my feelings of shame.

Now, I know why so many others who struggle often apologize. They tell me they feel so embarrassed. I always tell them it’s nothing you can control or should view as embarrassing. Nonetheless, I’ve got to swallow my pride and constantly remind myself it’s never about me. God has reasons for everything he allows.

“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

Mercy Is Rewriting My Life

There were certainly days in the past I wondered if this would ever be possible. My broken body has and still does threaten my joy each day. Never does a step feel easy or an event not challenge my limitations. I still wake up daily fighting to get up and I go to bed fighting to rest comfortably. Yet, I’m very grateful for God giving me back some quality of life.

By God’s grace I can still be a husband, dad and pastor. No, I can’t do anywhere near what I wish I could do. However, each day brings moments of opportunity. Opportunities that make a difference. Moments that I’m just glad to share with family and friends.

There’s no doubt that I way overlooked God’s mercies in the past. Guess I didn’t realize it was such a gift just to wake up healthy each day. Such a gift to have strength, purpose, and so much opportunity. Now, while every moment must be calculated I’m so grateful for every moment. I feel God’s mercy everyday my feet hit the floor and opportunity presents itself. God is rewriting the way I live as His mercy covers me daily.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Are You Really Leading?

Being a leader is one of the greatest challenges on the planet. Whether it’s being a parent, teacher, preacher, coach, boss or president. It actually takes quite sometime to even know what you’re doing. It takes even longer to learn how to lead others towards doing it. To embrace what should be the goal of every leader.

First of all, a leader is not called to see how much they can do, but how much “we” can do together. Leadership is not meant to be a spectator sport or solo performance. The effectiveness of any leader is not measured by their efforts, but instead their influence. What difference will you make in the lives of others? How will others reach their full potential because of your intentional leadership?

Next, leadership must be intentional. That’s great that you can do certain things well. But, leaders intentionally help others learn to do things well. It’s your job to show them, teach them and position them for growth. If you don’t help reproduce other leaders you aren’t leading with enough intention. You’re simply gathering others and saying watch what I can do.

Finally, leaders should lead as if they can’t lead tomorrow. Any leader is replaceable and should always be looking for their replacement. We have to put aside our insecurities. We have to make the mission more important than us feeling most important. We have to recognize that any of us can go down at any moment. Our true leadership will be evaluated by whether others have been taught how to carry on with the mission without us. These are just a few things God has been teaching me over the years.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1

Beware Of Cruise Control

Personally, I don’t want to drive my car without it. You know that button you push that frees you to relax a little. It allows you to take your foot off the gas and brake. In fact, it’s too bad you still have to hold the steering wheel. Otherwise, you might be tempted to just take a nap until you reach your destination.

Unfortunately after awhile cruise control can lead to sleep driving. I know I’ve had times where all I remember is leaving one place and arriving at another. So much could have happened while I was cruising. Sadly cruise control can decrease your senses. You could easily get in a sudden crash as your focus becomes more relaxed.

Satan loves it when we try to operate spiritually on cruise control. Suddenly we quit thinking about our enemy. We spend way less time in prayer and in God’s word. Eventually we even quit going to church because we don’t really feel the need anymore. Then, boom the evil one tackles us from behind while we think we’re just cruising. Never under estimate the spiritual battle we all face. Every time you do a rude awakening is sure to follow.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

It’s Like Waking From A Coma

They say waking from a coma is scary. You’re confused about what has or has not happened. You’ve possibly missed a lot of real life moments as you were busy battling for your very life. You fight to get back adjusted to living normal. Yet, there’s no denying your time in that coma affected you and your loved ones deeply.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in a coma. I do know what it feels like to be trapped inside your body’ quite awhile. For three years I simply survived. Daily, I did everything I could to stay sane. Daily, I did everything I could to resist the temptation of taking more serious drugs. I did all I could at the time to talk to my family who I dearly love. But, there weren’t many moments I could truly be there for anyone.

I may spend my entire life wondering all I missed while I was down and out. Unfortunately, I know that the list of moments is pretty long. I practically missed all of my two oldest son’s high school years. They had key performances and accomplishments that daddy just couldn’t attend. Nothing I can change now, but things I just wouldn’t have missed if healthy. Instead, I had to focus on fighting for any chance at a future with them all. Sadly I can’t redo the past, but I will do all I can to make the most of the future.

“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,” Philippians 3:13

Get Me Out The Way

A few years ago, I knew God had me in a huge transition period. I remember saying, “Lord when you’re done there won’t be anything left of me.” Despite my concerns God continued to stretch me. Despite my fears God continued to test me. Now, despite me God is doing a new thing.

There was a time where I relied heavily on my ability to get things done. People knew me as someone they could always count on. I’ve preached more funerals the past decade than most will ever attend in their lifetime. I’ve spent countless hours counseling huge flocks of people. Then, without warning God took away my superpowers.

Suddenly I couldn’t rely on myself for anything. Many days I didn’t even know if I could get up let alone show up. No longer could I just be the guy who helped everybody. It was just the beginning of God getting me out of his way. Most of this journey has been very painful. However, every step of the way I could see God at work.

Now, God has me right where He wants me. Running into my new limits has led me to invest daily in other leaders. Knowing I can’t do everything myself has led me to truly value the body of Christ. I was never meant to be Mr Fix it, but I’ve been called to lead flocks of people towards Jesus. I’m seeing God do daily so much more as I become less and less. It’s amazing how God has to get us out the way so He can have His way.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

Take Time To Breathe

I’m happy to say it’s 5pm and I’ve not left the house once. Even better I’ve not spent this Monday engaged in any major ministry. Monday’s are officially my day of rest except for true emergencies. Yes, my phone rings many times. Yes, there are still countless needs coming my way hourly. However, God has revealed to me that I must draw a very firm line in the sand.

I can’t live on call all the time. I can’t continuously pour out to others without becoming burnout myself. I absolutely love helping people find direction and hope. I love helping marriages, families, and those who feel like giving up. I love sharing God led encouraging words. But, I can only keep pouring out as I allow God to keep pouring into me.

I know because I’ve been a product of total burnout. I’ve had to step away from local church ministry before for two years just to get restored back to health. Just like it is for everyone my health must come before my help. Otherwise, I won’t be healthy or helping for very long.

If you don’t draw clear lines you will always cross those lines. Ignoring your own need for rest and renewal will only make you another burnout statistic. In my profession alone countless pastors are neglecting their own health and family.

I don’t plan to be one of the over 1800 ministers leaving the ministry every month for reasons other than retirement. Even after being in ministry over 25 years I must recognize my own humanity. I pray those reading this will guard their hearts, lives, and time.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

Humming Along

Today has been a very long Mother’s Day. I believe God did a whole lot despite me at both morning worship services. After church we gathered with my mom and family. Then, tonight we gathered with my mother in law and family. Overall, today was four times as active than I am on any average day.

Praise God, my stimulator and meds have kept my entire day bearable. Even now I don’t feel anything disturbing. I guess I’m in shock since this has not been the case for several years. It just feels so good to not crash and burn. To not have to feel like my health ruined a special day.

Now, I will likely wake up tomorrow very sore. However, I’m officially seeking to take it easy every Monday. I’ve discovered that is what’s best for my health. I will seek to get the necessary rest and relaxation needed. I will keep my phone on silence as it’s my only chance to step away from constant demand. I’m so grateful for a day that physically I got to feel somewhat normal. God has shown me great mercy.

“This is the day the Lord has made;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Daddy, I Got Your Back

None of my boys have seen my daily battle more than my 9 year old Asher. Since age 5 he has seen the good, bad and ugly due to my nerve wrecked condition. He’s watched me barely be able to walk a step. He’s watched me spend day after day in a bed of misery or recovery. He knows his dad has had multiple surgeries, been to countless doctors and still isn’t fixed. He also knows that with God’s help his daddy is stronger mentally and spiritually than ever.

I’m so glad he saw me go from barely crawling to walking strong for miles. From not just laying in a bed of pain to living with a new sense of purpose and strength. I’m glad he’s seen me move from feeling hopeless to knowing God is always there. He sees God use my pain daily to help others who live in pain daily. God knew he needed to see the struggle so he will know how to cling to Jesus through his struggles.

Recently, some kids were trying to hug me and were touching my hurt back. Like a watch dog that knew his mission my 9 year old jumped to defend me. He said, “Nobody hurts my daddy’s back.” He told me later “Daddy I always got your back.” Honestly, I believe God has already created another little faith walker. I’m so glad he’s able to see through me that God will always be with him.

“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. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:35-37)

When We Were Younger

My emotions have been calm and consistent the past two days. I’ve certainly learned not to take any decent days for granted. While I don’t like physical pain it’s typically my unpredictable nerves that take me over the edge. Even my physical pain has been kept bearable as I continue to respect my condition. Yet, it still takes so long to reach any point of really accepting your new lifestyle.

This life full of constant changes often leaves us shaking our heads. Seems we’re always comparing today to yesterday. We grieve what used to be when the good old days appear in our rear view mirror. Definitely the older we get the less we take our health for granted. Embracing any major change in our health is never fully accepted.

I used to be so active. Loved playing sports and going fishing. Used to coach my boys and hit the gym when time allowed. Now, I consider time in a rocking chair a sport. Usually by 8:30pm I’m tucked in bed. Watching a movie is extremely challenging. Just sitting and walking must be monitored. I’ve come so far in my health journey yet I still find myself reminiscing about how things used to be not long ago. Even still, I thank God for the health I can celebrate as fight to accept my new normal.

“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

Kicking, Screaming, & Praising God

Today has by far been my best day this week. Ironically, Thursday was my turning point last week. For the past two weeks in a row Monday through Wednesday has been an outright war. The kind of days you just want to end and hardly a second is enjoyable. No doubt, I’m back in a season of testing. A spiritual war where all you can do is hold onto your faith and perspective.

Overall, I’ve been like a two year old wanting out of time-out. I know God is with me and for me. I know God will never leave nor forsake me. I know God is allowing or orchestrating everything. I know God is still growing me and showing me things. I just want the struggle to be over and the pain to stop.

I honestly feel like I’m as used to this pain as you can be. It’s not the kind of discomfort you can ever totally ignore. Somehow, even my ribs are extremely sore on my left side. So you can now say my only truly comfortable positions are on my right side and lying down in the tub. Yes, I’m still kicking and screaming over my condition. Even still, I feel more in tune to God’s will than ever. I’m so grateful for the things I can do and that God is doing through this pain. I guess there will always be a fight between my flesh and God’s spirit living within me.

“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41

Write It Out And Believe

Sometimes you have things inside that just need out. You may not have the strength to say them out loud. You may not have the courage to speak them directly to someone. However, it’s just too heavy to stay on your chest and shoulders. I feel this way often with my health battle. I choose to write it out.

Today, I’m doing my best to finish preparing the message God has given me to preach Sunday. Never do I take the platform God has given me lightly. Never do I show up unprepared even if my body doesn’t feel fully cooperative. The notes God has given me aren’t just for others, but for me. I need to take this message to heart and believe God’s power in my life.

Every night is a fight to get to sleep. Every morning is a fight to get out of bed. Seems I’ve battled the same battle for so long. It’s really starting to weigh me down physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’m personally fighting to believe my situation will get any better. I believe it’s vital that we never lose faith in what God can do for us despite the situation at hand.

“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:23-25

I Can’t Run From Myself

Once again I’m laying on my side just hoping for the pain to settle. I pretty much never take a nap during the day. Not because I don’t want to, but my body simply won’t allow it. There is basically no position I can lay down that allows me to be comfortable. I would have to take some of my nighttime muscle relaxers to have any chance at sleeping.

I basically spend all day trying to run from myself. Yet, it’s impossible when the pain is living deep inside my body. So often I just want a break from the discomfort that makes nothing fully enjoyable. Sadly, that’s why I can’t ever wait to take my nighttime meds. It’s the only guaranteed total break I get from this aching body.

Dealing with this burden has become a way of life. I get up expecting to hurt. I make plans around the hurt. I lay down knowing that I’ve got to numb my pain or my body will never get rest. How I’ve made it the past three years and eight months is nothing less than a miracle of God. He continues to strengthen me through it all.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1

It’s Why I Keep Writing

This is my 990th article to post. Tonight while meeting with a very dear brother in Christ I was reminded why I keep writing. I will never forget the first time I read how many people were actually reading my writings. I thought I was just sharing my thoughts and experiences. My online blog stats reveal that over 86,000 people from 130 different countries have been touched by my life stories. This doesn’t even count the thousands that read my articles in the local paper weekly.

Then, I shared how so much of what I’ve written has flowed from my own personal pain. Pain that I’ve wished so much would go away. Pain that has compelled me to write to help others going through pain. I admitted that without the pain I typically don’t write. However, my deep pain forces God’s truth out of me.

Then, I did something I’ve never done. I started reading out loud some of the articles I had written. Most of them I had typed with only one hand as my entire being was in the lowest of valleys. I literally could only read a few sentences at a time before my tears would strangle my ability to speak. Every word felt so real because they were describing in detail my very own painful reality. That’s when it hit me why this has worked.

You see, only those who have experienced deep pain can understand deep pain. All I’ve been doing is letting my bleeding heart connect to other bleeding hearts. It just so happens that thousands of others can identify. So, I will continue to be transparent while offering others hope. I will continue to see my pain as a platform that God has allowed for His glory. For I truly do hurt day and night. Yet, I realize God is greatly at work day and night.

“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

It Never Fails To Happen

Practically every morning feels like today. I wake up feeling like every nerve inside my body has been ripped out. It’s such an aching, throbbing, nauseating experience. It’s all I can do to sit up. It usually feels impossible to get up.

This has been going on so long you would think it would get easier. However, feeling miserable from your feet to your face is never welcomed. Fortunately, I have had some good days here and there. But, most of my days begin and end with the joy knocked totally out of me.

If I didn’t have my faith in God I would rarely if ever get out of bed. If I didn’t know God still has a plan I would think for sure my purpose in life has passed. If I hadn’t seen God carry me through this before I would be paralyzed by my condition. I still don’t like it and I still cry periodically when it just becomes too much. Then, I let go and let God have control so that my joy can be restored.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

When You Can’t Sleep

Not long ago, this was truly a nightly occurrence. My unbearable pain was constant. I simply couldn’t sleep no matter what I tried. I would beg God for relief from the misery. I would ask other believers to pray on my behalf. All glory to God those days appear behind me.

Now, it’s been over three years since I’ve slept a wink without some nighttime medication. However, I don’t care what I have to take if it enables me to sleep. When you can’t sleep you can’t get refreshed. When you can’t sleep the day last forever. When you can’t sleep your mind goes in overdrive downhill.

The devil loves to manipulate an exhausted mind. He floods your mind with worry. He tries to make you relive everything negative in the past. He seeks to wear you down hoping to take down. When the flesh is weak that’s when we must rely on the spirit of God that lives within us to keep us strong. We must run to Jesus for relief and rest that no doctor can deliver.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Don’t Just Survive

I’m not sure there is any greater school than the one full of hard knocks. In many ways we do learn most by experience. All of us have been through things that feed our brokenness, humility and life understanding. Yet, it’s not what happens to us that matters most. It certainly matters most how we respond to it.

Yes, adversity introduces a man to himself. Yes, we might not like what we see looking into the mirror of reality. So, when facing anything greater than myself there is a big decision to be made. Will I choose to just survive or give my best towards thriving? Will I choose life or let whatever happens bring death to all my hopes and dreams.

For me, quit has never been option. Sure, I’ve felt like quitting many days. But, everyday I choose to get up and show up. I choose to let God use the good, bad and ugly in my life for His glory. There is no such thing as wasted pain unless you choose to waste the opportunities it brings. I choose to believe that no matter what life brings with God’s help I will overcome it. Not because I’m more powerful, but the one who lives within me is all powerful. This simple belief each day makes the difference in thriving versus merely surviving.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

Broken Not Finished

The day I fell ruined my life as I once knew it. It shattered by lower back disc and most of my nervous system. No day has been the same since that life changing moment. I’m not sure I can define my body’s condition any better than just broken. Everyday is a physical chore as I fight to live forward.

Often when we can’t do what we used to the devil wants us to believe there is nothing left we can do. I spend most of my days in a bath, bed, or chair that sits just right. I may look alright on the outside, but my body is constantly fighting inside. Physically my life has changed so much. I could list a thousand plus things I used to do that I simply can’t do anymore.

While the old me died a few years back God has proven He is not done with me. I’m now a voice for those who are drowning in pain. I’m now a comfort for those who feel so misunderstood. I do more ministry by phone, on my side, or lying on my side than most will ever do standing on both feet. My life stays focused on encouraging and equipping others who can physically do what I no longer humanly can do. I don’t always like my broken position. However, I can still see God finishing His work through me and despite me.

“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)

God Answered My Prayers

It’s been a God made day. Nothing earth shattering to tell you. In fact, it was far from the best day of my life. But, I feel like I’ve been let out of prison. The past three days was like being held hostage and tormented continuously. I was begging God for freedom from the pain.

Seemed there was absolutely nothing I could do to get my nervous system calmed down. My normally helpful spinal stimulator suddenly just felt useless. I prayed and prayed as the pain kept sucking the life out of me. Honestly, I was contemplating what I might have to do to numb my misery. I knew if things continued much longer I was in big trouble.

Then, God blessed me with over 11 hours of sleep. I woke up immediately feeling like a brand new man whose body had been recharged. I felt no pain anywhere while lying in bed. I knew my stimulator was back on track as my legs were full of comfort. Like Jesus I was left for dead for three days. However, God resurrected me once again. Every step today has been heaven made. You see, once you’ve been a prisoner of such pain you can’t help but celebrate sweet, sweet relief.

“I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.” Psalm 120:1

So Thankful For Rest & Relief

Praise God! I just finished sleeping 11 hours and 11 minutes. It certainly feels like my stimulator is back to working its magic. I’m a little sluggish. But, I know I’ve got to maintain respect of my limitations.

I’m back to monitoring my daily activity. I must do whatever necessary to give myself the best chance of consistency. This involves monitoring when and how much I rest. Tracking how many steps I take daily. Looking how long I’m up on my feet or sitting upright. Being mindful how many things I even attempt to put my heart and mind on each day.

I’ve found consistency in the past. I know I can find it again. There’s just no other way than daily discipline, boundaries, and respect concerning my condition. It’s about living one day at a time while trusting Jesus with every step. It’s about being honest with those around me that this is my new normal. I must do these things to live healthy. This involves watching how I eat, rest, and spend my time each day.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

The Worse Days Of My Life

The hardest days to push through are those you feel nothing but miserable. Yet, you have to find a way to push through anyway. In the moment, you just can’t see yourself making it another step. Even to get up feels like a challenge. Trying to show up feels nearly impossible.

Today has definitely been one of my most miserable days ever. I am certain that I’ve had a few much worse days in the past. It’s just present misery always seems to trump misery in the past. I’ve taken everything I can now just hoping to drift off to sleep soon. It’s very easy for me to see why most people with similar conditions just drown themselves in whatever numbs their pain.

The roughest times feel so much more unbearable now. Mainly because I have been able to experience much greater relief the past several weeks. Right now I’m just holding on for dear life while praying for God’s deliverance. I find it nearly impossible to describe to most people what it feels like for my entire nervous system to feel out of line. Plus, to know there is not a single thing I can do about it for the rest or your life. I’m still confident in my God and this spinal cord stimulator. Together they will get my nervous system back on track.

“ 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.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord I Thank You

God just put it on my heart how to praise Him through this storm. There’s so much that makes me smile each day. There are so many blessings I’ve received through my pain. Honestly, I can’t name them all. Here are just a few that stand out.

One, I’ve been drawn closer to God. This pain has not made me bitter, but in so many ways better. I’m learning how to truly lean on God for my strength, grace, and very purpose. Apart from this pain I would be walking ahead of God instead of walking with God.

Two, my walls of pride have crumbled. I had no idea how full of myself I had became. Daily I’m learning how to make much of Him while there is not much left of me. The constant struggle keeps me humble and earnestly pointing to Christ as my rock. Not sure I could have reached this point apart from the pain.

Lastly, I’m so grateful for the platform to encourage others. No I don’t have it all figured out. However, I have learned that God is faithful even when life circumstances change. Now, I can identify with others who think they just can’t go on because of their pain. I can assure them that all things are possible as they put their little hand in God’s big hand.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

There’s Nothing More Doctors Can Do

I wish so badly things weren’t this way. My pain continues to feel breath taking. Its draining every ounce of my strength. My legs feel like they can barely move. I couldn’t hide my battle if I tried.

My wife asked earlier “don’t you think you should go to the doctor?” That’s when the cold hard truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I replied, “don’t you realize there is absolutely nothing more any doctor can do.” This echoed in my heart the permanence of my condition from a human standpoint. I guess this is something I’m still fighting to swallow.

I just can’t get this spinal cord stimulator back in rhythm. Or maybe there is some kind of bug in my system. I’ve been here before and I’m sure I will be here again. My anxiety is minimal, but my frustration level is pretty high. It makes me feel so useless and powerless. I simply must keep calling my God who make the impossible, possible. Because Lord knows I can’t change a thing in my strength.

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26

Waiting In Pain Is Hard

Woke up again this morning with this terrible nerve wrecking sensation running throughout my body. My spinal stimulator has got to be completely out of sync. What has always worked before just isn’t working now. I slept 7 1/2 hours with the help of medications. I’m very thankful for the break I did get from this pain.

It’s in these moments you can easily start to panic. The longer your condition stays at this level. The more satan wants to convince you things won’t ever change. Fortunately, I’ve been in this position many times. Every time my heart starts pounding, my mind loses patience, and my mind starts to wonder.

While I always hope I never get this bad again I know it’s just a season. I have no magic wand or quick solution. I will wait on the Lord minute by minute. Asking Him for discernment and deliverance. At just the right time He will pick me up and calm this raging sea. Of course, I’m praying it’s sooner than later. Either way I will trust Him even if the pain continues.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 1 Peter 5:6

The Breakthrough Is Undeniable

An hour before they came I could feel my tear ducts giving way. After some tears rolled down my face I thought I would be just fine once the prayer team arrived. I was laying on my side in our living room just trying to settle down my nerve wrecked body. My heating pad was helping a little, but inside everything felt so broken. Finally, this amazing group of prayer warriors from my church arrived.

There was a dozen angels representing three different countries praying for me and my family. You could feel the presence of God stirring in the room. You could feel the sincere love from each hand holding ours. Every prayer reminded me that God was there. Every prayer fanned the flame of faith within me. With every prayer uttered I felt closer and closer to erupting inside.

Finally, tears poured down my face and toxins ran out of my body. I felt so vulnerable and exposed. I couldn’t stop crying or revealing my condition had once again crushed my spirit. After pushing aside my pride I thank God for the release. I thank God for the prayers of healing and blessing.

I guess I just didn’t realize how much I needed those breakthrough prayers. Folks I’m telling you that chains were loosened and my spirit was lifted. Don’t hesitate for a moment to have other fellow believers gather around you for life changing prayer. Once again I experienced the difference it really makes when true believers in Christ agree in prayer.

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Mathew 18:19

I Guess I Need More Prayer

Why is prayer often our last option? Why does God have to allow greater struggles before we truly choose to rely on His great power? Why can’t we fully embrace that some things can only work out through prayer? Prayer is a discipline we all must practice. Prayer is the key to opening up the floodgates of God’s blessings and breakthrough.

I’m laying back right now feeling like a truck ran over me. My body is constantly aching and throbbing in pain. My insides continue to vibrate from my feet to my face. I’ve had to turn off my spinal cord stimulator due to over stimulation. I have no idea how long it will take for my insides to settle down. The least little sound or movement stirs up my pain like dust.

I guess it’s a divine appointment that my church’s prayer team was already scheduled to be at my house tonight. Part of me wanted to cancel it because of my extreme pain. Then, I realized that I need their prayers more than ever. I don’t need to run from prayer I need to run towards God. It’s often when you don’t even feel like it that you need to reach out and reach up for divine intervention. I definitely know I need the power only manifested by two or more gathered in the mighty name of Jesus.

“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

Let Me Fight For You

Had a very rough night and early morning. Dealing with my condition is like riding a roller coaster. One minute I’m up and the next I’m turned upside down. One minute I don’t feel so bad. Then, my body feels paralyzed from head to toe in deep, deep pain.

Last night I got into bed feeling like I had just been beaten to a pulp. My wife had to help me take several extra medications. Everything within my body was vibrating in pain. My wife adjusted my spinal cord stimulator and I just sought to pray silently with each breath. Eventually I drifted off to my safest place called sleep.

I woke up this morning with an all too familiar piercing sensation running throughout my nerve wrecked body. I’m sitting here now just catching my breath from the aftermath. For me it’s like I’ve been in a major fight that evidently I lost. My nerves are extremely sensitive to everything when I reach this point. Thank God the eye of that storm has passed.

Now, my heart is still very settled. I’ve learned the storm won’t last forever. God has proven time and time again that He will calm the storm. Knowing this calms my heart every time. In these moments, I simply have to be still and let God be God. I’m learning more and more how to let God fight for me instead of me fighting with my condition.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

I Know Better

Woke up this morning hurting so badly. Every nerve in my lower body feels angry and broken. I can’t say I’m surprised after a weekend that jumped all my necessary guardrails. I know better than to stay on my feet that long. I know doing anything extensively three days in a row puts me in a danger zone. I know any excessive amounts of caffeine or sugar usually give my body a later ride down extra pain lane.

I know all these things and I chose to do them anyway. Now, I did enjoy getting to take my 9 year old to the Rice Festival by myself for the first time in 4 years. The smile on his face as he road those rides made me smile. I wasn’t going to take him back the next day, but I felt he waited so long for this opportunity. I knew going to see the fireworks that night was way too much, but I so enjoyed being with friends.

Follow all that up with two Sunday morning sermons and a lot of caffeine. This all equals a lot of pain to remind me of my limits. While I’m hurting a lot I’m so grateful to even have answers. To know that I can do something or not do something to reduce my pain. So, I will once again write down these mental notes and seek to take them to heart. I will continue to ask myself not what can I do, but what I should I do that’s best for my health. I will feel better and I will operate more wisely.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial….” 1 Corinthians 6:12

Understanding Your Pastor

I always strive to be transparent. I firmly believe confession is key to healing. That honesty is necessary for understanding. That we should seek to recognize each other’s humanity and struggles. So, here are a few realities concerning most pastors.

First, you must know that pastors are just messengers. Every sermon we preach to you is also being preached to us. God has simply called us to share what His word reveals for us all. We’re not thinking we’re better than you or have it all figured out. We too strive daily to apply the messages we preach. Pastors are not operating with our agenda, but we’re seeking to get everyone aligned with God’s will.

Secondly, you must know that the pastor is an overseer not the entire body of Christ. Every believer has a responsibility as God’s called ambassador. Every believer has certain gifts that are meant to be used to minister to others for God’s glory. Every believer is called to love, lift, and lead others to Jesus. Together we accomplish more than we could ever do apart. Which is one of many reasons we need to gather together often.

Thirdly, you must know that pastors struggle to have a life of their own. The demand around us is constant. There is always a marriage that needs counseling. A grieving family that needs comforting. A desperate person that needs direction. An issue that needs addressing inside the church. A crisis that is calling for our attention outside the church. There is no such thing as off the clock. Even on vacation the phone rings and many expect us to be available the second they call.

Finally, you must know that pastors need your prayers too. Being a pastor has never been more stressful or complicated. This world is full of so much drama, confusion, division, anxiety, spiritual lostness and constant heartache. A pastor is exposed to so much on any given day. Most pastors are struggling greatly to take care of themselves as they continue to take care of others. Pastors need your prayers for peace, strength, balance and discernment.

This is just a sneak peek into understanding your pastor.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1