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

A God Written Love Story

She was still in high school and I was just beginning college. We only knew each other in passing from being in high school together a couple years. Plus, I was two grades ahead of her. She was a cheerleader and I was on the football team. However, I really can’t think of one moment before that our eyes ever met. I can promise you they did that night.

In my mind, I was just returning back to my high school alma mater for a football game. God proved His plans were so much more. Before, I barely knew her name. By the end of the night I knew her captivating smile, phone number, where she lived and that I really wanted to know her more. We road together that night to a church event. Everything moved so fast for two people who barely knew each other before.

That night totally changed my life. It was the end of me ever feeling lonely again. It was the end of me needing to search any longer for the love of my life. It was the end of me ever having to say I’m single. In one night, God started what He planned long before either of us took our first breath.

You see, God’s will is not something you create, but discover. God’s will is not something run down. Instead, you seek God with all your heart and He brings things to you. I remember asking my dad as an early teen “so how do you find the person you’re meant to marry”? He replied, “Son it will just happen. God will just bring it all together.” I doubt he remembers even saying that, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Twenty five years later I’m one of the happiest married men alive. At that time we just had attraction, but now we have true love. Daily she proves she’s been hand knitted together just for me. I sincerely fall in love with her more everyday. She completes me and makes me a very grateful man. I really don’t know what I would do without her.

I pray even now that each of our four boys will be so fortunate. That they will wait and trust God to bring their meant to be life long partner to them. God knows what He has planned for each of us. He takes even the broken roads and still puts us on the road of life. Nothing compares to His plans. I’m so glad Aimee Lynn Perrin was part of God’s amazing plans for my life.

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:11-13

The Battle Is Constant

Recently, I had someone ask a question many have asked recently. “So, are you all better now?” To that I replied, “Absolutely not, but I’m dealing with things much better.” This person said, “But I thought you were no longer in pain and able to do whatever you want. I heard you were back preaching and able to get out with your family.” All I could do was shake my head over people’s misunderstanding concerning chronic pain.

You see, chronic pain does not just go away. Especially if someone has some life altering condition. Trust me, I’ve done everything a doctor could request. Yet, my pain is not something I can ever totally control. All I can do is monitor my symptoms and make the best life decisions. Every hour of my life is still affected by my permanent nerve damage. Every decision is still based on what I’ve learned is my new normal.

People don’t get over permanent stuff. Instead, they must learn with God’s help how to walk through it. The best thing you can do to encourage someone with chronic pain is seek to understand their struggle. Most of them feel so misunderstood by their closest of loved ones and friends. For this reason I’m an advocate and counselor for many who need support.

While many are moving on with life. These folks are still wondering if they still have a life. While many do what they want when they want. These folks know their entire life approach must be altered. These folks may look alright on the outside, but there is always a constant battle taking place on the inside. Their chronic pain is never cured, but they always long for God’s comfort. I’m so glad for my struggle and my comfort as it allows me to help others.

“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)

Living My New Normal

The bad news is my body has not been miraculously healed. The great news is I’m learning how to make the most of my new normal. I’ve concluded there are three stages for anyone battling some life altering condition. One, you have to acknowledge that life has changed. It doesn’t mean you ever fully accept it. Nor does it mean you should ever quit believing God can heal you. However, you must acknowledge things aren’t the same as they used to be. This will move you from a state of denial towards actually dealing with the issue at hand.

Stage two is learning how to cope. Over the past 3 1/2 years I’ve had many anxiety attacks. I’ve had so many days that tears rolled and hope felt nowhere in sight. I really didn’t know how I would make it through. With God, counseling, processing, prayer, time and medications I’ve learned how to cope much better. I know that a present moment doesn’t define the future. That even if today I fall apart God will take me through even the lowest valley.

Now, I’m just beginning stage three which is learning how to live out my new normal. Time has taught me my necessary limits. Everyday I do whatever it takes to be the healthiest new me. In my mind and heart I’ve never felt stronger. I grieved for a long time the old me. I’m now celebrating the new me and what opportunities this season presents.

The new me knows how to thank God for every moment. The new me knows God wants to use all my pain to encourage others wondering if they can ever smile again. The new me is definitely broken, but in so many ways full of so much more joy and life. When I look back at where I’ve been I can’t help but smile. I can’t help but say what a mighty God we serve.

“…Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Trapped In My Body

40 Day- Day 13- Trapped In My Body

I’m not losing faith or hope in what God can do. However, there is some panic setting into my heart. What if this never changes this side of heaven? Will I continue suffering to this degree? Could it get even worse than what I’m feeling right now? Everyone of these possibilities frighten me to the core.

Every morning I wake hoping my body feels different than the day before. Every morning I wake I’m still very disappointed. The last few mornings have been as painful as ever. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve rested or taken it easy. My intense pain and itching are back in rare form. Something is not covering my pain like it was before. There is no price I wouldn’t pay to be cured of this madness.

I truly feel like a prisoner inside my own body. Everyday I lay on my side in the bed for 12-14 hours. For further relief I stay in the tub everyday for 3-5 hours. At best I have 5-6 hours of actual life. Basically every second of my life is built around my pain. I can’t get it out of my mind when it has such a painful impact on my body. I’m praying and praying for some relief!

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

40 Days-Day 2 The Pain Is Real

For so long I had such high hopes prior to getting my last caudal injection. A caudal injection is an injection into the lowest portion of the epidural space. A caudal steroid injection can help reduce lower back and leg pain caused by sciatica, herniated discs, bone spurs or other back problems. For me my pain is present is the worst in the lowest nerve roots of my spine. This area actually hurts worse now than four weeks ago when I got the injection.

It hurts for me to sit or stand any length of time. This pain sucks the strength, patience and joy right out of me. I’m so disappointed after waiting many months optimistic about this shot. I don’t understand as the caudal injection helped so much. The injection prior was given by a different pain specialist. But, this one has been a nightmare and very disheartening since the very day it was given.

The pain runs so deep. It’s hard for me to breath heavy, sneeze or cough. Any of these things escalate the pain which is consistently a 6 or 7 out of 10 without any assistance. All I know is it’s left me scratching my head for answers. This pain makes everything except sleep feel impossible. And, if not for my nighttime medications sleep would be difficult as well. I’m praying God will give me some rest and relief from this blinding pain. I can only take so long of this grinding discomfort.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.” Psalm 6:2

40 Days- Day 2 Early Morning

It’s six in the morning and God has my full attention. Instead of checking the latest Facebook posts I’m meditating on scripture. After all every word equips us most for the battle at hand. Every word is God preparing us for the spiritual battle at hand. One we can’t fully see, but we can feel. One we can’t battle with human strength, but it requires spiritual weapons God has given us.

So, I’m making sure I have packed the essential in my backpack. I’m standing firm in the gospel that I know has saved me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. My prayer life must be reactivated as I give God my petitions and thanksgiving. Reading, studying and meditating upon God’s word must come before reading the next news headlines. By faith I will march forward beyond every fiery arrow the evil throws my way. And, when I have know clue where to turn next the Holy Spirit will reveal, comfort, empower, confirm, convict, and compel me through this God led journey.

Today, I will see my first sunrise in quite awhile. I will take my first intentional walk in the early hours of this God made day. Lord, I give you this day. Use it to refine me into the man You created me to be. May walking close to you become a lifestyle not just a periodic event. I want to know You more. Show me how to sleep, eat, walk, talk, love, live, and lead in a way that most honors You. Help me to overcome anything the devil throws my way.

2 Corinthians 10:3-43 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.

40 Days Take Two

Written: 3/18/19

Here I am again right where I found myself eight months ago. Well, not exactly where I was but my I’m not far from it. The past few months has exposed just how far I still have to go. My body is still broken, my nerve damage is still life altering and I’m gasping for recovery momentum once again. The only thing that has changed is my ability to endure, regroup and believe God for my much needed breakthrough.

Now, there are several encouraging points as I begin another 40 day faith walk. One, I know what God can do in just forty days of total devotion to Him. Two, I know what I need to do as I get back to walking through this pain. The past experiences and trials have taught me well. Thirdly, I’m not just thinking about what I need to do I’ve already started doing it.

Besides obligations I just couldn’t relinquish I’ve daily been saying no to any unnecessary demands. I’m focused nightly on getting the rest my body desperately needs. I’m focused daily on keeping the boundaries that must now be my normal. I’m returning back to daily, intentional walking that the past has proven is critical to better days of health. And, I’m being completely honest with those around me concerning my constant struggle.

I know from before that this will not feel like a 40 yard dash. It will be a step by step makeover of obedience to God. God has once again told me to fast from all social media. That alone with disconnect me from too much of the culture and make me more in tune to hearing God’s voice. To crank things up I will get back to daily scripture meditation since it’s the primary way God speaks to us. Here I go again into familiar yet unfamiliar territory. Lord Jesus take me by the hand and lead me towards the path of healing and wholeness.

“Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:42

Update For Now

I won’t be posting things on here for quite awhile as I’m in another transition and healing season. I will post for now what I wrote yesterday and today so you have a little clue as to what’s going on with my faith journey.

10 Keys To Maintaining A Healthy Me

*These are things God has shown me I must do to live healthy. Maybe you need to write a top 10 list. I plan to print this out and keep it before me for constant remembrance!

1. Take medications the exact same time three times everyday. Missing my Neurontin and especially my CBD caplets has proven it can put me in a world of trouble with my nerve pain. I must pay careful attention to the meds in my hand before swallowing.

2. Keep my spinal cord stimulator on as high of setting as possible to cover the pain. Even if I have to turn it down due to over stimulation. That should only be for a few hours then I need to turn it back up. This unit for me is like oxygen to a COPD patient. If it gets derailed it’s going to knock the wind out of my sails.

3. I must proactively treat my dermatitis and dermagraphism. Outside of taking daily Zyrtec, Zantac, & Benadryl I must keep my hands and feet moisturized throughout the day. Avoid long periods of time in hot water. Shower as soon as possible after sweating a lot. Each of these intense itching conditions are stimulated by too much exposure to water, sweat, heat, or stress.

4. Make sure I get adequate sleep! My body has proven that I’ve got to get a minimum of 8-9 hours sleep per day. Take nighttime meds and be in bed no later than 10pm. If I’ve still not reached 8 hours sleep go back to sleep after taking morning meds except for emergencies. Don’t schedule any appointments in the morning that aren’t necessary in order to charge my body. Remember, without the proper rest my body is sure to fail me and things will roll down hill quickly.

5. Don’t over commit and stick to the following major priorities. Do what you know you have to do to stay healthy, love your wife, love your children and lead God’s church in a way that honors God. Stick to studying and preaching God’s word, loving and leading leaders, and keeping everyone focused on the vision. Everything else will have to come secondary in this season of recovery.

6. Don’t worry about what people may or may not think. All that matters is what God knows. Be honest with everyone about your limitations. When in doubt leave stuff out. You can’t save the world by yourself. You can’t counsel every individual, marriage or family. Simply embrace your new normal, draw clear boundary lines, and trust God to use your weakness for His glory.

7. Avoid super long days of intense activity. Anything longer than 6-8 hours of anything ministry or fun related has to be watched carefully. Time has proven that if I stay on my feet or sit any longer my body will crash for several days following.

8. Listen to your body. Proactively do what you know is necessary to counter any warning signs that have taken you down in the past. Step away when necessary and possible. Go home when you know it’s best. Say no to anything you can when you know it’s about to take your nerve pain to a severe level.

9. Keep Walking Daily as it’s proven to be one of God’s best medicines for me. Daily I must make take intentional 2-3 mile walks. This has proven critical for my body, mind, and soul. During this time listen to only worship music or God’s word being preached to my heart. This is best to be done in the morning time hours early as possible.

10. Position myself for continual counsel and coaching. Life gets most out of whack when you don’t have consistent life accountability, reflection, and growth. Keep letting God lead you first so you can in a healthier way lead others. Creating time for my own personal development is not selfish and critical when I’m a leader to so many.

Overall I know I’m a F.R.O.G.

Fully Reliant On God

Your Pain Doesn’t Change God’s Plans

The reason I ever started my Facebook Faith walking page was simple. I needed a place to safely express my pain. Not to wallow in it, but work through it. Because often it’s so unbearable and life disturbing that my sanity relies on it. My prayer has always been that my honesty would give others freedom to be honest. That my painful journey might encourage someone else through their life altering pain.

Anyone with chronic pain knows that you wake up to it, live with it, and go to bed dealing with it. There’s no time that you aren’t having to account for it. For me it’s affects my ability to lay down, sit up, stand, walk, run, drive, sleep, focus, spend quality time with others or accomplish most tasks. Honestly, I don’t have to move out of my bed to feel miserable down to my very core. I woke up this morning again just throbbing in pain all over.

The pain not only makes you feel terrible physically, but so much less of a man mentally. I still hate the word handicap, but in my heart I know it applies to me. Most handicaps are easy for others to see. However, chronic pain can often hide behind a smile in such a way that others can’t see your internal misery. Honestly, my body feels like it’s been in a recent bad car wreck. I hate how it makes me feel in every way possible.

Now, I also know God is not taken by surprise or allowing this for no reason. I’ve got to keep trusting in His higher ways and understanding. I’m praying earnestly that God will lead my every step, calm my nerves, and use my pain for His glory. This is certainly easier said than done. But, I can just be someone that preaches this stuff on Sundays. I have to choose to live it out desire how I feel Monday through Sunday.

“ 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

The Old Man Is Dead

This has been a very painful, eye opening week. Not because I’ve seen anything I’ve never experienced. Instead, I’ve simply experienced things I hope had gone away. It’s been nearly eight months since I had a week this bad. Long enough that I thought all my greatest issues must have gone away. Boy, did I get a major reality check.

You see, it doesn’t matter how many times a doctor tells you things will always be this way. Your head and heart struggle to accept certain realities. Who does want to hear that they have permanent, life altering health issues? That while there may be times my nerve damage appears under control it’s going to always be threatening my quality of life. I can finally say after three years and eight months it’s starting to sink in. I’m beginning to digest fully the painful truth my doctors have been telling me all along. I’m still kicking and screaming over it. But, Lord I’ve gotten the memo.

I had no clue how much my medications, spinal stimulator, and God’s grace were just masking the problem. I started feeling a little better and I just assumed I could go right back to life and ministry as I once knew it. This only led to me falling flat on my face. I’m still grieving the man I used to be. I’ve still got to communicate honestly to many the man I am now.

This pastor still cares as much as ever about people. But, this pastor can’t run around like he once could. This pastor still loves to counsel and encourage others. But, this pastor can’t do it the same way he used to do it. This pastor would still drop everything to run to anyone’s side who needed me. But, this pastor has to use great discretion and operate with clear boundaries from this point forward.

In order to be useful in any way I’ve got to give up my old ways. Those who truly love me no matter what will want what’s best for me. Those who only care about what I can do for them will probably have little use for me now. So, I’m doing my best to embrace my new normal. To take care of myself so I have a fighting chance to help others.

It’s a sad goodbye that didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of sleepless nights and tears. It took me dealing with constant pain day and night. It took me realizing that if i don’t let the old man go the new man will only continue to struggle more. It took me knowing that it’s just best that I’m honest with myself and others. I can only pray that those around me are understanding and willing to embrace this new man.

“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,” Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

Embracing My Weakness, Walking In Strength

Praise God my emergency 5mg valium and muscle relaxer settled my nerve pain and intense itching this morning. I fell asleep for 3 more hours after it settled me. I’m much more stable and things are at least back to bearable for now. When It has me in its vice grips it has me. It’s still shocking that it can even get that bad. It’s like being in a torment chamber.

From this point forward, I’ve simply got to respect my condition more. For the past couple months I got away from the basics of my recovery. I tried to return as much as possible to being the person I used to be prior to this life changing condition. I quit taking the daily intentional faith walks. I quit making sure that I was getting the mandatory sleep my body must have to even function. I quit living without the boundaries necessary to keep myself healthy.

Well, after a week of such hardship I’m returning back to the basics of my recovery lifestyle. God has taught me over time how to best cope and operate with this condition. This has not put me back at ground zero, but it’s God’s wake up call. For reasons I may not understand I’ve been allowed these obvious struggles. I won’t fight with them anymore, but I will allow God to fight for me. I will be more honest with others around me about my condition. I will live with the necessary boundaries needed for me to operate healthy. I will have to trust fully in God’s hands all the stuff I can’t do and I can’t control. While still believing God has things under control.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)(NIV) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect inweakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I Need Your Prayers Again

I’ve been off social media for several days just hoping to feel better. This entire week has been torture most of the time. Not only has my pain been just as bad as ever. My nerve related itching in my hands and feet has been awful. I’ve maybe slept three hours tossing and turning all night. Honestly, I’m hurting as bad as ever this morning.

Pretty much everything feels like it’s derailed me at this time. I’m doing the best I can to hold it together physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve not been able to get relief in the tub for a few days. Sadly, I can’t get in the water because it’s one of the things along with stress or sweat that ignites further my severe dermatitis itching. Even the returned pain in my surgical area elevates my itching.

If I had not developed such perseverance and coping from the past I would be in real trouble. If I didn’t know what God has carried me through in the past I would be falling apart. I’m just in another season of intense battle that has left my body feeling beat up in every single way. I have no human answer or doctor’s solution.

I feel like someone has kicked me relentlessly all over my lower back. The itching just won’t stop like fire ants that won’t go away. I’ve taken more medication that should have me out in due time. However, I desperately need your prayers once again as I can’t fight this battle alone. I know I will make it through somehow but I need the continued prayers of sincere believers everywhere. I’ve cried many releasing tears the last few days which were good for my soul. However, this painful storm just won’t leave me and has me so miserable.

“And now my life ebbs away, days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.” Job 30:16-17

Doing Everything I Can

I’m back in this all too familiar place. Everything near my lower back is aching relentlessly. My entire body feels like ants are all over me. The itching is so intense and just won’t stop. Sadly I’m now having to stay out of the tub that always soothes me the most. But, the water dries out my skin and flares up my dermatitis to even higher levels.

Today, was another tough day full of many aches, pains, and tears. The tears were actually a welcomed sight. I was long overdue for a good cry and it did settle me at the time. Now, I’m just waiting to see when this storm will pass. My health really limits every part of my life. I feel like everything is at a standstill and I’m in a miserable prison.

I did get out the house earlier to see my mom and take my youngest son out to eat. I’m glad I got out because these walls were closing in on me. Having our usual daddy day lifted my spirit and took my mind off the pain as much as possible. Too much time to think when you’re in pain is never a good thing. I just thank God for taking me through another day and calming my heart.

Early today I took only my second Valium over the past six months. That by itself shows how much God has carried me and kept me from going crazy. I will be going back to my dermatologist very soon. I’m just hoping they can give me something stronger to settle this nerve related itching.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14

Lord Help Me

Once again I’m laying on my side typing these words with one hand. Things appear to be moving from bad to worse. Shooting nerve pain is rushing from my feet into my face. Deep embedded itching won’t stop in my hands and feet. The pain and anxiety are rising by the minute. Turning down my stimulator yesterday due to over stimulation now appears to be a poor decision. Symptom management is all I can do right now.

If I’m honest there is just so much underneath the chaos. I’ve reached the max I can handle especially due to my health restrictions. My poor wife has reached her max as I can easily observe her extreme fatigue. We’re in the middle of major house renovations, high ministry demand, and keeping balance in a growing family of six. Yet, we all know life slows down for no one. Whether sick or well there always seems to be demands. Things you feel must get done and feel led to do.

However, you reach a point that you can’t ignore the blaring warning lights on the dashboard. If you don’t pull over soon for repair you will just be broken down. Therefore, I can’t ignore what’s going on within me or around me. I must prayerfully and proactively take care of myself. Keep putting myself in the healthiest position possible for healing. It’s so hard to even think your best when you don’t feel your best.

Fortunately, the past has prepared me some for these uncertain days. I know how to spot things quicker. I know when to reach for help sooner. I know how to cope with greater precision, honesty, and courage. Do I ever feel comfortable during these seasons of torcher? Absolutely not! Life is full of unexpected suffering that we all must learn to prayerfully process. No doubt I’m still a major work in progress.

“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

Pain Driven Words

Recently, I heard someone say “you can’t write a good song without a broken heart.” I have to say I can truly relate. Without my heartache and pain I would have nothing to write. Most of my words come from desperate places reaching for light. My words are driven by pain looking for hope. My pain drives me to be real and raw.

Now, I’m still learning that we’re all different with how we express pain. Some people just want to withdrew from everyone. You don’t what anyone to see your weaknesses too close. Others of us feel we’re in bondage until we get it out. We’re not looking for pity, but we’ve got to process things out loud. I know my prayer is always that God might use my pain to help someone else through their pain. 

Practically everything I’ve written the past forty months has been driven by pain. My pain keeps driving me to Jesus. It keeps changing my life perspective. My faith has been forced to grow wings as I fight demons from every direction. I still don’t have all the answers concerning my pain. But, I’ve learned to trust God no matter what pain comes my way.

“Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination, knowing there’s healing on the other side.”

Lisa Terkeurst

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

I Had To Step Away

The last two days have been brutal to my nerves. I clearly reached that point again where panic was knocking relentlessly at my door. The moment I realized I was drowning inside I hit the breaks on everything I could. Social media was the first thing that had to go. One, because I’m not healthy enough for much interaction. Two, I needed an extreme focus and connection with God.

In just twenty four hours my fasting from social media has paid off. I can hear God’s voice clearer. I’m forced to deal with the man in the mirror instead of just the next person in line to see me. I believe wholeheartedly that if a person is not healthy he can’t be very helpful. So, I will always take the necessary measures needed to catch my breath, regain my focus and find my healing.

During this time I can only interact with those who are good for my health. Those who love me despite what I’m going through right now. People who don’t just want something from me, but God’s best for me. There are seasons you just have to withdraw from the crowds and chaos. You desperately need to breathe in God’s presence, power, and peace. These moments must be intentional and often. You must do whatever it takes to rest your heart, mind, body and soul in the Savior’s arms. Otherwise, you are bound to become shipwrecked.

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

Here I Go Again

It’s Monday morning and the bees are buzzing all throughout my body. My nerve pain has reared it’s ugly head. Intense itching is running deep within my hands, legs and feet. I knew I was going to wake up to some pain. But, I’ve not dealt with such intensity of this itching in a good while.

Thank God my nerve related skin condition has been under control for the most part the past year. Yesterday was by far the longest time I’ve spent on my feet in well over three years. These moments run several things through my head. Thoughts that are bad and that are good.

One, I’m reminded that my condition still exist in great intensity. Two, I can’t help but wonder when it will get any worse and totally take me out of commission. Three, how amazing has God been at keeping my nerve damaged body under control the past several months. Four, I’m so thankful for all the good moments because these times make me totally miserable.

Overall, I’m far from panicking over my current situation. Fortunately and unfortunately I’ve been here many times. Enough to know God still sits on His throne. Enough to know God will give me break through relief in His perfect timing. In my mind, I’m still tempted to panic. But, in my heart I know it’s just another tough day that I can with God’s grace and strength endure.

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

Don’t Just Cry About It

I know they say grown men don’t cry. Well, if that’s the case I’m not grown. Because unfortunately I cry a whole lot. Honestly, just about daily these days. I’m certain I’ve cried many bucket loads over the last 25 years of ministry alone. For me it’s toxic to keep it all inside. After all, God made those tear ducts for a reason.

Over the years I’ve cried over many things. I’ve cried over every loved one that ever said a way too earthly goodbye to me. My heart has been crushed watching families and marriages fall apart. Tears have rolled over countless hospice patients that I only knew for months or just days. I’ve seen more heartache in one year than many will see in a lifetime. I’ve been called to come alongside brokenness, but often it breaks me down.

However, I’m not just going to sit there and cry. If there is a hand to hold, hold it. If there is opportunity to encourage someone, I’m going to do it. If someone doesn’t know Jesus I can’t wait to introduce them to my forever best friend. The tears may be rolling, but every moment offers a chance to help someone find a reason to believe and hope beyond their situation.

So, while your tears may be flowing uncontrollably don’t just cry. Turn it all over to Jesus and ask Him to use your heartbreaking situation to accomplish His greater will. Let God lead your heart every step through the pain. For, while we can’t see beyond the heartache God already can. The Bible clearly says that even when it feels God surely must have left us. He is closer than ever and will heal our broken heart.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Whether I Like It Or Not

I felt really good all day yesterday. Then, came the night and I began to hurt like crazy. I got in the bed very early hoping to stop my escalating pain. Evidently I was too far gone. I felt misery in my bones all through the night and even in my sleep. Of course, the outside colder weather doesn’t help all the metal planted within me. I woke up this morning just throbbing like it was my old days of misery.

Whether I like it or not my issues are still with me. Somehow my spinal cord stimulator and medications periodically give me the illusion that I’m far better off than I really am. Now, don’t get me wrong God has brought me a long way. I can stay focused longer and get around way better than months ago. However, thinking my body is not severely nerve damaged is wishful thinking on my part.

Here is the progress that makes all the difference. Compared to the past I’m not fighting with it. I clearly know God has a purpose for the ongoing struggle otherwise He would’ve already removed it. Not to mention I see how He is using it daily. I also know my limitations and will make any necessary adjustments. My peace and my purpose remain as I don’t have the anxiety attacks of the past. I’m just continually reminded that I’m not in control.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Reflection and Resolve at 44

Each day here on earth goes by so fast.

Surely life is a vapor and just won’t last.

My body fails me daily in fact very often.

Yet, I won’t quit fighting until I see a coffin.

I’m thankful for every struggle that I’ve faced.

I’m learning endurance and amazing grace.

God has proven His faithfulness time and time again.

All I see is why to trust Him from beginning to end.

My life revolves around telling others my story.

How Jesus saved my life so I’m giving Him glory.

I’m a son, brother, husband and even a dad.

I pray my life makes my Heavenly Father glad.

My life may be only beginning and halfway over.

Or my eternal transition is right around the corner.

No matter what I will seek to live each day.

As if my eternal appointment were today.

I’m So Disappointed

It’s been exactly 10 days since I got that most painful, pain shot. Remember the one that hurt so badly at the time of it. The one that stirred everything back up within my nervous system. The one that took me back down memory lane as I recently emotionally and physically crashed. The one that has continued to leave me disappointed.

I really hoped and thought that shot would relieve the pain in my lower back nerves. After all, twice before that particular shot had done just that for me. At that time, I was experiencing the best two weeks of pain relief ever during this 3 1/2 year journey. Even without the shot I was already ecstatic over my current relief. If the shot worked it was just going to be icing on the cake.

Sadly, the shot not only didn’t bring any pain relief, but has actually increased my pain. I have more throbbing pain in the shot area now. Plus, whatever was done stirred up all sorts of chaos inside my nervous system. My spinal cord stimulator has not been the same since that day. Both my legs are much weaker than before. My overall nerve pain is no longer under consistent control.

I really wish I would have never been touched. My new pain specialist really struck a nerve that made all my other nerves angry. I’m not mad at anyone, but I’m very disappointed with how things have worked out. I’m going to once again rely on the God of all understanding, peace and power. He has made a way so many times in the past. Why should I doubt His supervision and care now.

(Psalm 121)

“I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

TIME FOR A CHANGE

My life for way too long has been wrapped around constant ministry, managing my pain, and looking for any chance possible to spend with family. I rarely if ever watch one minute of television or do anything just to relax. Tonight, I’m going to soak in the tub, watch recorded voice episodes, go to sleep and get up whenever my body chooses. Then, tomorrow I will catch a few fish or do something else I will enjoy weather permitting.

I feel like I just won the lottery and boarded a free cruise ship. Honestly, sometimes you just have to hijack your life back from the devil. There must be scheduled down time to laugh, live, and not be consumed with the next too serious task. When we don’t do this for ourselves it’s nobody’s fault but our own.

If you’re miserable do something about it. If your life’s insanity keeps repeating itself change the way you approach life. I can promise you I’ve decided to get back to a balanced approach of Faith, Family, & Fun. I’ve fought all week towards this life regrouping time.

Life is too short to work all the time and chase what for many is the American Nightmare. So, tonight I’m stepping off that miserable bandwagon. I’ve got too much to enjoy sitting right in front of me. Too often I’m the only one that puts unrealistic expectations on my perfectionist self.

I’m 4 days away from turning 44. It’s time for me to figure out how to live life to its fullest. How to take time to smell the roses, visit my own family, and continue to do all I can to leave this world a better place. I will no longer be a slave to pure busyness and misery. This is the end of my passionate, heartfelt rant to myself. I pray this ignites a change in someone else as well who desperately needs it. God help us all to experience the fuller life you desire for us all in Christ.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10:10)

It’s Just Where I Am

To many looking on all they see is a healthy looking pastor. Someone they desperately need during their time of crisis. Someone they know cares deeply and would do anything to lead them towards God’s best. Someone who is willing to stop whatever he is doing to help them or their loved ones. Someone who has been able to do all of the above for a very long time.

If they had video surveillance they would find someone struggling more than ever to just get out the bed each morning. Someone still having to literally calculate every move due to my present health. Literally every minute nerve pain is running throughout my body like lightning. Yet, today alone I will still give all my heart in preaching a funeral and finishing up my message notes for this Sunday’s sermon. I still can get more phone calls and requests in one day than many will ever see in any one month.

I’m learning that no matter what is begging urgently for my attention I have to be honest about my present situation. Especially since I’m constantly one move away from being able to do nothing if I don’t. I literally say no to 9 out of 10 requests that come my way. Yet, usually by Sunday afternoon alone my week ahead is already full. Please understand that I love serving God and helping people. I wish I didn’t have a life altering health issue constantly limiting me. However, it’s just where I am and it may be how I have to operate the rest of my earthly life.

“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)

“Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)

I’m Not Gonna Lie

Maybe someone reading this needs to know you’re not the only one. The only one who feels like your life is upside down. The only one that feels emotionally, physically and mentally drained. The only one that is one step away from a total meltdown. You’re not the only one because I’m right there with you.

Now, I do want to say that I’m not fixing to jump off a cliff. No, my wife is not about to leave me and I’m not close to quitting ministry. I have cried several times today alone. Tears due to my physical exhaustion. Grief over my continuing health issues. Fatigue related to a nonstop house renovation, ongoing ministry demands, and a family that needs a healthy man.

I’m just not someone good at pretending. I never want to just survive, but I believe God wants us all to thrive. However, sometimes God gives us many warning signs that things need to change. That we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing expecting different results. That things must change for either a season or a reason. Most of all Jesus calls us to run to him for true rest. We may need a good nights sleep, but we definitely need soul rest only he can provide. I’m going to bed early and planning to wake with a new approach tomorrow. Maybe you need to run into his arms as well and let him teach you how to thrive again.

“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)

I Can Now Relate To Craziness

For the past 41 months I’ve been dealing with a severe nerve condition. I used to constantly pray that I could just bare the pain. I would beg God nightly for any rest possible. Finally those prayers were answered for the most part. Yet, the leftovers of my nerve damaged condition have been beyond troublesome.

Never do I know when my body is going to be vibrating within from my feet to face. In just a matter of seconds I can be extremely nauseous. Without warning all my ability to focus or even function is stolen away. Honestly, it’s like having an outer body experience. You see what’s happening but you can’t do anything to stop it.

This stuff is happening during Sunday sermons, important meetings, everyday life and anytime it chooses. It makes even the smallest task feel like the biggest ordeal. Tears can start pouring without warning. I feel like I have this crazy tick that makes me look like a fool. It’s so discouraging, distracting, and painful. I can’t control it no matter how hard I try. I’ve simply got to trust God to take me through it.

There’s gotta be a reason for this intense battle. I certainly know what it’s like to be fully exposed. To have things physically and emotionally that make you look like an absolute wreck. My compassion and grace towards others has reached a much higher level. And I’m more desperate than ever for others’ grace and compassion towards me.

“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)

When Your Best Falls Short

Today every fiber of my humanity was exposed. Without warning my health failed and my nervous system totally wrecked. My spinal cord stimulator obviously quit keeping my nerve damage under control. Which for me is like taking oxygen from someone with severe COPD. I felt like crying my eyes out practically all morning.

I preached the best I possibly could while barely able to see through the thick fog inside my head. Deep within I always strive for perfection, but today all I could do was rest in the perfection of God’s grace. Not for a moment was I comfortable. Not for a moment did I feel an ounce of confidence. But, sometimes you just have to rest in the competence that only comes from above.

You’re not always going to feel in control. You’re not always going to be able to rely on yourself. In fact, every now and then God must allow us to fall. To realize that apart from Him we can do nothing. Apart from Him we’re bound to fall apart. Trust me, I hate looking like a fool who is far from having it all together. However, I do understand that it’s very important we realize our total dependence on Christ. Something I’m not sure we totally can until we’re broken, shattered, and desperate for divine intervention.

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enables us to be ministers…” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6

This Pain Ruins Everything

By the grace of God my current pain didn’t ruin my entire day. However, there is only so long of this constant nerve cringing pain you can take. It’s like being constantly burned deep inside your skin. This nauseating sensation is running constantly throughout my entire body. It’s obvious that my stimulator still just isn’t in sync

I hate every second of feeling this way. It makes nothing enjoyable. You just want someone to hook you up to a constant flow of morphine. Whatever it takes to stop the pain you’re on board. No one can imagine what it’s like to feel like your nerves are on constantly on fire. Even worse that you have no idea when the flames will die down.

I just took medication that should put me out soon. I’m desperate for relief and sleep if I’m to preach back to back Sunday services. While I’m more than willing I wish tomorrow I wasn’t the preacher. I will have to rely completely on God if anything great is to happen. I will likely feel uncomfortable in my own skin the entire day. It will be a constant battle to focus, not flip out, and trust God is greater than my pain. Trust me, I’m not exaggerating in the least. I’m just forced to process this terrible pain and misery I would give anything to end. The only thing I have to cling to at this time is knowing God’s grace is sufficient despite my great weakness.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

My Current Cross To Bear

I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear. Shoot, I’m struggling admitting it to myself. However, for now my nerve pain is not under control. Maybe it never was like I envisioned it in my mind. I pictured it tucked away forever never to return with its misery.

I hate this miserable surge within me more than words can describe. My wife can’t cough and my dog can’t move around me. Not without every nerve within me jumping like someone with severe PTSD. I just sneezed and the intense pain in my lower back took my breath away. God knows I just didn’t see or want to see this reality staring me in the face again.

I guess I’m officially a member of the lifetime chronic pain club. Those who have to accept this misery as an ongoing part of this life. Doesn’t mean I have to like it. Doesn’t mean I have to let it steal my joy. However, I can’t live in denial especially in these uncomfortable moments. My prayers are constant for my stimulator to get back on track and my pain to get back manageable. It’s been this way for over twenty-four hours straight. I’m thankful for any rest God has given me so I can at least escape the pain in my dreams. Hoping I can give a much better report soon.

“At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly.” Job 30:17

The Pain Is Back For Now

While I’m typing this I’m just shaking my head in disbelief. It’s been almost exactly four days since I got my long awaited pain shot. As I said before the shot itself was painful. But, later after the shot it appeared greater relief was headed my way. However, I’m now hurting way more in the area I received the shot than I was before I got the shot.

I’m not talking just a little more sore either. I’m talking 200 percent more pain after the shot than what I felt prior to shot. What has made it so much worse I do not know. I’m praying it’s just some lingering affect from the shot. But, I haven’t hurt this bad any of the first three days after the shot. I’m so disappointed that I’ve increased my pain in the present.

Plus, my spinal cord stimulator has totally derailed. I’ve been buzzed and fried within all day long. I’ve turned it off for hours to let my nerves settle down. Even still I’m buzzing from my feet to my face. What has changed I do not know. But, my entire nervous system is a wreck and I don’t know how to get any of this back on track.

Please just pray my pain management gets back on track!

“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

Stay Alert My Friends

For reasons I don’t understand I’ve been in a constant battle recently. It’s been a battle of mind, body, and soul. I’ve been doing so well lately. Yet, out of the blue it appears the enemy has kicked me relentlessly from behind again. Isn’t that how it always seems to go down?
 
You start thinking everything is going to be smooth sailing ahead. As soon as your hardships let up you let up in your dependence on God. Satan loves it when we hit the spiritual cruise control button. When we think the worst is behind us so we let down our spiritual guard. When we think we don’t need to pray with quite the intensity as before.
 
While I know all these things I admit I’ve fallen prey to satan’s predictable shenanigans many times. Human nature kicks in and you start thinking you’ve got everything under control. You know you need God’s help, but you start relying on your own limited strength and wisdom. I’m just glad God always opens my eyes in time and draws me back closer to Him. It’s only there I find renewed strength, perspective, and peace again.
 
“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)

My Joy Has Returned

This is for the person who has lost all joy and just can’t see beyond the season. I couldn’t either for quite awhile.

It’s been building over the past six months. Not long ago I felt like I was dying completely inside. That there was nothing else I could do or that God might do. So, I picked up my white flag and waved my full surrender. I gave everything up to God, but I didn’t give up on God. It was at that point that God fully picked me up.

In my private journal I have over 180 articles no one has ever read. They describe a man who was just desperate for his joy to return. His strength was gone and his hope was fading. He just kept waking up each day seeking to take the next God led step. He cried a lot of tears and walked a lot of miles by cane. Slowly, but surely God kept rebuilding his strength and hope.

Now, I can truly say my full joy has returned. Yes, I’ve still got further hopes of healing. However, even if God does nothing further for me I have found greater joy than I’ve ever had before. This past weekend brought nothing but smiles to my face. The pain did not ruin my time with family for the first time in 3 1/2 years. It’s like being let out of prison for the first time. My newly turned 9yr old could see his daddy was much better. That God has restored joy to his daddy and his family. I will be forever grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health.

You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:1-5

DEAR SUGAR DADDY & MOMMA

Please read this if you care to know how sugar might be killing your body. I’ve been battling severe nerve damage throughout my body the past few years. Many things only God can change and heal. Slowly but surely God is showing me what I can change. Besides proper exercise and rest my daily diet matters greatly.

For quite sometime I knew I was seeing a consistent connection between excessive caffeine or sugar. For example, anytime I have more than two cups of coffee and especially any energy drinks my nerves crash later that day and for the next few days. Eating excessive amounts of sugar anytime literally leaves my body wasted. No doubt too much sugar and caffeine contribute to major inflammation in the body and nervous system.

I’m not sure I could have discovered this truth so clearly if not for dieting for a couple months. As soon as I tried to go back to eating whatever I wanted I ran into one of my biggest enemies. The cake and the donuts were delicious at the time. The next day they weren’t worth the obvious torture. The three different times I increased my sugar levels my body was beyond jolted. In fact, I had to spend the next 24 hours with vibrating nerve pain from both feet all the way into my face. All I could do was drink lots of water and pray.

I know without a doubt that sugar is very connected to my already severe neuropathy. I’m encouraging you to believe these truths I’ve discovered and that many have proven through studies. I can now walk right by those donuts or that cake because they fried my body. I leave you this quote I suggest you read below.

“The average American today consumes 53 teaspoons of sugar daily compared to the 1900’s when Americans consumed only two teaspoons per day! When we constantly expose our bodies to sugar on a daily basis, we are damaging our nerves little by little”

Dr. Richard P. Jacoby, author of Sugar Crush, explains how sugar impacts the nerves this way: “When you eat a diet heavy in processed foods full of wheat and refined sugar, your body is put on a glucose roller coaster. Because fiber has been stripped out of these products, the sugar inherent in all carbohydrates literally enters the blood stream in a rush. As your blood sugar spikes, most of the excess gets carried away to be stored as abdominal fat. While that’s happening, excess glucose still circulates throughout your body, attaching itself to protein and building up sorbitol in the cells, causing them to swell and compress the nerves.”

By God’s grace and discipline I’m still maintaining my 18 pounds of weight loss. I feel so much better with it gone. But, reducing my sugar intake has been most critical. Now, I’m actually considering what foods I eat and how they will affect my body. You can do it too my friend. Just choose to make one healthy decision at a time. FYI you won’t be seeing anymore cake eating videos.

“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

Painful Shot Update 2/19/19

Got my epidural injection this morning. It by far hurt the most ever during the actual process. I was not numbed beforehand even though I have been every other shot before. Sadly, this was a new place and we were all treated like cattle.

I just about came off that table it hurt so bad. Call me a wimp, but I did shed a few tears. I told the doctor I could feel everything hurting like crazy as the needle pressed against my tailbone. He said, “Well we’ve definitely found the right spot.” I said, “that’s great but you could still do a better job of numbing me.” All I could do was take deep breaths and pray for the pain to calm down soon.

This time I had to take a ride in the wheel chair for more than observation. Not because I couldn’t think clearly, but I couldn’t put pressure on my lower body. Even the antibiotic shot they gave me in advance hurt worse than any injection I’ve received the past four years. They had to give it due to all the hardware inside my body. The extreme pain in my hip came without any warning.

Overall, I believe this shot will be the missing piece of pain relief. I can’t use heat for at least 3 days which is tough. I can’t get in the bath to relieve my legs. But, I know the relief will come in the coming days or week. Knowing the relief it will bring makes the pain more bearable. Hoping to get some sleep and relief as I wrap my night up on some ice. Besides this temporary pain from the injection I’ve still been doing so well with relief. Thanks for all the prayers!

“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 Still Does Miracles

You are reading the rough draft of the introduction page in my future book. There were days I wondered if I could ever look forward to tomorrow. Honestly, I had long reached the point of feeling absolutely defeated. My greatest efforts seem to change nothing. My prayers were only whispers of desperateness. All I could do was believe God had a plan. Its a total understatement to say I was losing hope daily for three years straight.

Then, God stepped in and took me to higher ground. Exactly at the time I had fully reached the end of me. My body was collapsing. My heart and mind were beyond overwhelmed. In my greatest time of weakness all I could do was free fall into the arms of Jesus. You see, I gave it all up to the Lord. I said, “Do whatever you need to do and show me what I can do. I will do nothing less and nothing more than whatever you ask of me.”

I was prepared to walk away from pastoring my church and I was on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. I wasn’t sure how I could ever be the husband, father, son, friend or pastor I used to be. I figured the future held nothing but mere survival for me. That I just needed to accept the fact that my best days were behind me. Over time God has proven that was clearly a lie from satan.

Thank God I held on and sought to trust God. I’ve just continued to take the next God led step. In just six months, I’ve regained at least fifty percent more strength. I’ve traded in my walking cane for my own two legs that are getting stronger by the day. I’m back to walking miles per day and ministering to countless folks day and night. We just closed on a new home that meets all our families needs and more. We’ve literally not had our own home in 2,752 days. That’s 7 years and 6 1/2 months for a family of six.

Thank God, that was then and this is now. God has redeemed everything in my life. Life as a whole is looking up in every direction. Yes, I still have struggles, but we all do. However, where life finds me now is clearly a miracle compared to where I was in the past.

Until the I draw my last breath this side of Heaven I will testify loudly. To those feeling helpless I can tell them there is a helper. To those feeling defeated I can tell them there is victory. To those wondering how much more they can take I can tell them God will make a way. To those feeling hopeless I can tell them that hope can always be found in Jesus Christ alone.

No, I’ve not arrived to any place of perfection. Yet, when you finally read the book God has led me to write you will be amazed at the power of God on display in my life. I can’t wait to share so much more of the behind the scene miracles with you. Thank God for every soul that has prayed for me and God used to walk beside me through this journey.

“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

I Don’t Want To Feel Rotten

By the grace of God I’ve been dieting the past forty days. It’s a journey I only began in hopes of strengthening my core. My physical therapist said every pound lost would take some pressure off my lower back. So far I’ve gotten rid of sixteen pounds of pressure. I really have been feeling better. Not just about myself, but inside myself.

Today, I decided to treat myself to some sweet foods I’ve been missing. During the day I continued to limit my calories. This afternoon and evening not so much. After filling up on a lot of pound cake I followed that with some of my favorite chocolates. Well, needless to say I’m feeling stuffed. In fact, if I’m honest I feel really sick.

In past days this wouldn’t have stood out to me. But, this season in my life is different. Eating whatever you want really does make you feel rotten. Eating healthy and smaller portions feels so much better. I guess there is a lot of truth in saying garbage in means garbage out. I’ve decided I would rather feel good and look as good as possible. Tons of sugars and calories only flame up my nerve pain issues. I’m seeking daily to be in the best physical shape possible.

“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)

We All Need A Valentine

As Valentines Day approaches my gut tells me that somebody feels a little less loved. Whether it be because you’ve not yet found your true earthly love. Or for some reason you’ve lost your once true love. I know there are no words that heal a broken heart. I know we all have the need to feel loved in the deepest of ways.

I want you to know that you are dearly loved. By the maker of the sun, moon and stars. By the one who created you in His very image. By the one, who knows everything about you and is still crazy in love with you. By the one, who proved you are dearly loved when He gave up His only son to die on a cross for you.

This love is the only true love. This love is the only lasting love. No matter how you feel about your self worthiness. No matter what relationships happen or fail. Your savior Jesus Christ will always love you. His love will carry you through life’s most difficult and loneliest moments. His love will be with you for eternity should you choose to repent of your sins. Should you choose to put your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection. I pray you find that special someone you can call your valentines. But, realize none will ever top the depth of love found only in Jesus Christ.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

My First Real Flashback

I just left Shoneys in Walterboro after having my first real flash back in 41 months. The food was excellent, but the floor was a major threat to anyone’s health.

First, I walked up to the salad bar and almost slipped on the wet floor. Immediately, I went and got management that assured me the wet floor would be dried.

Later, I walked back towards the buffet another route only to almost shatter my already nerve damaged body. By the grace of God I caught myself. As I headed airborne I literally had to grab with both hands the table of some folks nearby.

In that moment, I came face to face with my past and present reality. How just someone’s negligence nearly 3 1/2 years ago has changed my entire life. You see, you don’t understand until it happens to you. Just someone failing to clean up drinks spilled gave me permanent nerve damage in nearly two thirds of my body. I literally bear this miserable cross everyday from sun up to sun down. In that moment, I just couldn’t allow this to happen to someone else.

So, I approached management again, but this time a response was not optional. I refused to be seated until someone gave that floor attention. The manager in no way recognized the seriousness of the issue. This time I actually slipped on sand that covered the floor. She said, “that’s what we’ve been told by DHEC to do when it gets wet.” I said, “Sand on a hard surfaced floor only makes things more slippery.” She smirked and still did nothing. I was beside myself because I actually realized it’s danger. I said, “I’m either going to have to sit here or block this area off. Because someone is going to get really hurt or possibly killed by this negligence.”

I discovered that many of the waitresses have realized it’s danger. One employee informed me that one man just slipped on the floor last week. He hit his head so hard it knocked him out and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I said “ and that wasn’t enough to wake somebody up.” It was made clear that they knew that the place needs to be shutdown for a week and the floors fixed.

Instead, I just watched them throw sand all over the ceramic tiles. My heart was pounding then and still continues now. I used to laugh about the commercial that said “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Until I fell and actually couldn’t get back up. It’s a life altering experience that can be worse than many car wrecks. I pray nothing happens to anyone around there. But, I will be making sure something is done to fix those floors. I can’t allow myself to do nothing when I know someone’s life could literally be turned upside down!

Pain Drains You

Been a long Monday for sure. My wife and I have been out together working on some things. Unfortunately, the pain in my lower back has only been escalating lately. I’ve felt more and more miserable with every step. Whether I like it or not this pain wrecks my life in so many ways. Especially when it reaches this level.

My poor wife has been putting up with a grizzly bear mixed with a pit bull. Severe pain just changes you and breaks you down to size. I’m still waiting on a shot I’ve needed for months to be approved. Not having this shot in a timely manner has only led to much further decline. I’ve not been happy at all with my pain management office.

I’m trying my best to rest this pain away. But, even lying down I still hurt so bad. My greatest nightmare is ever rolling back to where I’ve been. It’s in these times I must do everything I can to keep matters from getting worse. I must ask for prayer and patience from those around me. Hopefully this nauseous, draining pain goes away very soon.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

(Isaiah 40:29

My How Life Has Changed

I just finished preparing Sunday’s sermon entitled “Why Did That Happen?” It took me until 4am to complete. Why? Because preparing messages nowadays takes me twice the amount of time as before. Plus, I have to do things when my mind can actually focus and I’m not blinded by nonstop pain. Honestly, everything has changed in my life due to my chronic condition.

For instance, I can’t drive even one mile without my pain escalating. I can’t ever sit down somewhere without some level of discomfort. I can’t stand for more than 30 minutes before my lower back starts killing me. I can never just bend down to pick something up. Trying to tie my own shoes is still a very big challenge. Even lying down is never easy without heat or medicine.

To say my life has been drastically altered is an understatement. The medicine I take freezes my mind anytime it chooses. I haven’t gone to sleep without taking a muscle relaxer in over two years. My spinal cord stimulator does help, but you never know when it’s going to not be helping. Plus, the huge bulky battery implanted in my back hurts anytime it’s pressed against something. Basically, I have to keep a cushion behind me anytime I drive or sit.

Socially life has changed with family, friends, and ministry. I no longer get to just choose to see someone. I have to hope to feel good enough to get around anyone. My attitude and ability to process things are always affected by my condition. I’m still thrilled with my progress, but I definitely live with a handicap.

Now, my life perspective and faith level have changed for the better. I’m so much more grateful for the little things. I no longer try to do everything and I value others more than ever. I have way more compassion towards others who battle chronic pain or anxiety. It’s not always an easy thing to swallow. But, I’m truly learning to be content no matter what my situation. Overall, I choose to see my glass half full. After all, my doctor says I’m very fortunate to not be paralyzed or at least be in a wheelchair the rest of my life.

Well, I better get to sleep now. Otherwise I will have to get back in the tub for relief. While I needed to get my work done earlier my body always demands sleep the most. The crazy thing is I’ve not even scratched the service of saying how my life has been altered. My every decision still revolves around my health issues 24/7. All that said, I’m just glad to be alive and to know God is never gonna leave my side.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 20:23)

Always By My Side

Most of what I write is done on my phone with one hand while laying on my side. Once again I’m in my way too regular position. My nerves are flaring, my body is aching and I’m just a shell of my used to be self. Had I not been here well over a thousand times before I would think I needed urgent care. Hate to say it but I’m beyond used to this valley and wondering if things will ever change. I know things can be much better, but only God knows if this thorn in my flesh with ever go away this side of Heaven.

In the meantime, I take great comfort in a few things. One, I’m believing that God is using my nonstop discomfort to encourage someone through their struggle. Two, I’m believing that God is using this valley to develop me into the man of faith He has called me to be. Finally, I’m believing that God is still by my side every step of the way.

How can I not believe the latter of these three. If God’s not been by my side, then why has my life not fallen completely apart? If God’s not been by my side, then why have I not fallen completely apart? If God’s not been by my side, then why do I still feel His peace, purpose, and promise? I can tell you why my friends. God will never abandon one of His children. He will comfort, strengthen, and carry us all even in the darkest of valleys. Please trust every word I say because God’s proven this to me over and over again.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Back On Track

After a very long night and day I believe I’m back on track. My spinal cord stimulator was definitely over stimulating my body. It was turned off most of the day in order to calm the madness it was creating. Turning it off stopped the severe nerve surges, but my lower body pain increased. Even still, I can deal with regular pain any day over feeling like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown.
 
My spinal cord stimulator was reprogrammed this afternoon. Seeing as how this burst technology has only been around five years they are still learning how these new spinal stimulators work best. They continue to try new variations that have proven to help people keep their pain management most consistent. I knew when I got this implanted device that it was a man made work in progress. However, it’s well worth having even if it is unpredictable at times.
 
Right now, I’m just exhausted from so little sleep. Not to mention the extreme beating my body took all night. It’s like someone set you on fire within and burned every nerve inside your body. Afterwards, you just feel like your insides are smoking and singed. Only rest can bring the healing needed. I’m very grateful that God did not allow this level pain to linger. I believe that I’m right back on track with my pain management thanks to God’s quick intervention.
 
“And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Desperate For A Hand Up

I received a rare early morning call today from a dear brother in Christ. He had no idea I was struggling so much as I was perfectly fine last night. His call was in reference to other things, but God used him to speak truth in the midst of my pain. I told him I was struggling badly and needed his prayers. Immediately he began praying over the phone.

This man doesn’t have my exact battle, but a very similar battle. He prayed that God would give me patience as these moments can make you panic. He prayed that I could be calm and still before the Lord. He prayed that I would be reminded that God has always taken me through these painful times before. All of these words just confirmed that God was hearing my prayers.

It means so much for someone to love you in an understanding way. For others to pray for you when you can barely pray for yourself. I’m used to doing this for volumes of others. But, sometimes I desperately need this from others. It’s me, it’s me, it’s me oh Lord standing in the need of prayer. I’m grateful for those who stand in the gap for me. I know those prayers will see me through this storm. And these times will only make me more useful in reaching out to others.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

Hold Me Jesus

Sadly, a few hours of sleep later my nerve condition remains the same. All my wife did was simply open the bedroom door and my nerves ran absolutely wild. Just the screeching of a door made piercing pain run through both legs into my chest. Just her voice and my voice in response made my body hurt so much. It’s like I’ve got a strong magnetic field running through my veins. Like lightening struck and an internal transformer blew up within me.

I’m sure most reading this think I’m crazy. However, it’s the best I can describe the chaos that is my present reality. My spinal cord stimulator has to be out of whack. It’s the only thing that makes sense for these sudden issues. For so long it’s been very consistent in helping keep things somewhat predictable and bearable. Now, it’s obviously missing the mark.

I just turned the unit off to see if I’m being over stimulated. A little time without it running should confirm things. In the meantime, I praying ASAP someone can meet me to reprogram my stimulator. It takes them testing and tweaking several things in hopes of settling this storm within me. I do know this is not abnormal to happen periodically. I just didn’t see it coming at all and no longer thought I could feel quite this bad again. It’s not time to panic, but rather be still before the Lord. I appreciate your continued prayers!

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

In The Moment

In The Moment, you can’t see how this could be good for you.

In The Moment, you just want all the pain to go away.

In The Moment, you feel like nothing will ever change.

In The Moment, you aren’t sure you can deal with anymore.

In The Moment, your heart is anxious and your fears keep rising.

In The Moment, you just want to know everything will be alright.

So much goes through your mind. So much threatens your quality of life. So much is out of your control. To your knees you are driven. On your Heavenly Father you’re led to depend. You ponder so much in the moment. Yet, you’re so thankful for a place to turn in the moment.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

God Knows

I don’t understand what is going inside of me. It’s like I’m plugged into an electrical outlet. With no warning or request for my permission. My body just won’t quit vibrating and making me crazy. God knows I would give anything to get off this roller coaster of pain.

No doubt that God has used my pain many times. Even if it stopped for good it would be a part of my lifetime story. It’s refined my life in so many ways. I’m just trying not to let it define my life. In these moments my vision is so blurred and my insecurities revealed. I’m forced to feel naked and afraid.

God knows I hate this feeling. God knows I’m tired of this battle. God knows I trust Him with this battle. That my body is weak, but my spirit is wiling. God knows what He is doing even when I have no clue. I just have to once again free fall into His loving arms.

“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

I Should Have Known

I’ve been experiencing some major spiritual breakthroughs recently. God has been at work in mighty ways both in and around me. Things I’ve prayed about for so long. Dreams God gave me years ago have finally been coming true. It’s no coincidence I just ran into another flaming struggle.

I hate this feeling so much. It’s like someone flipped a switch within me. Evidently they moved it from calm to crazy. My body hurts so bad. My nerves are skyrocketing. My heart is pounding as I just didn’t see this coming. Satan is really trying to rattle my cage.

This is always the pattern of things it seems. You have one major breakthrough and then it’s followed by some major breakdown. In these moments I feel so misunderstood and powerless. My own wife has seen this happen over and over again. Yet, even she can only observe something I could never fully explain. I’m holding on to the Lord with all my might. I thought I was alright over an hour ago. Yet, here I am again in the flames of great anxiety and pain. I must be still and let God fight for me. I once again need His calming touch to make it through.

“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)

Back For The Moment

Like a cancer that just won’t go into remission. Like a nightmare that just won’t go away. The nerves within me are back to running wild. Something is not holding like it has been. Nothing evidently has been fixed within me. God has just been keeping things under control for awhile.

Those who have followed my story the past few years remember my struggles. You remember when I felt like a total nervous wreck. You remember all the mornings, days and nights I was desperate for sanity. How I would try my best to describe the absolute war going on inside my body. Well, the war has once again reared it’s ugly head.

Ever since this morning I could feel electricity running through my veins. Just a simple movement or sound nearby makes painful vibrations run throughout my body. Even my own voice makes my nerves radiate within me from my feet to my face. My spinal cord stimulator must be out of rhythm. Or some medication that’s been working before just isn’t keeping my anxiety levels in check.

Either way I’m having to feel that old familiar struggle again. It makes me feel so miserable, out of control and scared. Fortunately, time has proven that God always has a plan to see me through this seasonal storm. For that reason alone I can still find hope and peace. I always hate how this makes me feel. But, I know I’m not alone in this storm.

“But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.”

Psalm 77:11

I’ve Gotta Praise Him

I bought a new Bible a few weeks ago. This time I got the large print. I finally laid to rest my previous study bible I used for over twenty one years. I used to call that totally worn out bible “Watermelon.” Why? Because I love watermelon and I couldn’t wait to eat every word in God’s book. I’m finding my new bible is just as tasty and full of God spoken truth I need to digest.

I started out reading letters like the books of Timothy and Titus that were designed for pastoral leaders. Now, I’m reading through the Psalms one by one. I can so identify with the Psalmist’s distress and desperateness. Just months ago I was about to throw in the towel on everything. My pain was paralyzing and my will to fight was fading quickly. All I could do was beg God to intervene on my behalf.

Praise God every prayer lifted has now been answered. My enemy the devil is underneath my feet. My health has drastically improved. My family will soon have a new home to move into. I just want to testify that God is good, faithful, and worthy to be praised.

“You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock! May the God of my salvation be exalted.

(Psalm 18:39, 46)

One Of Those Days

Had one of those days you just survive. Started off with very little sleep. My body has ached intensely all over inside/out. It’s like someone pouring a cold IV throughout my nervous system. My dermatitis has kept me itching. My anxiety has risen as satan tries to tell me I’m quickly rolling backwards.

On the way to my physical therapy appointment my tire blew out. Once I got to therapy I was too bad off to do anything. Found out I’ve got to wait a few more weeks to get a pain shot I’ve really needed for a few months. The pain has hindered my ability to focus on anything when I’ve got so much to do.

On top of it all I can tell that so many of my friends are struggling. I want to help them all so much. But, one thing I’ve learned is you can’t be very helpful if you’re not very healthy. So, I’ve taken all my nighttime meds, turned on my heated mattress cover, and I’m seeking to get the rest my body needs.

I sincerely pray for any of you going through something tough in your life. I can assure you that with God’s help you will get through it. I’ve never put my little hand in His big hand that He didn’t take me through whatever valley. It’s not always easy, but His faithfulness is certain. God bless everyone of you.

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

Reasons For Concern

Mornings and evenings are usually my most uncomfortable times. Not only is my pain increased, but the itching is so intense. My dermatitis returned nearly two weeks ago seemingly out of nowhere. However, the past week has been the toughest by far. I can’t begin to describe the torturous pain that goes so deep within my skin. Nothing seems to make it totally go away long.

The added Benadryl prescribed by my primary physician has only been able to contain the fire. I’ve got to get back to my dermatologist to see what can be done very soon. I won’t be surprised if this must be treated with some special antibiotic and injection. Whatever needs to happen I pray it takes place soon. Even the pain in my overall body has not been trending the best direction lately as it can quickly feel like I’ve been kicked repeatedly by a steel toe boot in my lower back.

As thrilled as I’ve been by recent improvements I know that respecting my condition is critical. I do know I’m long overdue for another pain shot, but I’m still awaiting insurance approval. I may be running out of borrowed time that I can wait for that much needed pain relief. I’ve only had two decent nights sleep the past nine nights. Please pray my sleep pattern changes and I find a little more relief from this painful itching very soon. My lower back pain has moved up a few notches the past week and I’m trying not to be too anxious. God only knows the solution and the root of my increased discomfort.

“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)

Back In The Game

I went back to my primary doctor yesterday urgent for relief. After 4 terrible nights of sleep and itching. My intense itching has gotten back under control and I was able to sleep over 10 hours. Having to take several Benadryl at night, apply hydrating creams during the day , and stay away from certain foods and substances. I’m thrilled to be back on the high road. I feel great again!! This dermatitis is just something I will have to respect and treat with medication for life I assume.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

The Attacks Are Relentless

The itching in my hands and feet right now are relentless. I’m not talking about just on top of the skin. I’m talking about an itching sensation that feels like it’s inside my very bones it’s so deep. It hurts so bad and the pain is piercing. I’m definitely going to some doctor first thing in the morning.

I’m fairly certain this is related to my diagnosis of dermatitis and dermographism nearly a year ago. Remember, when I would break out all over and not even know what was happening. And, I would especially hurt intensely in my hands and feet. Crazy thing is there is nothing showing on my skin whatsoever. However, the intensity of the itching is as strong as ever.

I just got back to where I could sleep and my nervous system was settled. Yet, the past week this has been building off and on. However, it’s now officially a full blown wildfire inside me. I’ve taken Benadryl on top of my daily Zantac & Zyrtec prescribed in the past. I can’t put into words how bad this hurts. I will get help ASAP and I know God has a plan. Please pray I get relief and the right injection or medication very soon! My hands feel so raw and this stuff could truly make you go insane.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I Feel So Much Better

I got back on my CBD 15Mg caplets around noon today. My body has felt totally different and under control ever since. This stuff has changed my life so much. Here is a link to the exact stuff I use for anyone who may want it. Here is where we will orders our from now on…..

https://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/cv-sciences-plus-cbd-oil-gold-15mg-60softgels

16 Days Of Discipline

I’ve officially been on my diet for 16 days striving to take any unnecessary pressure off my lower back. During this time I’ve only eaten an average of 1367 calories daily. I’ve walked 5.8 miles daily. I’ve now lost a total of 8 1/2 pounds of my 20 pound goal. I’ve done my physical therapy exercises daily and I’m stronger than I’ve been in over 40 months. God is good and greatly to be praised!

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

CBD Caplets Work

There is now no denying how much my 15Mg CBD caplets have helped in changing my life. I typically take two caplets daily. One at 7am and the other at 7pm. This past week I was out of town on a much needed spiritual retreat. In the meantime, my first 30 day supply of caplets was running out quickly. Time snuck up on me and I was not able to get anymore before they ran out this past Friday. I will not be able to get anymore until my pharmacy opens back up on Monday.

In the meantime, just 48 hours without my CBD caplets has proven costly. Even using my CBD oil twice a day has no shot at replacing the difference the caplets make. I just can’t deny how much has changed shortly after I started taking these caplets. Just 3 days taking the caplets I was able to drop an anxiety medication I had been taking over 3 years for my lower body nerve damage. Just a week after I was on the caplets I officially said goodbye to my walking cane. I mean never looking back. In 30 days since the CBD caplets I’ve walked over 146 miles.

In just 48 hours without these caplets my body is in obvious disarray. My pain has ramped up, my nerve pain is flaring, and I can’t sleep. While I didn’t plan this to happen I’m glad it did. I now officially know that it was not all in my head. The CBD caplets truly have been a game changer. I literally have not felt this pain or nerve sensations in a month. For anyone with severe nerve damage I would highly recommend trying them. Realize it does matter that you get them from a trustworthy source. Without proven potency they won’t make a difference. Now, I just pray I can endure Sunday without this critical, life changing supplement. I can promise I will never run out of these caplets again anytime soon!

P.S. Yes, God does use medicine to perform miracles too! Especially stuff he created in the first place.

Take The Next Right Step

When I say my life of recovery is all consuming I promise that’s not a lie. From sun up to sun down I keep seeking to take the next faith step. I track every step, watch every calorie and monitor my nightly sleep. I make sure my spinal cord stimulater stays on track and my heating pads are always beside me. I now limit my online time so that I can spend more time seeking God. I just finished up a 45 mile walk week. Over the past 6 months alone I’ve walked over 850 miles and taken nearly 2,000,000 steps. I’m may not feel perfect, but oh how far God has brought me.

I’m living proof that if you do your part God will do the rest. If you put your little hand in His big hand. He will take you further than you can ever dream of going by yourself. It’s not overnight, but one faithful step at a time. Yes, I admit that I was very afraid in the past. Why? Because I just didn’t know if things could ever get any better.

Now, I’m hopeful everyday can be better than before. All I did six months ago was fully release things into God’s hands. I said, Lord I will do whatever it takes to move forward. I didn’t know where that would lead, but I trusted my all knowing, all loving, all powerful leader. God has not disappointed or abandoned me. Instead, He has picked me up and taken me up a hill I could never climb alone. I encourage you to not give up. Instead, give things up to the Lord and trust His miracle ability.

“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 don’t give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day. Our troubles are small. They last only for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles. So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. That’s because what can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

A Mutual Blessing

I’ve been out of town all week seeking God’s face over all matters in life. On my way back home I stopped at a Dollar General. There I saw a man who I could tell was struggling to make it. I spoke up at the check out line “I’ll take care of his stuff mam.”

The 58 yr old man said, “How ya gonna do that it’s paid for?” I said, “mam can you refund him and then let me pay for it all.”

He says, “you’re serious aren’t you sir? I just did this for a lady recently at Christmas who couldn’t pay for her stuff”

I responded, “Well God’s love has a way of coming back full circle. Trust me, I’ve experienced it myself.”

As the lady processed his refund tears ran down his face. He said, “I’ve never had anyone do something like this for me. How did you know I was having such a tough time?”

I said, “God knew and just used me to bless you. He was tugging at my heart the moment I got near you in the checkout line. It’s my joy to be His vessel as He has used so many in my life.”

After I threw in a bonus gift card I literally thought this man was going to pass out. He said, “I will always remember this day. It’s one of the best days of my life. I lost my wife two years ago. She died in the bed right beside me and we always used to help others. This is the first time somebody actually helped me.”

I gave him info of ways he could listen to my messages online and read my blog. But, I can promise you he had zero interest in hearing what I had to say until he knew how much I cared. I encourage you to open your eyes, heart and when necessary your wallet. One act of obedience can lead to a whole lot of joy. Not just for the other party, but especially for yourself. God is so awesome and loves to give good gifts to us all. But, one of the greatest joys is being a vessel He uses to give good gifts to others.

“…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

Cuts Right Through Me

Waking up for me lately has been very painful. The cooler weather gets my strong attention around 4am. For the next few hours my body screams for mercy while my mind tries to continue sleeping. This tug of war continues until I’m finally forced to get up.

I hate this feeling more than anything. Somehow the throbbing in my lower back nerves sets off a fire throughout me. It feels like ice is running throughout my veins making me very nauseous. Somehow, this chilled weather cuts right through me. In fact, it exposes my humanity to the fullest.

None of us like to be cut down to size. After all, you don’t really know what you’re made of until something cuts right through you. It’s only then you realize how merciful God has been all along. That you can’t even walk unless He is holding your hand. The pain sets off an alarm within you. This alarm reminds you where your true strength and help come from in life.

“This High Preist of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faces 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 the most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

Not A Good Night

Last night I took plenty of meds to help me sleep. Well, they definitely helped me fall asleep. But, my body woke me up in the middle of the night. It was as if I was a large wind chime. The colder air just blows clean through my nerves. Even with a steady temperature inside my body can feel the change in temperature outside.

Daily, I deal with this piercing feeling that only my stimulator and medication can try to keep in check. Once it gets worked up it just doesn’t quit. Keeping a heating pad directly on my lower back does usually calm the madness. There’s no denying that any change in temperature drastically affects me for good or bad. Actually, any cold breeze, loud sound, sudden movement or anxiety can kickstart my nerve pain into high gear.

I really need another pain shot, but my insurance won’t approve it right now. I’ve got to complete at least six physical therapy sessions before they even consider it. Life is full of seasons that bring ups and downs. For me the colder seasons are definitely harder for many reasons. Yet, God continues to give me the resolve to keep pressing towards my goals. Heading out to walk with a friend now.

“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.” (Philippians 3:12)

Momentum Is A God Thing

Overall I’m in a really good place mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. There’s no denying that all these areas are affected by each other. For so long I was just holding on by a thread. Honestly, so worried that I couldn’t hold on much longer. You just reach a point where you can’t take anymore pain.

After countless attempts I really didn’t believe I could ever regain my recovery momentum. The only momentum I had was continuing to roll backwards. I was watching things cave in and felt paralyzed towards doing anything about it. I cried and prayed many a day. Just hoping God would put new wind in my sails.

Then, seemingly overnight God began to change things. He opened windows of relief and I dove through everyone of them. I just kept taking the next right step forward. Now, I’m the strongest I’ve been in 40 months of this battle. My eating, walking, and exercise habits are back on track. I’m getting adequate sleep and making healthy daily choices in regards to my condition. I still have so far to go, but I can only credit God for how far I’ve come. I’m still praying God might use my ongoing journey to inspire others through their valley of pain.

“That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure. Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing. (Philippians 2:13-16)(The Message)

Pour Through Me Lord

For many Sundays is their greatest day of rest and renewal. For me, it’s my greatest day of battle. It’s a day I know will take everything I have to give and then some. It can feel like a million demons are coming my way at once. Usually by the end of the day I’m totally depleted mentally, emotionally, and now always physically.

Yesterday was certainly no exception. When I finally got home early evening my entire body was screaming for relief. I knew then it would take a couple days to recover. Even still I have great peace because I know I’m seeking to be faithful. I know God uses our faithfulness in ways we can’t see or understand. I hate how my body and mind feel, but I’m so grateful to be one of God’s ambassadors.

My body woke me up early this morning aching badly from this colder weather. I’m praying I get some much needed recovery rest. I’m headed back to physical therapy this afternoon. I keep doing all I can while trusting God for all I can’t. Satan is always trying to get into my mind. He needs to realize my resolve is set on trusting Jesus every step of my life.

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” (Philippians 2:17)

Continued Strides

By God’s grace alone I’ve not missed one day of physical therapy this past week. Also, I averaged walking 4.5 miles per day. I can feel my strength and stamina increasing by the day. Also, started dieting yesterday and I’m aiming to lose 20lbs. It’s my only other chance mixed with strengthening my core to relief pressure off my lower back. Gotta keep aiming for the next goal and taking the next right step.

I may not rid myself of all the pain, but I’m going to do everything I can to believe God for change.

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)

Because Of The Struggle

The battle I went through the past 3 years was the worst days of my life. I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. I had so many days of fear, grief and despair. I really didn’t know what the future held. All I knew was the time being missed with my growing family was killing me. Not to mention the fact my pain was breath taking so much of the time.

When my battle began my boys were ages 16, 14, 12, and 5. During the time my life seemed at a standstill they grew to be 19, 17, 15, & 8. I can’t make up the time that was lost. I can’t worry about things I couldn’t control. I can and will make the most of the time and health God has granted me now.

Because of the struggle I now treasure every God-given moment. Because of the struggle I’m a more engaged dad. Because of the struggle I’m so grateful for my precious wife. Because of the struggle I’m much stronger and so is my faith. Because despite the struggle God took me though it and to solid ground.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” (Psalm 40:2)

Quality Family Time

It’s been quite awhile that all three of these words have lined up. I really can’t remember one family getaway the past few years that my health hasn’t ruined. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop my neurological breakdowns. Well, God has changed things and I’m able to enjoy time with my family. I’m praying this is how 2019 will continue.

My new meds have once again totally calmed my nervous system. Besides some soreness from my newly started therapy I’m doing well. My mind and heart are so settled by this new season. I know my wife and kids can clearly see the difference in me. Before the volcano of nerve surges within me could erupt with little to no warning. This has not been the case for at least two weeks.

I’m out of town with my family now for just a couple days. We’re having a very good time together. It feels so good to say I’m involved. That I’m looking forward to something. That I’m able to enjoy priceless moments with those I dearly love. The devil may have stolen my joy in the past, but the Lord has restored my joy in the present.

“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

Don’t Give Up

Waiting on my morning meds to kick in. My body reminds me constantly it’s extremely nerve damaged. Sure, I would love to ignore the pain. However, it’s impossible when it’s running throughout my entire body. At it’s worse it feels like a very painful liquid shooting throughout my veins. It can drain me very quickly especially when combined with extreme lower back pain. No doubt I’m long overdue for my upcoming pain injection.

Now, I have been much more active recently than in the past. I do a few specific physical therapy exercises every morning. I walk several miles more per week than I had been doing. There’s no doubt that my nerves are angry and stirred up. Not to be overlooked is the fact my legs are still getting used to carrying all my weight. I’ve only been without my cane for six days.

It’s critical that I maintain consistency daily. But, it’s also critical that I keep respecting my body’s limitations. There is no doubt that healing takes time. Certain healing can’t be forced no matter how hard you try. I’m definitely uncomfortable, but I’m also still very hopeful. I just have to keep asking God for discernment on what I can and cannot do. Well, I’m going to try and get some more rest. I haven’t been resting great lately and I know that is key to my healing. Fortunately, my meds are starting to help ease my usual early morning discomfort.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

11 Days Changed

Eleven days ago my life changed. It was my first appointment with my new pain specialist. It had been at least two years since the words hope and doctor were said in the same sentence. I was only at this appointment to get a referral for another pain shot. But, I would leave this appointment with hope beyond what I could have ever imagined.

The doctor spoke with great compassion and confidence. He said, “I believe I can give you pain relief that you’ve never experienced.” I’m thinking “that’s what he thinks. Doesn’t he know my medical records for the past three years alone are 700 pages long? Doesn’t he know we’ve already tried everything and everyone under the sun in hopes of fixing me?” I just respectively listened with absolutely no optimism at that time. It had nothing to do with this doctor. But, I truly had given up hope that man could do anything more or me.

Now, I will be getting a pain shot very soon. However, I don’t have to rely on that for my only hope. I left that day with it. The doctor told me to start taking 15mg CBD Soft gels that morning. By that evening I knew it was making a difference. Honestly, my pain has been manageable ever since. For eleven days straight I’ve felt this hope.

Honestly, I feel at least twenty-five percent better than before. In just eleven days so much has happened. One, my strength and ability to focus on things other than pain. Two, I dropped a medication I had been on for the past three years. Three, my greater strength and pain management has allowed me to start back physical therapy. Finally, after seven months of using a cane I’m a free man. I’ve been standing on just my own two legs for the past four days.

Even with discomfort and pain I can’t help but smile. God has been so good to me! God has blessed my faithfulness under trial. He didn’t have to, but He chose to. I was so close to quitting everything months back. I had given up hope that things could get much better. Next thing I know God proved me wrong and I’m so glad He did. Listen, don’t give up hope no matter how things look or feel to you. Keep taking the next right step no matter what and God will bless your faithfulness.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Where Are You Headed?

This past Sunday, I preached a message God clearly spoke to my heart. Prior to God giving me this message I was very busy. Busy sitting in my bed writing a page full of things I hoped to accomplish in 2019. I was doing my best to create goals and then set out to reach them. God showed me there was nothing wrong with my effort, but my pre-approach needed some work. God pointed out four things I needed to consider before I created my goals for 2019.

#1 We All Need Clear Goals.

Zig Ziglar says, “If you aim for nothing you will hit every time.” Many don’t make resolutions because they’re afraid to fail. Well, to not create clear goals makes you bound to fail. You’ve got to set clear targets on a wall and then aim daily towards reaching them. You’ve got to discover where God wants your life to head then determine to head for it.

#2 You Need Worthwhile Goals.

Don’t get your bucket list mixed up with God’s hope list. Maybe you do need to eat healthier and exercise. Maybe you do need to quit certain habits. Maybe you do need to let the past go and start living life to the fullest. Maybe you do need to reconnect with your family. Maybe you do need to find a good local church. Whatever your goals make sure they are most worth your time, talents, and resources for the glory of God. There’s nothing worse than wasting life on the meaningless while missing out on the meaningful.

#3 You Need Prioritized Goals.

Listen, your highest prioritized goals dictate the majority of your life. For example, if I’m most concerned with having material things it can drive me to work all the time. If football is my highest priority it can take the place of my faith and pull me away from my family. You need to establish a clear top three goal list. For me, God revealed three things I needed to focus on most in this order. In 2019, I plan to stay focused on growing my faith, loving and leading my family, and investing in the lives of others. Now, I have many other detailed goals. But, none are greater than those things. My established priorities will dictate my life for good or bad.

#4 You Need Foundational Goals.

We live in a dream world. A world that makes up its own relative truth. Too often our God is our gut. We are let more by our feelings than our faith. Listen, make sure that anything you pursue is God approved. How do you do that? You open up the word of God. Because, you can’t know the clear will of God without knowing the word of God. God’s word should guide and filter every decision you make. Otherwise you are building your life, your marriage, your family, or your future on shaky ground. God’s word reveals we need clear goals, worthwhile eternal driven goals, prioritized goals, and goals that are grounded in God’s truth. To hear Sundays entire sermon go to http://www.RefugeChurch.org.

(Philippians 3:12)(NIV) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

(Proverbs 19:21) “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.”

Throughout January 2019 I will be preaching a series called “Goals” at Refuge Church. If you don’t have a church home I would love to invite you to mine. We have services 9:15 & 11am. I promise you will feel right at home and glad you came. We’re located at 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro, SC.

Dear Weary Soul

Whatever you do don’t stop reading this article. I know you’re overwhelmed. I know you don’t know how much more you can take. I know you just wish all the pain and suffering would immediately come to an end. I know you’re just desperate for relief, comfort and peace.

How do I know? I was right where you are for the longest time. For over 3 years straight I felt I was just one step away from totally losing it all. Just six months ago my wife asked “don’t you think you can get any better?” As tears ran down my heartbroken face I said what I never had before. “No, they can’t get any better. I’ve done everything I can to overcome my condition. Nothing has changed and nothing more will change.” We both laid in the bed that night feeling hopeless about the situation.

All I could do was keep the faith that God would hear my cries for help. That God would somehow intervene and save the day. I’m here to tell you that God did. I finally gave it all up to Him and kept doing all I could do to be faithful daily.

Hope has come! Peace and comfort now resides with me day and night. I’m so thankful for the struggle because it helped me see firsthand the power of my savior. My friend the same God who intervened for me will do the same for you. Don’t give up! Just continue to keep giving it up to a God who cares and will see you through this valley.

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

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Can’t Go But Up

Well, I went to my first physical therapy session in forever this afternoon. My new therapist is very competent and compassionate. I shared with him my up and down journey. We reflected on lessons learned in the past. We looked at what the best approach was for me.

After testing my strength from head to toe one thing was obvious. Every muscle within me has been on a shelf for a long time. That one suffering body part has caused every other part to suffer. For so long I’ve just stayed away from anything that might cause me more pain. My fear of the slightest flare has kept my entire body hostage. There’s no part of me that isn’t at the lower level of strength.

The good news is I’ve got plenty of room to get stronger. I know in my heart things can only get better. I’ve got a list of exercises I will do every morning. We will take this rebuilding priceless methodically slow. I will meet with therapist weekly for the next fifteen weeks. I told him that he doesn’t have to worry about me doing my part. I still believe I can improve, but I’m realizing this will not happen overnight. Even still, in just two days of no cane my legs feel much stronger. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in this next 3-4 month chapter of sweat and prayer.

“If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. If one part is given special care, the other parts are happy.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

Another Big Step Forward

As today nears an end I have to celebrate. For over seven months straight I’ve been relying on a cane to take pressure off my legs and keep me from falling. I’ve used it so much that my wrist is giving me fits and my legs have gotten even weaker. I’ve known things have to change if I’m to regain any of my leg strength.

Today, I’ve gone all day without using my cane for first time. Yes, my legs are achy, heavy and weak. I feel like you’ve taken me out of a wheel chair. My legs are getting back used to carrying my full weight. I’ve had no falls or concerns about falling all day. With every step freedom is breathed into my heart.

Tomorrow afternoon I start back physical therapy. I’ve not done any therapy in well over a year. I’m so excited to get back to strength training. I plan to give everything I’ve got to further my recovery. My Stimulator and CBD are still keeping my pain very manageable. I know this therapy will stir up some nerve dust within, but I’m so hopeful for further progress. The more I ponder where I’m at today I can’t help but praise God!. Six months ago I thought I was totally down for the count. Yet, God continues to pick me up and take me further.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” (Psalm 40:2

Gotta Keep Pressing

Sunday’s church services followed by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day wore out my body pretty good. However, I got just the refreshment needed. Last night I slept 10 and 1/2 hours all together. Every joint in my body was singing Hallelujah. I woke up knowing I needed to seize every opportunity to keep pressing forward.

For Christmas I received several gifts I greatly appreciated. However, I’m really excited about things that help me continue to walk. My in laws gave me some nice gloves that are much needed during this cold season. My parents gave me some really nice wireless earbuds. My wife gave me some advanced technology heating pads that don’t required electricity. Today, I enjoyed walking over 4 1/2 miles through one of my favorites walking trails. While I’m very tired now I can tell the walking did such good for my body.

I can really see my progress with the hope of more to come. I’m back walking on a consistent basis. I’m walking much of the time without the assistance of a cane. This coming Friday, I start back physical therapy which I know is going to help me. I’m approved to go to 17 therapy sessions. I’m also still awaiting insurance approval for another lower back pain shot. Four days ago I quit completely taking Amitriptyline which I’ve taken for nearly three years straight. My CBD has really given me the boost I needed to overcome this recovery hump. I’m far from where I want to be, but I’m so glad that I’m not where I used to be. I will keep pressing with all I’ve got forward by faith!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

 

 

Rescued From A Well

I remember seeing on live television a disturbing, yet relieving rescue mission. Jessica McClure Morales was born on March 26, 1986. She became famous on October 14, 1987, at the age of 18 months after she fell into a well in her aunt’s backyard in Midland, Texas. Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 56 hours to free her from the eight-inch well casing 22 feet below the ground. The story gained worldwide attention from so many of us. 

Now, I can’t imagine what that was like especially as a little baby. I can tell you what it’s like to be trapped by unrelenting pain for well over three years. After awhile you lose all hope that you will ever be rescued. You pray day and night that God will answer your cries for help. Eventually, your prayers become just whispers. You practically give up thinking anything can change apart from a true miracle. 

Well, for the first time in four years I was able to enjoy Christmas day. I may not be totally pain free, but I’m so much more relieved. Five days ago my pain relief went up another notch thanks to new medication. My pain specialist recommended I start taking 15mg CBD soft gels twice a day. Infused with concentrated Cannabidiol (CBD) from agricultural hemp aerial plant parts, these easy-to-take softgels ensure you get an exact amount of CBD in every serving.

Since that day my life has dramatically changed. I honestly feel like I’ve been rescued from the bottom of a well. This new CBD in conjunction with my spinal cord stimulator has given me back a life of feeling hope. I’m so grateful for God’s answer to a lot of persistent prayers. Once again God has reached down and picked me up. 

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16)

Don’t Bury Your Story

Yesterday, I had to wait an extensive amount of time at my pain specialist’s office. My lower back was long overdue for another pain injection. While in the waiting room God placed beside me a divine appointment. All I needed to do was open my eyes, heart, and mouth when necessary.

This middle aged lady beside me had what my granddad calls “high mileage on rough roads.” Physically she had several health battles. However, her greatest battle was an emotional wound of the past. She talked about how lucky she was to even be alive. How by the grace of God she got away from her ex-husband who was an obvious monster.

Now, she seeks to help others who deal with domestic violence. Even though she feels completely broken inside it’s obvious she is growing stronger by the day. I told her “None of us are meant to bury our story. The past isn’t meant to define us, but it is something God uses to refine us. The past is God’s platform to display to the world His life changing power.”

I knew I was looking at someone who just needed to be reminded of certain truths. That her healing and joy were coming as she continues to share her story. That if her story could just touch one soul it would be worth sharing. Despite the crowded waiting room I felt led to pray. With her permission I placed my hand on her shoulder. Then, I prayed boldly out loud. I prayed God would continue to use this lady in a mighty way. That she would remember what satan plans to use against her, God plans to use for His glory.

The presence of God was so strong. The spirit of God within us created an instant connection between us. Mutual pain crossed our paths. Our stories were totally different, but both pointed to God’s mighty hand. God reminded us both of something very important that day. That God takes what one day just felt so tragic. Then, Jesus Christ comes in and works His magic.

“….Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. (John 9:3)

900 Articles Later WOW

On July 26, 2012, God led me to write my first ever blog . I’ve now written over 900 articles read by over 55,000 people in 130 different countries. I am blown away by the lives touched. This venue has given me the opportunity to connect with an audience most of whom I won’t ever actually see this side of heaven. 

I am very grateful for every subscriber, kind comment, and personal message sent my way. I realize there is no limit as to how the right God inspired words can help those who find themselves in a difficult place. Every blog I write comes from real life experience often fresh in the middle of my own faith walking.  

I’m an imperfect man seeking God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will in this life. God bless you all as you journey through life. Maybe one of these 900 articles could be used to encourage you. Click below on the category that interest you. Whether it be life issues, marriage, parenting, grief, leadership or faith walking. 

“Now we have received not sthe spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this tin words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13)

I Refuse To Go Back

Spent the evening out with my 8 year old tonight. We went to Wendy’s, Walmart, and drove around to see some Christmas lights. There is no doubting that I stayed in the driver’s seat for far too long. Nerve pain is presently running from my feet to my face keeping me nauseous. I’ve taken some more meds that should have me knocked out sooner than later.

Now, I may not like how I feel, but I refuse to let it steal my joy. It’s just another tough moment that will pass soon. I refuse to not keep on living life to the fullest. My limits don’t have to keep me discouraged, defeated, or depressed. I refuse to just see the negative in my situation. God is using this pain to keep me humble and close to His heart. I simply can’t deny this truth.

Sure, I don’t know what the future holds. However, I refuse to let my worries about it consume me. God has brought me so far. I’ve learned how to fight when you feel like giving up. I’ve learned how to wait on God when nothing seems to be changing. And, I’ve learned that with God in the equation you can get through anything to anywhere. You just have to refuse to go backwards and keep walking by faith forward.

“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)

Measurable Progress

Most know I’ve been in quite a battle the past three years. I’ve had countless sleepless nights. Many days my body was covered with a nerve driven rash. So many days and nights I wondered how much more I could take. I seriously thought I was having a complete life meltdown. I simply hoped and prayed my health might improve one day.

Slowly, but surely my quality of life has returned. Yes, I still have major nerve damage and continued pain. But, I’m now able to sleep every night once I take my medications. I’m consistently walking and swimming to get stronger. My pain is bearable most of the time thanks to my stimulator. I can focus much better than I could in days gone by despite my medications. I’m now even getting the medical care I needed. Many things in my overall life are beginning to look up. Most of all, I feel like I have hope again.

Fortunately, I’ve kept daily notes of my past struggles and progress. This gives me measurable proof of what God has done. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed. However, the facts speak for themselves. In the midst of a long term healing journey its best you journal your progress. This way you too can look back and see how much God has done over time. I’m very grateful to God for His goodness.

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

Trying To Remove My Crutch

I’ve been relying on a cane day and night for over six months. Whether inside or outside my home it’s always with me. I don’t even walk to the kitchen or bathroom without it. I know it drives my wife crazy. But, I’ve actually become very dependent upon it. 

It’s helped keep me from falling several times. My weak legs lean on it to preserve strength. However, in the process my legs have actually become weaker than before. I’m so used to leaning on my crutch that I’ve lost lower body strength. I’ve even lost some confidence that I can walk safely without it.

I’m now taking baby steps towards removing my crutch. One, I’m swimming laps in the YMCA pool a few times per week. Two, I’m trying to take short intentional walks without my cane. Three, I’m doing stretches and exercises daily to build my lower body strength. It’s certainly a process of taking the next faith step. My legs tremble and my heart beats heavy with each step.

However, sometimes you just know that relying on a crutch is no longer a good thing. In fact, relying on a crutch too long can make you weaker. It can keep you from reaching your highest potential. It can hinder you from working through your pain. Sometimes the crutch needs to go so that you can keep growing in strength forward. Often we must consider what could be holding us back in our faith walk. We can’t let our crutch take the place of taking up our cross. 

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

How Am I Doing?

It’s been a very long, but blessed day. Of course, Sunday’s are typically my most challenging days. Today was no exception to that general rule. I spent the entire morning trying to shake the brain fog my meds had given me. Through the preaching of back to back morning sermons I was fighting constantly to focus.

Fortunately, God did what He always does. He changed hearts and touched lives. Despite my limitations He continues to exceed my expectations. It amazes me what God has done when I can do so little. Seeing lives impacted for Christ daily really gives me joy even in pain.

Honestly, I’ve not had extreme pain all day. My stimulator seems to be back on track. I’m counting my blessings for any relief I’ve received. Hopefully, my body will allow me to rest well tonight. I’m learning that any day I’m not blinded by pain is a God made day.

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

Characteristics Of A Great Woman

We’ve been together for over twenty five years. After dating four years we got married on August 23, 1997. It has been twenty one of the best years of my life. I’ve never experienced one day of loneliness since we said “I Do.” I’ve never regretted one of the best decisions of my life. Aimee is like fine wine that only gets better with time. The more I get to know her the more I fall in love with her. Here are seven characteristics that make her such a gift from God.

#1. She is forgiving. 

I’ve given her many reasons to be cold and angry towards me. Yet, her love keeps no records of wrongs. She lavishes me with an undeserving love no matter what I say or do. She is quick to forgive and does not hold yesterdays against me. 

#2. She is faithful. 

She has never made divorce an option. She’s wholeheartedly committed to our relationship. She loves our four boys dearly. However, she is always there for me.

#3. She is thoughtful. 

Her love is always thoughtful and unselfish. Never does she push for her own way. Always mindful of what’s going on in my life. She makes her decisions with us in mind, not just about what she wants.

#4. She is patient.

No doubt that she meant her vows to love me for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Regardless of our life circumstances she is patient with me. Giving me room to heal, grow, process, and regroup. 

#5. She is respectful.

She has never done one thing to shame me. All she does is build me up and stands by my side. Her support and respect strengthen my confidence. She believes in me to lead our home. 

#6. She is constant. 

She is always the same. Constantly patient, respectful, thoughtful, faithful, and forgiving. Her character remains no matter how much life changes. She can be trusted and relied upon.

#7. She is trustworthy. 

Trust is a big word in this day and time. Aimee has proven her steady love and character over time. Only after going through some stuff can you really know someone. The more I know the more I trust.

I firmly believe that behind every great man is an even greater woman. What a blessing from God. She is my helpmate and soulmate. The one that God handcrafted for me. I will spend the rest of my life trying to be for her what she is to me. 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

49D8AB90-D549-46F1-B6C1-0F94D927E098

It’s Like This, Now What?

Laying on my side after midnight with the heating pad on high. I’m now way more comfortable than before. Earlier, I just had another miserable reality check. I got out for a few hours with my precious wife. The entire trip was not good for her or me.

I chose to drive the first 30 minutes it took us to reach our destination. Before we even got out the car I knew things weren’t going to be good. My lower back was aching like crazy. Soon, I would experience nonstop shooting pain down both my legs. Trying to sit comfortably to even eat supper was an impossible task. I couldn’t ignore the pain or deny my great disappointment.

I really thought my pain was more predictable. I even thought my stimulator had things under control. I went from alright to absolutely nauseating pain in one hour’s time. Needless to say we weren’t out long. My wife drove us back home as my nighttime meds put me quickly to sleep on the way. 

I’ve just got to quit comparing my old normal to today’s normal. I keep setting my wife and I both up for greater disappointment. We both acknowledged tonight that we’ve quit shedding tears over this matter. Now, we just expect it to wreck our lives. But, we’re trying to figure out how to smile through it. I’m thinking learning how to do that will be our next phase of faith walking forward. 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5)

Broken & Believing

As I write this I’m sitting in a shopping area parking lot. I feel badly on so many different levels. One, my body just keeps disappointing me. Two, I just physically feel miserable and want to crawl back into bed. Three, my condition makes me feel far from the man, husband, or dad I want to be.

I’m at a critical crossroads of sorts. My condition is no longer a mystery to me, nor a secret to others. Yet, I’ve still not learned how to live with my new handicap. The moment I try to drive more than 30 minutes my body begins to melt down. The pain in my weak spot just pounds and pounds. Real conversation is nerve wreaking to say the least. True quality time with my loved ones seems impossible.

To others I look alright on the outside. Shoot, sometimes even I’m convinced I must be healed. Then, as soon as I hope to just enjoy something the joy is sucked right out of me. Maybe it’s God fighting for my attention. Maybe it’s God seeking to direct me down His chosen path. I have been thinking a lot more about the chronic pain support group that God wants me to start in 2019. Guess I can’t keep relating to others without this constant struggle of my own. 

Lord knows I’m fighting with acceptance while still trying to be optimistic. I do know that this truthful confession helps me in some way. Maybe this is exactly what will happen for others when they share their true struggles with others. God you have my full attention. Help me give up this fight so you can continue to use this battle. I’m broken, but I still believe in your healing power.

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Still In The Wilderness

My pain is bearable at this moment. My life is blessed around me. Even still I feel like I’ve been in a forever wilderness. Like I’m still walking through a thick foggy cloud. My meds still suppress my thinking. My stimulator often leaves me tingling and never feeling exacting right.

I guess I’m still getting used to my new normal. I feel chemically imbalanced so often. Prior to this 39 month long battle that was never the case. Bottom line, is I’m still fighting to feel like myself. There seems to be a wall in front of me that I just can’t get over myself.

My heart tells me that I’m not alone in this wilderness. Many of you feel like life for you will never be quite the same. Whether it be because of a some life valley, health battle or something you can’t even explain. All you know is your heart is heavy and your view is cloudy. You feel like you’re having to walk by faith more than ever before. You know, I think that is right where we all need to be. Seeking God, obeying God, and trusting God. It can feel scary, but with God’s help we can scale any wall.

“You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” (Psalm 18:28-29)

7 Years And Counting

1BC1669E-F1FE-4178-B8E7-1AA5EE639041.jpeg

Yesterday, I got out for a mind and soul cleansing walk. I knew there was one particular stop that had to be made along the way. I had plans to talk with both my grandparents for the first time in over seven years. As I stood at their gravesides I realized that neither of them could talk back. However, their words weren’t necessary for this conversation.

I started with my grandad who I dearly loved. I said, “Granddad I’m starting to understand why you often said you had high mileage on rough roads. Or that you’ve never been alright you just learned how to deal with it. And, why you said “Christopher Columbus took a chance why shouldn’t we?” You really taught me a lot grandaddy. I see now why you always worried about us all. Your love compelled you to be concerned and pray. Well, your prayers are being answered daily in my life and I learned so much from you.”

Then, I talked with my grandma for the first time in seven years. “Grandma, you know if not for that cancer we believe you might have outlived us all. Man I miss you being around. You were one of my best friends. Always willing to listen and tell me the truth as you saw it. I loved way more than your homemade pimento cheese. I loved how you used to bring me ice cream when I was a sick child. I love how you read jokes that made no sense, but had us both laughing tears. I loved how you loved me period.”

“Looking back I see how with God’s help you both persevered through lots of pain. From an early age you went through so much. You had to so much the hard way. Your lives inspire me that I can make it through anything. I can promise you this for sure. I will not waste your investments, encouragement and prayers. I will do all I can for the cause of Christ in this life until I see you both again in the next life.”

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6)

Christmas Shopping

My wife and I have always set a very clear budget for Christmas. Our 4 boys know they will not be getting gifts beyond our means. I doubt we’ve ever spent over $100 per child. When times were tougher we didn’t spend more than $50 per child. If Santa can’t pay his light bill he certainly isn’t buying a golf cart, four wheeler, or new flat screen television.
 
I don’t mention this to judge anyone that does buy these things. If you can afford to get whatever you want go right ahead. But, most of us can’t truly afford to go crazy with our shopping. I know way too many people that spend all year trying to payoff Christmas debt. Many of those folks act as if they have no choice. They feel they have to buy their kids whatever they want.
 
Please! Don’t fall for the peer pressure around you that only leads to increased stress. Determine what you can afford this Christmas and stick to that amount. Our kids need to learn that money doesn’t grow on trees. That they can’t always get what they want in this life. That the greatest gifts don’t cost us a dime. In fact, the greatest gift of all laid in a manger and died on a cross for our salvation.
 
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
 
“Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

My Funeral Arrangements

888621FC-9E1F-444F-A679-DDCAA4545182

A few years ago, God moved in my heart the need to plan my own funeral. As I plan my funeral, I do not feel led to worry about what songs are going to be played, what people will speak, or even where I will be buried. Honestly, those aren’t the things that will matter most when I die. Here is what I’ve concluded will matter most when I draw my last breath. Did I know Jesus? Did I love people? And, did I make a lasting difference in the lives of those around me?  I am concerned with how I live my life between now and when I die. The only way I know to tackle that concern is to begin with the end in mind.

HERE ARE SOME TRUTHS I’VE OBSERVED OVER THE YEARS:

1. Every man should live like he is DYING. (Hebrews 9:27)Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

2. Most people live on this earth like they will live here FOREVER. (James 4:13-15)  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

3. Very few people BEGIN with the END in mind! (Matthew 6:19-21) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

THESE THINGS WILL BE ASSESSED WHEN YOU DIE:

1. What were your PASSIONS? What fueled your living? What got you out of the bed in the morning? Why did you do what you did?

2. What were your PRIORITIES? Your priorities are your values in action. Your priorities aren’t measured by what you intended to do, but what you did.

3. What was your PROGRESS? Did you waste your life or make the most of every opportunity? Did you seek your will or God’s will? Did you make a lasting impact on those you left behind?

When you die people won’t remember the car you drove, the clothes you wore, the position you held, or the money you had in the bank. What will  be remembered most will be the life you lived and the love you shared. So, what would you like your dash to say? That time between the date of your birth and your death?

WHAT WOULD I LIKE MY DASH TO SAY? What do I hope is said when my time on this earth has come to an end? I’ve thought long and hard about this and here is my top five! I encourage you to write your own!

5 Things I Hope Are Said When I Die:

1. If you knew Craig you knew he loved Jesus! I pray that others see that Jesus is the reason I live and the reason I am not afraid to die! I pray that everyone I come in contact with feels the love of Jesus pouring through my veins.

2. He loved his wife to the end! Outside of Jesus in my life, my wife Aimee is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can only hope that every day displays my deep love and devotion to her.

3. Daddy, we thank you for what you impressed upon our hearts! My job as a dad is to prepare my boys to live without me. The best and most lasting gifts I can give them are faith, hope, and love. When I die, I want them each to feel that I did the best I possibly could to love them, guide them, and teach them how to follow God themselves.

4. He shared Jesus with everyone! One of my highest goals in this life is to take as many people to Heaven with me as possible. I pray there are countless folks at my funeral who can say, I know Jesus because that man shared him with me.

5. We know Craig didn’t die, he just graduated. At my funeral, don’t cry.  At my funeral don’t grieve as those who have no hope.  At my funeral rejoice. I don’t want people at my funeral wondering if I was a Christian. I want it to be obvious to others that Jesus was the source of my joy, my peace, and life. And that Jesus is the Savior of my soul. I want family and friends to rejoice in the promise of Jesus words found in John 14:1-6:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Every day we preach our own funerals. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE PREACHING?

Keep Fighting, Keep Believing

I feel like I’ve been kicked repeatedly in my lower back. It’s been another tough day both physically and emotionally. My stimulator has still not gotten back on track. I chose to get up and get out anyway. My wife once again dealt with a bear. Someone who can’t handle much of anything. 

Hour by hour God is seasoning me. I’m clearly seeing how the past has prepared me for the present. I keep taking the next best step. I keep doing whatever I can to fight through this season. I’m not fighting with it anymore. Just seeking to make sure I’m doing all I can to get healthier.

For the first time in over six months I went to the YMCA. I knew I needed some pool therapy. I knew the exercise could do wonders for my mind and body. Sure enough I left there feeling much stronger. Feeling empowered that I didn’t just let my feelings shut me down. I’m pretty certain my trip to the gym knocked that smirk right off satan’s face. He hates it when we keep fighting and believing God no matter we’re going through. Man I hope I can finish my race like the Apostle Paul did despite his struggles. 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Joy Comes In The Morning

My stimulator was shut off for over five hours. I simply had to let my over stimulated nervous system rest. In many ways things were crashing down within me yesterday. In order to get the stimulation balanced I had to deal with some extra pain. Pain from my stimulator being off and my nerves having been fried. To say my body was exhausted was an understatement. Praise God, I was able to get nearly ten hours sleep and I’m much better emotionally!

Every time satan tries to crush my spirit God steps in front of him. He uses the season to make me stronger. He uses the testing to elevate my faith. He uses the weakness to make me humble and transparent. He uses the journey to give me another God story. He uses the pain to remind me that He’s been holding me together the entire time. 

I will not deny that this painful journey is like walking through Hell at times. However, I constantly get to see God’s power and grace at work. There is no denying God is at work both in me and through me. Anytime it seems I’m out for the count God rescues me up once again. While my body may feel still weathered my spirit feels strong. I thank God for the rest and renewal my body desperately needed. Thanks to any of you that prayed.

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.     (Psalm 30:1-5

Understanding My Condition

I already feel like a brand new man after turning off my spinal cord stimulator hours ago. My mind and demeanor are day and night versus before. The over stimulation sky rocketed my nerve pain and anxiety levels. It makes me feel like I’ve turned into the Incredible Hulk. Except in my case I don’t turn green, but I do start thinking irrationally. 

At the time I can’t see it and no one else can. However, I become under the influence of the madness within me. It’s like someone reached in and screwed up all my inside nerve wiring. I can feel myself drowning in misery, but I think I’m just having a bad day.

I apologized to my 15 year old once I came to my senses. Suddenly I have all the patience in the world. Yet, earlier I could not handle the smallest of conversations. It’s like I’m no longer the Hulk, but I can remember what the Hulk did. Sadly, I can do nothing to stop things when my nerves are fried like earlier. 

Many have asked what more can be done for my nerve condition. Honestly, the spinal cord stimulator I have is the most advance technology out there for my level nerve damage. The kind I have has only been around since 2014. When it works great it makes such a difference. When it doesn’t it’s like you took away my oxygen. There are no other surgeries or procedures out there that can repair my nerve damage. Medication and this stimulator are the best man can offer at this time. My is presently clear as can be and my anxiety is completely settled. I’ve not taken anymore medication I just turned the stimulator off. I will turn it back on at a much lower level shortly. 

“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)

We’re All Very Disappointed

Today has not been the worst day of my life. Today has not revealed anything new. Today has confirmed something I wish it didn’t. An hour ago I had to turn my spinal stimulator off due to being over stimulated. As much as it has helped me it clearly wrecked me today.

Since getting out of bed today I’ve been on edge. I just assumed I was having a bad pain day or my unit was not helping enough. My mouth has been a clear assassin to both my wife and children. It was obvious the common issue with everyone was me. I kept thinking I needed to get it together and change my attitude. Slowly, but surely I realized this was a familiar nightmare experienced in many days gone by.

Not until around 4:30pm did I realize the root of my problems. Only after propping both feet up could I feel my entire lower body was constantly buzzing. Evidently all day I’ve been being over stimulated which is like running a tens unit nonstop within your nervous system. When it does this for too long my nerves get fried. I clearly become someone who can’t handle anything reasonably. It’s like being poisoned and you have no clue you’re doing it to yourself.

As soon as I recognized the issue I turned off the unit. I knew it silently snuck up on me again. After settling down I asked my wife if we could talk. I said, “no matter how many times this has happened I still get so disappointed with how bad my nerve condition remains.” She said very nicely, “we’re all disappointed that things haven’t gotten any better for you. It affects us all, not just you.” That’s when the bitter truth hit me like a ton of bricks. My struggle continues to be a household struggle. And, this struggle does not appear to be going away anytime soon. I can now say that without nonstop tears rolling as this does show some coping progress.

As I wait a few hours for the vibrations to settle unwanted pain is flooding back into my body. However, I have to let my nerves rest apart from stimulation. Just like with many peoples’ ongoing struggles there are many tough reality checks. You have moments that just remind you where you really stand. You’re reminded that this life is full of disappointments. You’re also reminded that only Jesus can give you hope beyond those disappointments. I’m so thankful for His promises of peace no matter what we face in this life.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Taking The Mask Off

With the help of medication I slept very well last night. There’s no doubt that sleep is critical to my broken body being able to heal or operate. There’s also no doubt this colder weather has lots to do with my nerves flaring up even more. I’m much better if I’m laying on a heating pad or in a hot bath. However, after the cold air invades my body real havoc begins. 

Sadly, another component of my struggle is I’m just not great company in the midst of it. My poor wife has to deal with someone who’s nerves are shot most of the time. My condition puts me on edge and feeling very quick tempered. Feeling trapped by the pain makes me feel useless. I see so much that needs to be done, but can’t do most of it myself. I hate how it all makes me feel.

For those consumed with pain of any form. I realize it makes you feel overwhelmed and miserable. It goes with you everywhere. Physically, emotionally and mentally your life feels constantly invaded. Your struggle especially affects those you closely love and spend the most time around. Know that only God knows your struggle. Only God can settle your heart and help you through the madness. I’ve got to constantly regroup with God alone. Only in His presence is my mind and heart renewed. Only through sincere, confessing prayer am I able to be settled down.

“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)

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

Sometimes God Works Fast

I drastically changed my spinal cord stimulator settings less than three hours ago. I’ve had this implanted device for seventeen months. It’s cutting edge technology is not something you ever master. Instead, you learn over time of its power. You also realize that having patience with it is a must. Rarely is anything a quick fix. Studies have shown it can take up to two weeks to really feel like it’s working. However, in just a few minutes or hours it can get totally off track. 

God answered prayers quickly this time. I feel a major difference. My pain is once again bearable. I went from nauseating nerve sensations throughout my body to feeling alive again. God calmed me way before he calmed the storm. He has clearly calmed my raging nerves as well.

We all know that our prayers aren’t always answered quickly. At least we don’t always see the results we would like instantly. Some things require long term faith and persistent, patient prayer. We may feel like God is taking forever or not even responding. However, He works everything out in His perfect timing. Sometimes we see immediate results, but often we’re left to trust God’s perfect timing.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

“But those who wait on the Lord. Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Give Up The Fight

Today has been one of those days. The kind where you feel like you’re just hanging on by a thread. No one can get on your last nerve because every space has already been taken. You don’t know how much more you can bear. Every step is a fight and each thought is a prayer. 

Anytime my spinal cord stimulator gets off track long my entire body hits fight mode. It’s like taking oxygen from someone who can’t breathe without it. My nervous system goes haywire without my stimulator doing it’s job. I’m learning how to better deal with these moments, but I always feel like I’m drowning inside.

Maybe this was meant for you to read.  You may have hit the max you can handle. Your mind and heart may be overwhelmed due to all that is going on around you and within you. No matter what you’re gonna get through this valley. Just as God has been there before,  He is with you now. He’s gonna pick you up, carry you forward, and handle what you can’t. Don’t spend unnecessary energy getting all worked up. Trust God with the battle at hand. 

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

Been A Long Night

I’ve only slept two hours total all night. Even though my body is beyond exhausted. Seems I’ve been attacked every direction. Fortunately, I don’t have these kind of nights often anymore. I can recall when this was a normal nightly occurrence. No wonder I felt like I was going crazy before. 

My nerve condition can take me down in so many ways. One, it took what seemed like forever to get my body to quit aching. Then, after meds got that under control I was kept up by a constant shortness of breath caused by my meds. Then, my constant discomfort made me very nauseous. This has been capped off with my skin breaking out intensely due to my intensive nerve pain. Trust me it makes for a very enjoyable night. 

Nights like this remind me that all my underlying issues still exist. I desperately want to hope in my mind they’ve all run away. However, it also makes me realize how often God has answered prayer. I’m usually able to get a decent amount of sleep despite my extreme nerve damage. These days my symptoms don’t break out anything like they did before. So, while I may not have received the total healing I desire. I’m thankful my typical days in the present are better than my usual terrible days in the past. 

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

His Strength Is Enough

Sundays are usually my toughest days of the week. I have to get up way earlier than my body is used to getting up. I have to focus way more than my medicine allows. I have to keep going longer than my disabled body will allow. I give all I can, but quickly realize it was way more than I had to give. 

After a long day I’m now hurting so badly. You would think I’ve been kicked numerous times with a steel toe boot. Or that I was in some kind of accident and got really banged up. I’m always surprised with how bad I feel. The nerves all throughout my lower body just feel fried. Even hours after taking my nighttime meds my body is vibrating in pain. 

Even still I have a great peace. The peace of knowing I’m doing the best I can. The peace of continually asking God to lead my every step. The peace of knowing that as I decrease Christ is increasing. I can only give God the credit for anything good and great in my life. I’m giving all I can while trusting God for so much I can’t accomplish without His help. 

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

Love Like Jesus

Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten too little sleep. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched a series of sappy, true life videos. Maybe it’s because I’m a softy when it comes to watching others struggle. But, all I know is God has given me a very tender heart over the years. I have always been compelled to do whatever I can to encourage and help others. That is when it’s within my power to help those around me.

Now, I don’t accept the assumption that this makes me some great person. Honestly, I have a natural bent towards selfishness like most. I don’t always look for or recognize the hurt of those around me. I can easily get absorbed in my own struggles. I live often with tunnel vision and seek only to get my needs met.

However, something happened when Jesus came into my heart. When I promised God twenty five years ago that I would do anything short of sin to reach others for Jesus. When I asked God to fully lead my heart and grow within me a sincere Christlike compassion for others. My heart change has always led to my life change. To this day I’m moved by a Christlike love and compassion towards others. I hope to spend the rest of my life loving others as Christ has proved his love for me. 

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9-13)

Finding True Joy

It’s 3:30am and I’m in the middle of another long night. This colder weather is doing my broken body no favors. You would think by now I would be used to this pain. This throbbing, shooting, alaching pain just won’t go away. After awhile you just can’t ignore how nauseous it makes you feel.

Even still, I’ve been having some good moments. I value the little things so much more than before this pain. I’m grateful for any quality times with family and friends. I’m grateful to do anything or go anywhere. Shoot, I’m grateful just to get out the bed.

There’s no doubt satan intends to use this pain to steal my joy. After all, this struggle does affect every area of my life. However, Jesus is teaching me how to have real joy. Joy that’s not dependent upon how I feel. Joy that’s not focused on the level of my pain, but God’s purpose through it alI. I truly believe God is using my pain to increase the fullness of my life. God is using me to help others find true joy through their pain.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Thankful For Good Moments

My evening has been so much better than my entire day. There are many things that have still not changed with my health condition. However, one thing that has changed is my perspective. What I used to call just a bad day I now call blessed. Great brokenness helps you realize your blessings.
Earlier I ran up town to pick up something to eat. Someone asked me how I was doing. I simply responded “blessed.” I truly meant what I was saying. I was so happy I could hold my head up and pickup my own food. How I felt in that moment was so much better than I had felt all day. Those moments that feel like Hell make you so appreciative of the moments that are more like Heaven.
Truly, the rainy days make you so thankful for sunshine. It’s so easy to take for granted the good moments. In fact, you can easily mistake good moments for bad ones. Any moment you find reason to smile it’s a good moment. No, it’s actually a God moment. Because every good thing comes from God.
“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)

Write About It

One day I will release a book to help others deal with their pain by faith. Until then and beyond I will keep writing about my own painful journey. Not in an attempt to wallow in my suffering. Instead, I’ve discovered something I believe can help anyone working through pain. All you’ve got to do is grab a pen and paper.
You see, when pain is harbored inside it just takes you down further. It only feels wasted and overwhelming. When you process it there is a level of release. You are then allowing God to use it as a platform to encourage others. Sure, not everyone will get it. However, those who can identify with your pain will. They will realize you understand them and that they are not alone. You will grow through the process. You will discover a deeper sense of purpose for your pain.
Daily I write things to process my pain. I seek to share anything that might benefit someone else going through a struggle. Writing things down documents lessons learned, measures progress and forces me to work through my feelings. Sharing things to help others gives me a joy despite my pain. So, grab a pen or start typing away on your keyboard. It can do wonders for your healing and will likely touch the heart of someone else.
“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)
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

I’m Ok Except For This

Imagine feeling like your entire insides are vibrating and aching all the time. That just a sudden sound or movement could send shockwaves straight through your nervous system. Imagine never having a true break from your discomfort. You wake up with it and go to bed with it. Imagine doctors telling you there’s nothing they can do about it. And, you’re still trying to swallow that reality.

This is still my current situation. I would be lying if I said it’s not still driving me crazy. Sure, I’ve learned how to cope with it a lot better. I’ve learned how to work despite it at times. But, it is still making everything so difficult. There’s just no break from it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I just keep trusting God with it.

It’s not just some handicap that limits me. It pure misery that torments me. By the grace of God I’m able to keep pressing forward. I do still believe it’s purposeful pain. That’s it’s meant to be used for my good and God’s glory. I’m still growing into this struggle and learning how to cope with it daily.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                         (9’2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

What Keeps Me Going

Ministry for me has never been more physically or emotionally draining. It’s not that I’m doing so much more. But, the fact I can’t handle as much as before. My nerve pain is to me what kryptonite is to Superman. Whatever superpowers I once had are gone away. This disabling nerve pain appears to be here to stay.

Fortunately, I have plenty that motivates me daily to keep going. When I’m preaching it’s that next soul saved. When I’m counseling it’s that next family touched. When I’m writing it’s that person saying these words are right on time. When I’m praying it’s that next breakthrough celebrated.

Someone can always find many reasons to quit. Your feelings can lead you to many doubts. Your fatigue can lead you to burnout. Your limited perspective can lead to believing you’re not making any difference. Satan hopes to knock you down and keep you down. Why? Because anything you’re doing that’s God honoring is always making a difference.

“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)

You Can’t Always Run

It really doesn’t matter whether it’s morning, day or night. Whether I work or don’t work. Whether I’m in South Carolina or California. Whether I’m in the bed or out. My nerve condition disrupts my life twenty four seven.

Most of the time, I would do anything to rid myself of this pain. There’s literally not a part of me that doesn’t suffer because of it. It affects my mind, body and strength. I can’t run from it if I tried. Because the battle is not around me, but raging within me.

Everyone has such a battle. One you simply can’t run from if you tried. Instead, you must learn to deal with it the best you can. The burden is so real you can’t afford not to pray. You have to trust that God won’t put on you more than He can  handle. So, running from the battle is not always an option. However, knowing where to run in the battle is always critical.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—  the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm, he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121)

I’m Only Human

I’ve been soaking in a hot tub for several hours. Just hoping to drown out the pain that runs deep throughout my body. Recent days have been very productive and fulfilling. It’s also been painfully obvious just how human I’ve become. I say that as if I wasn’t human before. However, reaching this point has forced my humanity in my face.

I guess deep inside I long to be perfect. To never hurt, fear, struggle or disappoint. Adversity keeps introducing me to myself. No matter how hard I try. No matter how far I come. My humanity keeps showing itself greatly this side of heaven.

I’m having to embrace God’s grace. I’m having to get over my pride. I’m having to accept that life is full of ups and downs. I’m having to confess my humanity often because my limits are many. Jesus is the only real superhero. I’m simply clay in the potter’s hands. Daily I’m just asking God to take this human mess and help me live a life that is blessed.

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (James 3:2)

“But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”  (Acts 10:26)

Pastor’s Wives

45B0FB9B-8799-418B-B859-24309F561F95

I know two pastor’s wives really well. One gave birth to me and raised me. The other married me and continues to raise me. I’m pretty certain my mom and wife would confirm I’m not joking about the continual raising me part. So, I’ve had two unique view points of pastors wives. I’ve seen one as a son and the other as a spouse. Here are some things I know for sure.

One, it’s just not easy to be them. I knew twenty five years ago when I accepted God’s call into the ministry that I couldn’t just marry anyone. My mom was above average and I knew my wife would need to be as well. I would need a wife that felt mutually called to the ministry. For while they don’t have to be the pastor they do have to deal with the pastor. They have to deal with the ups and downs of an ever changing ministry. They have to deal with the critics and those who demand the pastor’s time and energy. They often sit in the back seat while the pastor gets credit for being in the front seat.

Two, it’s a very thankless role. A great pastor’s wife is what sustains a healthy pastor. She is truly his helpmate and missing rib. The one who loves him unconditionally regardless what others think. The one he can be real and raw with about life. The one he can share his struggles and burdens with daily. So many see the pastor, but they overlook the pastor’s wife who keeps him together.

Finally, the pastor’s wife is often the pastor at home. She is the one that holds the home fort down. She provides the most consistent love, support, and training to everyone. The preacher leans on her and so do her children. Everyone in the house knows that daddy may preach the message, but momma embodies it. She is the steady heartbeat and behind most key moments. She is the one home caring for the home sheep while the pastor is out trying to reach lost sheep.

My friends there is no way to measure her worth. The shoes she fills were made just for her. Her husband thanks God everyday for such a gift. For to do this thing called life and ministry alone would simply be unbearable. She is deserving of greater praise than she will ever receive this side of Heaven. And, one day she will hear those priceless words “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

“Her husband is well known at the city gates where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” (Proverbs 31:23-31)

God Override My Humanity

More times than not I simply don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. My body feels weak and my mind is so limited. No matter how strong I try to be my strength is never enough. No matter how much I study I’m never smart enough. No matter how hard I try I always fall short.

Especially as a pastor I often feel unqualified. Who am I to lead so many others to God? Who am I to be an example of what it means to follow Christ? Who am I to preach God’s word? Often I just pray that I don’t get in God’s way. 

God has to remind me often it’s just not about me. The power of God is not dependent upon me. The people of God are not dependent on me. My calling is to let God be God in my life. To surrender everything and allow God to override my humanity.

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)

Back To Life & Reality

It’s hard to swallow every time. I had the most productive week I’ve had in over 38 months. A huge part of me thought the old me was coming back. Just to drive myself a few places on my own was big. Having the opportunity on consecutive days to be there for others was even bigger. 

Then, I woke up this morning knowing the bitter truth. Yes, I’ve made some improvements and regained my recovery momentum. However, my condition overall is still the same. I can’t drive anytime without great consequence. I can’t sit long in any position without great discomfort. I can’t run back to life as I once knew it without feeling like I’ve been hit by a car.

No, apart from a miracle my old reality in this life is over. I’ve got to accept it and respect it. My condition forces me to account for this nerve damaged body with every step. Praise God I’m not where I have been, but I’m far from where I used to be. I believe one of the toughest things to accept is our limitations. I’m thrilled to be back to living life. But, I must continue to recognize what is and is not good for my health. Maybe you do too! 

“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)

Reading Other People’s Mail

The longer I have this battle raging within my body. The longer this indescribable pain continues. The easier it is for me to recognize other people’s pain and misery. It’s an ability I wish I could have apart from such a painful experience. Yet, there seems to be no better teacher than experience.

Everyday, I eventually hit this invisible wall. That point where my body reminds me it’s still broken. My pain speaks loudly letting me know where I really stand. My humanity screams out for attention. Humility runs through my veins as I’m often left to feel powerless. However, I now possess this super power.

I know what its like to feel totally defeated. I know what it’s like to wish you could end your misery. I know what its like to hurt so much that everything within you is constantly nauseous to the core. I know what its like to feel no one understands what you’re going through. I know what its like so that God can use me to help others who are struggling in similar ways. 

“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)

God Rescued Me

Recently, I’ve been able to associate myself with some words I wondered would ever be possible again. For 38 months straight all I knew was unpredictable and flat broken. Several highly credible doctors have confirmed my nervous system is permanently broken. My symptoms have daily confirmed they’re each right to a high degree of medical certainty. After awhile your consistent misery starts to define you.

However, I can now say I’ve experienced a new consistency. A consistency of bearable pain and measurable progress. While I still have many limitations. I’m able to smile again. I’m not constantly feeling pinned down by pain. I’m able to sleep through the night with medication. I don’t feel depressed every minute, but hopeful God will continue to carry me forward.

Now, I still take my normal medications which do not include any narcotics. I still lean heavily on the consistent help of my spinal cord stimulator. I also strive daily to walk and make decisions I’ve learned are best for my condition. But, for the longest time even doing all those things didn’t keep my life from being miserable and unpredictable. My life is now usually predictable and my condition is so much more bearable. I have great reason to smile from sun up to sun down. I thank God constantly for any relief and progress.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me, he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning from my God.” (Psalm 18:16-21)

“Just Say No” to Media Madness

Many people have an addiction to something just as toxic as many drugs. It’s called world news, but in reality it’s worldly opinions. Even worse than their opinions are their agendas. Most of what the media feeds us is intended to lure, anger and divide us. Even still most Americans hang on every spoken or read headline. 

Now, this article is not written for those on the left, right, or in between. This article is written for all who need freedom from their bondage. How much time do you spend daily watching or reading news headlines that just leave your stomach in knots? How often do you seek news just for ammo intended to ambush others who you feel are wrong? How much good is really accomplished from your worry or word beating of others?

Quit believing everything you hear and allowing the media to be your gospel of truth. Study your bible more than the latest news headlines. Let God’s word be your source of absolute truth. In today’s world false news is posted every second. Even most of the truthful news is shared with a manipulative, self-centered agenda. Now, please know that this article was not written to bash anyone. However, it was written to remind us all that satan loves to use the media to create chaos both within us and around us. 

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace….” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Dear Rivalry Fan

F25E1076-3001-4BC9-8DCB-24F87A1ABF1FMany know its the day before the big game. Yes, the one that you really hope your team wins no matter what. It doesn’t matter how the season has gone so far. If you could pick just one game to win this would be it. Since you were a young child you’ve been clearly on one side or the other. 

Now, about this time emotions start to rise. You hate that other team so much you’re bound to say something you will soon regret. What starts out as simple joking becomes personal attacks. Next thing you know tempers are flying, words are flying, and in some crazy cases fists are flying. Before you know it your love of football has trumped your love of others. 

Let me remind you that it’s just a game. It’s not worth losing a friendship or jeopardizing a family relationship over. In fact, a win or loss will not pay your bills, help or hurt you, or improve your future. It’s obvious we’ve let a game in many ways become our God. Especially when we have a win at all costs mentality. So, before you let human emotions mislead you. Think about what really matters most in life. If you’re thinking wisely then football will not even make your top ten list of priorities. 

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

Just Keep Faith Walking

I’ve been in a waiting chamber for what seems like forever. For over 38 months I’ve been waiting on my body to feel anything like normal. Still the pain disrupts practically everything. For over 35 months I’ve been longing to get back to work full time. Not sure I’ll see that happen anytime soon. For almost 18 months I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to purchase our own house. Yet, my health and finances have continued to delay that reality. 

Now, I want you to know I’ve not given up on any of these things. God will provide what I need when He knows it is best. I know God can heal my body completely. I know God will give me the strength to accomplish whatever He intends for me to do. And, one day sooner than later my family will have it’s  own home again. Until then I’ve got to keep walking forward by faith.

During this time my heart and mind have grown stronger. My patience and ability to endure has greatly increased. I’m learning what it really means to keep walking forward by faith. Even when it hurts and nothing can be clearly seen by the human eyes. I’m certain that if I just keep taking it the next God led step it will lead to breakthrough. It’s not my job to try and figure it all out. It’s my calling to trust that God has it already worked out. This is just a season of my journey. Each chapter is a critical part of my God story. 

“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)

Look For Reasons To Celebrate

It’s that time of night again. That point I reach daily where the pain just finally wears me down. Something like electricity keeps running throughout both feet all the way up into my face. I’m tempted to throw a full blown pity party. To tell you how bad life is for me at this present moment. Then, God starts rearranging my perspective and straightens up my frown.

An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide. I thank God for the roof over my head. 1 in 5 households face an extreme food shortage. I thank God for plenty of groceries. Around 197.7 million are unemployed. I thank God for my current job and paycheck. Each year 12.7 million people discover they have cancer. So, far I’ve not been one of them. Each year 55.3 million people die, but I’m still blessed to be breathing.

My friends I could go on and on. I don’t know about you, but my volume of blessings has already risen. Sometimes it truly does take counting them one by one. I’m reminded once again just how much God has done and is doing for me. For sure, my cup runneth over with reasons to celebrate. 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Touched By Childlike Faith

A few months ago, I attended a worship service called special gatherings. Last year I  joined a board of folks who carry out this ministry. It is a gathering full of adult mentally challenged folks that all reside in the Walterboro, SC area. Over fifty of them gathered to worship as they do every Sunday afternoon. Over 160 plus of these special adults reside in the Walterboro, SC area.

Everyone of them have a different story. Most, know what it’s like to never be treated equally by the average person. Many, know what it’s like to feel rejected, abandoned, and even abused by their own families. All of them are just like you and me. They have eternal souls and a deep imbedded need for Jesus. In fact, they could actually teach us plenty about how to have a sincere relationship with Jesus.

Watching them make a joyful noise unto the Lord was moving. Seeing their sincere, heartfelt cries for Jesus was about to make me cry. Then, after a time of worshiping in song came the opportunity for prayer. One of their own dear brothers in Christ stood at the altar and invited anyone to come forward for prayer. Several made their way to this middle age saint. They would simply tell him their struggles. Then, he would pray for them out loud with great childlike faith. You could tell there was power in those prayers.

Honestly, I really wanted to go up there for prayer myself. Yet, I wasn’t sure at first if I was invited. My heart was stirring and my back was hurting. I knew at any point I could cry a river. Then, the most touching thing happened. One of the special needs residents went forward. I had not said a word to her or anyone. She says loudly, “I would like you pray for my Pastor Craig that his back would get better.”

I couldn’t believe how much it touched my heart and how God moved on my behalf. It became crystal clear that none of us are really that different. We’re all special people in need of a special savior. We’re not connected by our head knowledge, but our heart’s desires. The greatest connector of all between us is certainly Jesus. I was so blessed by a man and woman’s childlike faith. And, I want to be like both of them as I grow up.

“Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Thank God Seasons Change

There is no doubt this colder weather is not my friend. All I have to do is wake up and get up. Just getting out of my warm covers for a minute lets me know everything I need to know. This chilly weather makes things hurt more than ever. It literally cuts through me like a knife. Guess I’m going to have to live in a electrically heated jumpsuit for the winter.

It’s amazing how much a new season can affect you. The colder months make me feel so low. It’s so humbling as it knocks the air out my sails. Things feel so broken within and my weaknesses feel so much more exposed. All I can do is lay on a heating pad or get in a hot bath to stop the aching.

Fortunately, I know this is just a season. That no matter how much I ache this season won’t last forever. Sure, things hurt a lot more in the present. However, the present will soon be the past. Thank God for new seasons of warmer temperatures and greater relief. Until then I will hold on to the hope that this too shall pass. 

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” 

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Pain Connects, God Comforts

Laying on my side still waiting on the pain to settle. I have no idea what has thrown my spinal cord stimulator completely out of rhythm. It has worked so well for a few months straight. The change in temperature has to be playing some factor. Anyway, it’s not the first time and certainly won’t be the last that I will hurt this much.

Had someone recently ask “why do you write things when you’re in so much pain?” I told them “I always try to write things in the midst of my pain. Because once the pain has passed it’s hard to recall exactly how you felt. I’ve found that pain is what connects us all to each other. It’s something we all go through even if our pain is different.”

Honestly, I consider the pain a platform. A platform to encourage others through their pain. A platform to identify with others going through things they would never choose. A platform to share a hope that does not fade regardless of our earthly pains. A platform that demonstrates we’re all broken vessels in the hands of a loving, comforting God. 

“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. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

My Limitations Frighten Me

I’ve had a rather short day considering most people’s normal Friday. I didn’t even get out of bed until nearly 1pm. Therefore, I’ve only been awake for a little over 8 hours and it’s already time for my nighttime meds. Besides getting a bite to eat I’ve not left the house all day. Yet, my body already feels shot. All I’ve done is spend a few hours on the phone counseling others through life’s difficulties.

The old me would barely be getting started and nowhere near tired. Yet, my present neurological issues have melted my internal circuits in the blink of an eye. I was getting choked up earlier telling my wife one of my greatest fears. I said, “I feel such a big call on my life to build a church that will literally reach thousands. However, I can barely handle twenty five percent of what I used to be able to handle. How am I supposed to do things now?”

I could easily assume that God’s plans for my life have been drastically altered. But, I’m choosing to believe that my present condition is a major part of God’s future plans. One, I believe this way God will receive all the glory for anything accomplished. Two, I can’t help but draw desperately close to God for guidance and strength. Three, God is protecting me from trying to be everyone’s savior. Instead, I will have to share the load of God’s big vision with many others if it’s to be accomplished. So, while my limitations may be many. God’s power will be clearly seen in me and despite me. If God’s plans are dependent upon life’s unexpected we’re all doomed.

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Parents Wake Up

For a long time I was asleep as a parent. Sure I love my children dearly and I would do anything for them. However, I believe it’s when they hit the teenage years that most of us really wake up. Why? Because what once seemed simplistic gets very complicated. Before the teenage years you’re just trying to make sure they are clothed, fed, and put to bed. Sure you love them to death, but it’s real easy to hit cruise control when they are younger. They may be busy before, but most will act possessed at some point as they get older.

Now, I believe most of us wake up on a general level at first. We start seeing things in our kids that don’t make us proud. Some of it reflects us and other parts reflect society as a whole. Either way we have two options as parents. One, just occasionally yell at them and hope they don’t embarrass us further. Or, rise up as parents and begin to do everything we can to lead them.

Now, some would say, “well you know you can’t do anything now. It’s too late they are already grown.” Listen to me, as long as they are in your house, eating your food, sleeping in your bed, and still in middle or high school. They are still your children to intentionally and lovingly lead. Which means you should not ignore issues of disrespect and disregard for authority. You should not ignore issues such as what they do on social media and the internet in general. You should not take lightly anything that you know needs to be addressed and talked about. The main thing is you should not quit being the parent and striving to be the best example you can be for them. 

Today’s teens are dealing with great anxiety and confusion. Most have not been raised to know God’s absolute truth. Those who have been are surrounded by others who have no clear moral compass. With a 19, 17, 15, and 8 year old I realize that times have changed. But, the need for each parent to wake up and step up never will. Seize the time you do have left and don’t just throw up your hands. Your kids need you to keep playing your God-given role as mom or dad. Parents when we quit addressing significant issues in our children’s lives we have quit caring fully about their lives. Remember, you’re not responsible for everything they do, but for everything you do.

“Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)(The Message)

Breakthrough Has Come

115 days ago I set out on my first ever 40 day faith walk. At that time, I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. I had never felt more helpless in my life. I didn’t know if my situation could improve. I didn’t know if I might have to step away from being a pastor. Especially since my nervous system just kept breaking down.

Led by God I got away from everything and took a 40 day sabbatical from all ministry. I fasted from all social media for 80 days. I sought God with all my heart the past one hundred and fifteen days. The goal was to find renewed strength in my heart, mind, and body. I could only hope that God would give me back my recovery momentum. I could only hope that God would set me free from feeling helpless and hopeless.

Before I started this journey I was bound in every direction physically, financially, and spiritually. I was only walking a few miles per week. However, after 115 days of faithfulness that all has changed. I’ve now walked 578 miles in just 115 days. I’ve averaged walking over 5 miles per day with a cane. My heart and mind are twice as strong as they were prior to this leap of faith. God has turned my finances completely around. I’ve been set free from some things that have kept me bound for quite some time.

I’ve experienced major breakthrough in this short, but beyond tough journey. It has taken everything I’ve had to give. My faith has been tested from top to bottom. God has lifted my spirits, increased my resolve, and put my feet on solid ground. Yes, I still have so much further to go in my recovery. But, I feel renewed and refocused in every way possible. 

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity.” (Psalm 18:25)

I’m Going On Strike

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough. We live in a society that puts too much undeserved pressure on people. Everybody wants things to happen overnight. There’s never enough hours in the day mentality. You’ve gotta do it all and have it all now. 

Now, I’m all about seizing the moment in front of you. About making the most of everyday God allows you to breathe. I’m not a fan of running like a chicken with your head cut off. Most of us are far from healthy when we’re running through life. When we think everything on our life’s to do list must be done overnight.

I’ve decided I’m going on strike. I’m no longer running down the hill of slavery with society. I’m not gonna kill myself, my marriage, or my family in the name of busyness. I will remain diligent in seeking to leave a legacy that outlives me. I will keep waking up each day asking God to lead my every step. But, I will no longer live under the pressure man, not God has put upon me.

“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)

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Reason For The Season

No matter what I set out to do my pain keeps interrupting. Its really hard to sit still when it’s hard to sit period. Its really hard to concentrate on anything when the pain is constantly grinding my nerves. I wish more than anything I could get this pain out of my life. Yet, I’m left to trust God still has a plan even now. 

This is the first season of my life where the pain just won’t go away. Sure I’ve had some hurts, fears, and griefs in the past. But, nothing that ever affected me morning, day and night for so long. I’m in a season of life that I’ve never experienced. Full of soul searching, heartache, healing and pain. The only way I can see to navigate through this season is by faith. 

Some of you find yourself in a prolonged season of pain. You aren’t sure if it will ever go away. It affects you morning, day and night. You long to return to life as normal, but things may never be the same again. By faith, you’ve got to trust God as much with this season as you have with past seasons. Trust me, it’s the only way to move forward. God has a reason for the season. 

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiasties 3:1-11)

Continue To Learn

I still recall what my professor said on the first day of my journey towards getting my masters degree. He said, “I’m not here to teach you everything you need to know. I’m here to teach you how to be a life long learner.” Those words have never left my mindset the past twenty years. I know I will never know everything. I do strive everyday to learn as much as I can. As a man, husband, father, and minister.

As I continue to grow I look for others who sincerely want to grow. Many say they want to reach their full potential. However, most aren’t very humble and teachable. A man or women must realize that there is always more to learn. That wisdom is not knowing everything, but truly realizing all that you don’t know. 

You should continue reading, studying, and striving to apply God’s word. You should always listen to others who can share their learned wisdom. You should frequently look into the mirror of reality. Ask yourself, “In what areas of my life do I need to learn more?” Leaders don’t know everything there is to know. Leaders simply keep learning so they have more to share with others. We will all be works in progress until God takes us home. Until that day keep living and learning.

“Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” (Luke 2:52)

I Can’t Stop This Feeling

It’s only been two days straight of waking up this miserable. I’m used to being a little uncomfortable, but feeling this way takes me to the furthest edge. I always have pain that is at least a 4 out of 10. However, there is a great difference between that and this which is a 7/8 out 10. Especially when the pain just lingers throughout my body.

You find yourself feeling depressed in quick fashion. All you feel you can do is lay on your side as I’m doing now. You feel like a fish out of water just desperate for the pain to go away. Your prayers are silent as you don’t have much energy to spare. All you know is you want to feel better as soon as possible.
There is always the fear that this may be your best and things can always get worse. Especially when you know this is a condition you’ve had for over three years. Especially when you know if not for your medications you would never get out of bed. That even with your medications it’s still a chore. I guess it’s always hard to swallow having a “chronic” illness when you’ve spent most of your life extremely healthy. The cycles in your mind always bring you back to the basics of the faith. Those basics always start with “Let Us Pray.”
“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 The Present Pain Blinds You

I keep desperately wanting to think the worst is behind me. However, my throbbing nerve stricken body is flooding me with doubt. This colder weather is proving to be brutal. My pain is constant throughout my body and I’m miserable. This feeling is not something you ever get used to in life. You just learn how to cope with it better over time.

There is no coincidence this comes on the brink of many awesome things happening. I’ve seen God moving by the minute. I’ve seen God-given dreams becoming reality. God has been so at work in my life and ministry. I was actually feeling the return of momentum that I thought was lost for good. God has been rebuilding my confidence and my comfort had been a little greater.

In the words of a well known song “I can’t fight this feeling any longer.” Eventually this pain just rips your heart out. Especially when nothing seems to faze it apart from total knockout meds. I’m holding on to hope stored from days gone by. I’m seeking to be mindful that this is just one day of misery. Thank God for knowing His past faithfulness. Sometimes it’s the only confidence you have in the present. Hopefully, tomorrow will feel much better.

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.(Psalm 9:1)

This Thorn In My Flesh

It’s with me when I wake up, get up, and go to bed. My nerve pain is always interfering my life. This is not anything I ever expected or would have planned. Explaining the weight of this struggle is impossible to put into words. The possibility that I might spend the rest of my life this way or even worse is mind blowing. 

Yes, I’ve had 38 months for this reality to settle into my mind. However, my heart is just beginning to process this pain. To embrace that this thorn may be God’s will for my life. To accept the fact that God does His greatest work through pain. If we allow it God works in us, through us, and despite us. But, it can be so difficult to see when you are blinded by the present struggle.

Now, I never wake up asking God to remove my struggle. Why? Because too much has confirmed this is purposeful pain. I still don’t like it. In fact, I absolutely hate it. However, I see God at work and I trust God to work even in the pain. It’s definitely led to me realizing my desperate need for divine intervention. I’m more humble, prayerful, thankful, and intentional. I’ve had to realize that even when it hurts God is still God.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Uncomfortable In My Skin

One thing I’ve learned that is true for us all. Everything is easier when it’s not you going through it. When it’s not your nerves being fried. When it’s not your cross to bear. When it’s not your nightmare to get through. When the struggle is around you not within you.

I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin. I hate this nauseating, nerve fried feeling within me. I’m tempted to dope up with anything possible to chase away the pain. In fact, I understand why many do this everyday. They just feel miserable in their own skin. Eventually the struggle takes them down roads not proudly travelled. 

In these moments, I find my strength is simply not enough. The only comfort and peace I can find is in Christ. Somehow His strength is always enough and His grace is always sufficient. All I keep doing is putting my little hand in His big hand. He holds me steady, takes me through, and comforts my weary soul. In my skin alone I would collapse and eventually come unglued. In Christ my strength is renewed and my joy is restored. 

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

You Must Stay Proactive

Many times you’re simply minding your own business. You’re at home, work, or just trying to do something relaxing. Next thing you know satan strikes out of nowhere. He may breathe confusion in a relationship. He may take you from the greatest high to the lowest low. All you know is you just didn’t see it coming.

Most of us just don’t recognize the spiritual battle until we’ve been knocked down by the enemy. We put our faith on a shelf and only grab it when things feel urgent. Our prayers are typically reactive instead of proactive. If only we could realize the devil never sleeps. He is always preying on the moments we choose to spiritually sleep walk through life. 

Friends we must stay on our knees before God. We must keep praying for God’s protection, provision, and purpose in our lives. You see, the enemy can’t stand the name of Jesus. He knows in Christ you will overcome and will stay anchored. He knows that at the name of Jesus all darkness must flee. So, stay alert and keep praying persistently. Then, you will be prepared when the devil strikes.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:18)

Dads Lives Matter

Tonight we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday. It was a surprise party and total family affair. He clearly appreciated our thoughtfulness. My brothers and I clearly recognized the significance of the moment. You see, we’ve each been blessed to call him dad for well over forty something years.

I’m well aware that many never get to even meet their dad. Many never get to live with their dad. Many never get to feel loved by their dad. Many never receive the encouragement and affirmation needed from their dad. Many have to say a way too early, earthly goodbye to their dad. And, I know personally that a dad’s life really matters.

A dad’s example can lead multitudes in the right direction. A dad’s love can touch his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. A dad’s leadership can prepare generations for embracing their God-given responsibilities. A dad’s faith can breathe hope into his present home and into many future homes. A dad’s legacy can far out live his years here on earth. For these reasons and many more a dad’s life really matters. So, dads strive to become the man God created you to become. For, your life matters way beyond what you can imagine.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Sunny Side Up

43491E04-C064-4DE9-BEAD-3EFBABE376E0Some of you actually like your eggs this way. Sunny side up means only one side of the egg is fried. Personally I like my eggs totally fried. However, when it comes to my life I prefer things sunny side up. And, while my nerves are fried within I see the sun shining through daily.

Earlier today I got my spinal cord stimulator adjusted. It was more than overdue and a lot changed the past six months. As the lady adjusted my settings she noticed something special on her computer screen. You see, she can see exactly where everything is placed within my back while she seeks to adjust things. She says, “It’s amazing how perfectly placed your stimulator is in your back. Everything is exactly where it needs to be to give you the best coverage possible.

I responded by saying “they were placed in there strategically by God. He guided the doctor to the exact place and position.” Yes, I’m still very weary and warn. But, I see most days sunny side up regardless of my fried nerves. I’m sincerely thankful for this purposeful, pain filled journey. Not because I like feeling so bad. But, I continue to see God doing so much good through this season. And inside I’m doing a lot more smiling than frowning. 

“Sunshine is sweet; it is good to see the light of day.” (Ecclesiastes 11:7)