Thank You God

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

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

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

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

One Part Affects Many

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

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

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

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

Taking Up My Cross

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

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

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

“Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

God Will Fight For You

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

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

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

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

I’ve Not Drowned Yet

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

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

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

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

No One Sees Your Pain

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

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

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

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

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

Not Feeling Good Vibes

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

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

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

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

Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

Dear Caregiver

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

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

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

(Isaiah 41:10)(NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Ongoing Pain Changes You

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

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

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

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

20 Things I Monitor Daily To Cope

SLEEP

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

SPINAL STIMULATOR

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

MEDICATIONS

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

SITTING

Not supposed to sit longer than 30 minutes straight.

STANDING

Nor supposed to stand longer than 30 minutes straight.

DRIVING

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

EXERCISE

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

STRETCHING

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

HEAT & ICE

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

BATH

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

WHAT I EAT

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

WHAT I DRINK

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

SKIN CONDITIONS

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

STRESS

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

LENGTH OF DAY

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

LETTING GOD USE IT

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

LEARNING & PRAYING

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

ENERGY

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

POSITIVITY

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

REALNESS

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

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

No One Wants To Hear This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Officially Broken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Can Relate To Job

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

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

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

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

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

My Saturday Became Sunday

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

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

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

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

Asking God For Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

My Heart Is Breaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humbling, Healing, Going, Growing

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

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

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

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

She Is Usually Right

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

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

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

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

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

Finding New Level Strength

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

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

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

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

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

The Road To Total Wellness

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

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

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

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

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

Do What You Can

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

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

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

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

Praise Through The Pain

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

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

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

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

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

Such Room To Grow

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

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

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

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

My Grace Is Sufficient

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

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

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

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

No Pain, No Gain

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Rush Healing

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

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

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

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

Been Awake All Night

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

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

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

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

Peace Is Rising

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

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

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

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

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

Torture & Treasured Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Use Mean

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

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

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

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

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Not Who I Was

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

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

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

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Desperate To Meet You

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

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

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

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

Dealing With Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

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

One Giant Leap For Mankind

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

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

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

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

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The Battle Is Calming

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

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

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

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

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

Why I Write IN The Pain

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

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

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

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

Jesus Wept

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

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

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

“Jesus Wept.” John 11:35

Such A Roller Coaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoping To Say “Goodbye Donut”

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

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

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

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

Remembering Your Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

WANTED: Those In Great Pain

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

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

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

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

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

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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

It Ain’t Nothing But A Tailbone

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

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

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

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

Waiting With Expectancy

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

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

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

“But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

God Is So So Good

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

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

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

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

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

Depleted and Hopeful

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer Changes Things

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

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

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

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

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

I Know I’m A Pastor But….

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

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

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

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

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

God I Need Relief

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

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

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

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

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

Chased By A Lion

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

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

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

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

When The Pain Won’t End

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

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

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

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

The Battle Is Constant

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

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Know What To Pray

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

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

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

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Romans 8:26

Lightening Strikes Again

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

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

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

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

God Is Restoring Me

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

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

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

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

Remember When

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

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

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

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

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

I Would Rather Just Pray

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

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

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

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

Shaking My Head

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

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

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

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

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

To Whom It May Concern

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Pastor Craig Crosby

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

My Legs Are Gone

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

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

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

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

Only Half That Man

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

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

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

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I Had Hoped By Now

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

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

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

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

Somehow I’m Walking On Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

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

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

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

The Lift I Needed

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

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

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

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

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

Where Are You Sleep?

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

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

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

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

Reality Checks

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

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

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

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

No One Wants To Hear It

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

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

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

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

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

Calm Yourself Down

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe You Need To Hear This

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

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

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

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

Jaws Is Back In Town

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

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

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

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

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

Parents: Tough Love Is Mandatory

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating The Good Stuff

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

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

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

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

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

5 Ways To Lift Your Spirit

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

1. Be Proactive

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

2. Get Out The House

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

3. Focus On What You Can Do

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

4. Do Whatever It Takes

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

5. Let God Use It

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

I Had To Unplug Myself

The technician that has adjusted my

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

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

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

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank God For Pool Therapy

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

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

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

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

One Day It Will End

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

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

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

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

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

My Heart Hurts Deeply

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

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

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

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

The Strength Of My Life

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

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

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

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

Learning To Breathe

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

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

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

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

Time To Embrace It

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

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

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

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

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

Please Cover Me In Prayer

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

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

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

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

Thank God I’m Never Alone

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

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

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

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

In My Distress

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

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

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

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

It’s So Embarrassing

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

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

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

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

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Mercy Is Rewriting My Life

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

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

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

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

Are You Really Leading?

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

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

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

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

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

Beware Of Cruise Control

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

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

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

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

It’s Like Waking From A Coma

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

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

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

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Philippians 3:13

Get Me Out The Way

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

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

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

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

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

Take Time To Breathe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humming Along

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

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

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

“This is the day the Lord has made;

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

Daddy, I Got Your Back

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

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

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

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ….. No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:35-37)

When We Were Younger

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

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

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

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Kicking, Screaming, & Praising God

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

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

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

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

Write It Out And Believe

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

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

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

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

I Can’t Run From Myself

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

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

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

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

It’s Why I Keep Writing

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

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

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

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

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. John 9:1-3

It Never Fails To Happen

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

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

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

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

When You Can’t Sleep

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

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

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

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

Matthew 11:28-30

Don’t Just Survive

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

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

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

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

Broken Not Finished

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

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

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

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

(Philippians 1:6)

God Answered My Prayers

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

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

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

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

So Thankful For Rest & Relief

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

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

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

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

The Worse Days Of My Life

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

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

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

“ But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord I Thank You

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

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

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

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

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

There’s Nothing More Doctors Can Do

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

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

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

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

Waiting In Pain Is Hard

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

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

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

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

The Breakthrough Is Undeniable

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

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

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

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

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

I Guess I Need More Prayer

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

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

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

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

James 5:16

Let Me Fight For You

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

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

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

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

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

I Know Better

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

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

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

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

Understanding Your Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

This is just a sneak peek into understanding your pastor.

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

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!