My Reality Stinks, God Is Still Good

44607766-0A02-413B-B4AD-4E6137A50F86

My son has two band competitions left before he graduates. One this Saturday and one next Saturday. Today’s is the only one that their performance is early in the day and the award ceremony is not late at night. However, it would still be an all day affair. I’ve not been able to make it to one competition all year. All week, I’ve been determined to ride with my wife to today’s competition.
Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with burning nerve pain all night. You would think I’ve once again been in some terrible accident. From my back all the way down through both feet. I’m dealing with nonstop radiating and burning pain. I can’t believe I’m in this bad of shape after just sitting at a football game last night. I still can’t believe I’m able to hurt this bad. I’m still glad I got to be their last night for his senior night performance.
Even after 37 months I can hardly believe the severity of my nerve damage. I’m still believing God for my total healing. You can still have faith for tomorrow while dealing with your reality today. Well, my current reality stinks because there is no way I can go to this competition. If I did go I would literally be fried when I tried to get up Sunday morning to preach. I’ve got to keep accepting my limitations while trusting God with great expectations. Its not always easy and can be heartbreaking. No matter what God is still good and one day will change things.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Just Glad To Be There

BA685113-287E-4358-91AB-EF1470543984

Just got home from watching our home town high school Cougars play some football. They ended up losing in the fourth quarter, but I was just glad to be there. Had the honor of walking out on the field with my next to oldest son for senior night. This is his last year to march with the Band of Blue. I know one day I will miss these moments. 

I’m hurting pretty bad from sitting in the handicap section. However, I’m just glad I was able to sit period and take in the Friday night lights. You really don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Then, we had to wait an extra twenty minutes for my fifteen year old to come to the car. The old me would’ve gotten very mad and impatient. The new me said “well he is having a great time and you’re only that age once.”

Yep, sometimes you just gotta thank God for the opportunity in front of you. What we sometimes dread others would give anything to just be able to do. God is really working on me about having the right perspective. This comes at a time when everything feels more difficult and challenging. So, after a long night I was just glad I could be there. To take in a moment that won’t come again.

“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” (Ephesians 5:16)

Living On Fantasy Island

FANTASY ISLAND, Ricardo Montalban, Herve Villechaize, 1978-1984

The younger you are the more you live in a fantasy land. You grow up with dreams of how you picture life will be. Then as you get older and older true reality sets in. You realize grade school wasn’t that bad after all. That you thought you knew stress, but then you started paying your own bills. Day by day your fairytale life is destroyed. 

Now, I’m not saying that today I’m more miserable than I’ve ever been before. In fact, I’m very happy with my life. But, I do have a very clear honest perspective of this life. I’ve been with many people who literally felt they were dying of a broken heart. I’ve personally said goodbye to many people who I thought God took away way too early. I’ve hurt so deep before over life circumstances that I was sure I must be bleeding inside. 

All this to say that I don’t need anyone to tell me that this life is full of heartache, pain, suffering and sorrow. I also don’t need to be told that only Jesus can give me a peace that remains. A peace that can’t be taken away in this life and will be all I experience in the life to come. It’s so important we all know that some things can’t be found in a pill, bottle, life circumstance or any earthly relationship. I’m happy to say never changing peace can be found through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John16:33)

This One Exercise Changed So Much

3A690C0D-C164-45D2-8968-1F21830E140C

Today was my second day of physical therapy and trying to walk as much as possible without my cane. Still a lot of pain and stirring of my nerves going on within my body. I did add one other exercise that is making a big difference. I’ve intentionally done a lot of praising God for everything He has done, is doing, and will do on my behalf. I found my list of blessings far outweigh my list of issues.

God is really teaching me how to cope a lot better with my struggles. I’m focusing on the opportunities it gives me to encourage others. I’m focused on what I can change instead of what I can’t. I’m seizing every strong moment to spend with my family. God has really given me some major breakthrough recently and I’m so grateful.

I’m in the process of determining further ways I can support others going through similar chronic pain. I plan to have a weekly live virtual group where I facilitate an online support group. Also, I plan on having a monthly localized support group where people can find some Jesus with skin and connect with others going through similar pain. Last, but not least I have over 180 articles that I’ve written during my first 40 day faith walk and my total of 80 days fasting from social media. No one has read these articles as God has not led me to release them yet to others. Along with writing a book I plan on providing an online version of my 40 Day faith walk where participants will get to read daily exactly what I did, experienced, journaled, and saw God accomplish during my 40 Day Faith Walk. In my heart, I’ve chosen to see God’s goodness as far greater than all of the sadness.

“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)

Faith Check In Progress

FF1D8167-4B64-4772-9BB4-46719408C151

I’ve been in this position so many times in days gone by. Those moments when the body feels like quitting and the mind wonders why bother. Fortunately, I know I’m experiencing another one of those faith check moments. Am I going to believe in my gut or my God? Will I be led by my flesh or my faith?

I’ve got so many countless hours invested in this faith journey. God alone has brought me so far. Yet, I’ve still got so far to go. I believe I’m in the middle of another growing season. And the growing pains are so real and raw. Nothing beneath my skin feels comfortable.

Fortunately, I’ve been in this agonizing position before. God has proven every time He will give me the strength I need. How I feel doesn’t determine God’s plans. He knows where this all is headed. He has plans to use all this pain for my good and His glory. So, I choose once again to trust in the plans He has for me. God will help me pass through the next faith check moment.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Continuing To Make Life Adjustments

343B77A1-FA4C-43A1-AAEE-ED4B4B377948

Seems like no matter how hard I try I’m continually having to make life adjustments. What has worked in the past seasons of life simply isn’t working in this season. I’m continually running into my present limitations. I know in my my heart that I can only handle a small portion of what I used to be able to handle. It’s still very hard to accept, but it’s clearly my new reality.

Every time I come close to falling apart I try to trace my previous steps. Usually I’m able to see that I bit off way more than I could chew. For instance, if I try to do anything major on back to back days I’m usually headed towards a danger zone. I know if I don’t get the necessary hours of sleep on back to back nights I will soon be a nervous wreck. I also know that if I try to pour into others out of an empty cup that I’m playing with fire. I have to keep seeking God, praying and reading the Bible for myself.

While we often can diagnose other people’s problems we must keep evaluating our own issues. The only way to stay in God’s will is to keep making the necessary life adjustments. If we don’t a small problem can quickly become a much bigger problem. I have to keep re-evaluating my priorities, boundaries, time management, and physical limitations. Thank God for His continual grace and guidance through these matters.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Trusting God With The Past

C59A30B2-99EC-4183-AFBE-5D6D4E3EB27C

One Of My Favorite Past Pics

Time goes by so fast. We all have griefs and regrets. Moments in time we wish we could go have back. This imperfect life is full of broken roads and hearts. Even with many blessed moments our human minds always long for closure. We just wonder how we could have handled certain things differently in days gone by.

As my boys get older and taller than me I can’t help but reminisce about days gone by. We’ve had so many joyful moments and made so many lasting memories. However the past three years have been really tough for me both physically and emotionally. I’m especially sad about the moments I’ve missed with my boys. I always feel they really can’t understand how hard it’s been for me to just get around.

I’ve missed getting to enjoy many things with them that before I could easily do. There’s been no more throw and catch in the backyard. I’ve never gotten to coach my boys in baseball again. I’ve never forgotten those words “daddy if you’re not coaching my team then I’m not playing. I just like to be with you.” That son never played baseball again. I missed my oldest son’s entire senior year as pain blinded my view. I’ve missed taking my present senior son out fishing. He loved it when just he and I were on that water together. I’ve missed so many moments with my kids and wife that I can’t go back and relive.

Now, I’m sure there is someone reading this that looks back and wonders how life could’ve been so different. There comes a point we simply must trust God with all our broken roads. What if those were designed moments meant to teach you and your loved ones? Moments meant to slow you down and draw you closer? Moments God has used in the past to help you make the most of the present? Make sure you give God your yesterdays so He can help you make the most of your today.

“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)

3:30am And The Rain Continues

Caught In A Storm 

I’ve been fighting what I know is a spiritual attack from the enemy all night. The intensity of the attack has been relentless. I finally got my physical pain under control three hours ago. However, I’ve had to sleep sitting up in my bed all night due to my heart feeling like it’s nonstop racing. I know this is due to the medications I had to take. 

My wife bless her heart never leaves my side or let’s go of my hand during these times. It’s such a blessing to always have her by my side. Praise God she recognizes this kinda night is not typical anymore. She doesn’t try to fix me or take lightly my struggle. She just seeks to be a calming presence and helping hand. It’s amazing and inspiring to see what she has made look so easy over the past three years. 

I’m still sitting up trying to sleep as it remains my calmest position. I’m just so sensitive to most medications and usually have every side effect ever mentioned. Even still I know that tonight is just one tough night. I’ve been blessed with many good nights the past few months. My head has continuously nodded in and out of sleep. I’m confident that soon I will get some quality sleep.

Praise God my ability to cope has changed so much. My peace from God remains so strong. I have learned how to find true joy no matter what the circumstance. God continues to be so good to me and so much better than I deserve. 

(Psalm 143:8-12) “Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.”

I Want To Remember Today

img_0214

As I shared earlier my pain is somewhat blinding. Like it feels as if I was just recently in some terrible car wreck. As I continue to lay on my side I’m desperate for some relief. I’ve thrown all the meds I can at the pain. Now, I’m just waiting on something to knock me out.

I want to remember this day for sure. Not so I can look back and celebrate my pain. But, so I can look back later to celebrate what God has done. Look what God did when man said nothing could be done. I’m still in the fight, but I’m firmly clinging to my faith.

The reason I love journaling is it gives you something measurable. As you continually record your daily steps of faith you can see progression when you stay the course. I’m staying the course even if it’s a slow and steady grind. Today, I’m hurting really bad, but let’s see what God does in days to come. As I seek to do all that I can while trusting God to do all that I can’t.

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

No Pain No Gain

1298F9B8-37CC-4310-B36B-B0F2E938FA37

Well, I started the next phase of my recovery efforts today. I walked a good bit without my cane and did a few physical therapy exercises. It’s not been an easy day at all. In fact, now that I’ve tried laying down deep pain is flooding my body. I’m not surprised by it, but you never get used to it.

I’ve learned from the past that the only way forward is to walk through the pain. Every nerve fiber within me seems unhappy at the moment. My brain keeps telling me don’t do anymore of that again. My faith keeps telling me don’t give up. I know for certain that no pain equals no gain. Meaning things will have to feel unsettled before things will settle.

This deep throbbing pain reminds me of so many days gone by. In some ways it makes me think that nothing has changed. That I’m just fooling myself thinking things can get better. Think about it though how often do we have to go through extreme pain to experience real gain. The pain aims to frighten you, but God wants to use it to heighten you. You can’t run from it so you’ve just got to determine to walk through it. 

“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)

Trying To Give Up This Crutch

Crutch
For many months I’ve been using a cane morning, day, and night. I mean even if I’m just walking to the bathroom or kitchen inside my house. Actually, I’ve used it so long that it’s hard to remember what it’s like to walk without it. I feel so dependent upon it and unstable without it. Just leaning on it takes so much pressure off my already heavy, nerve damaged legs. Now, I’ve got to find a way to give up this crutch.
 
What I thought was helping me so much has actually weakened me. My hips and thighs can hardly bear my weight alone anymore. Anytime I try to stand or walk without my cane it feels so overwhelming. Trying to give up this crutch is going to take a determined effort, greater faith, and time. However, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get my lower body stronger.
 
I’ve been very faithful in my daily walking. But, now its time to quit leaning so much on this crutch if I’m going to get any stronger. I’m trying my best to start back some physical therapy exercises and I plan to hire a personal trainer. Each of us have some crutch in our lives. Something that we’re leaning a little too much on for a false sense of strength or security. Sometimes the only way to get stronger is to remove the crutch and learn to trust God with your weakness. There is no time like the present to start taking baby steps towards a stronger you in Christ.
 
“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Love Beyond The Surface

I’m somebody who doesn’t like to have a lot of surface conversation. I long to get down to the root of what’s really happening. You know, I share my story and you share yours. Where we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in our lives. Not just so we can cry together, but in hopes that we come together.

Often I say you really don’t know anybody until you know their story. What’s really going behind the scenes in their life. What have they been through and what are they going through. We often ask others how are they doing. Most often we don’t take the time to discover what is really going on in someone’s heart and life.

We should always take the time to show we care. How can we pray for one another. After all, prayer is not the least we can do it’s the greatest. Don’t judge that person walking by who might have good reason for their moodiness and stress. Maybe they’ve been abandoned, abused, or just got some very bad news. Maybe they’ve never felt loved or recently lost a very dear loved one. Maybe they need someone like you to take the time to prove you genuinely love someone like them.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

What If It Never Changes?

img_0214Been laying in this bed just waiting for my legs to quit throbbing and my lower back to quit aching. My wife has seen this routine hundreds of times. She tries her best to relieve the pressure. I try my best to not get too discouraged by my constant reality. However, I can’t help but wonder….

What if this never changes this side of Heaven? What if this is a permanent thorn in my flesh? Can I bear the struggle without it overcoming me? Can I maintain the strength I’ve worked so hard to regain? I can answer all those questions very quickly. I absolutely can’t, but Christ in me can!

Unfortunately, none of us get to choose the thorn in our flesh. It seems to be chosen for us. We’re each in a season for a God appointed reason. A season that always requires us to be fully reliant on God. Only in Christ can we make it through and allow God to carry out His purpose through us. 

“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

I Wasn’t Feeling It

img_0281Recently, I preached back to back Sunday morning services while sitting down. It’s done wonders for my back since we found a high comfortable chair. While I was more comfortable in my new chair I was less comfortable in my mind. My morning meds had a huge grip on my ability to concentrate. There’s nothing harder than preaching to a room full of people while struggling to feel confident inside. I was very sure of the message God had given me, but the devil was having a field day in my mind.

The entire time I was preaching I was praying. Dear God please don’t let my condition get in the way of your message. Please don’t let these people think I’m crazy as I struggle to stay focused. God please keep me strong and your message clear. It literally looked like everything around me was spinning. A few cups of coffee were simply no match for the Neurontin fog that had a hold of my brain. I struggled from beginning to end. I just kept praying God would override my weakness.

Afterwards, I had several people tell me the message really touched their heart. I told one person that I was really battling to focus and not feeling at all like being up on that stage. That I had to pray desperately for divine intervention. They said, “Like you said to us. It’s not always about how you feel, but having faith.” I guess that was simply God forcing me to literally practice what I was preaching. As I struggled to see clearly God was navigating for me.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

4 Ways Parents Shouldn’t Communicate

2987F4C1-86D2-4708-9F97-C6F79BB39176

I’m presently trying to adjust to being a parent of a college student, a high school senior, a freshman and a third grader. Often it’s like riding a bull that at any moment could throw you off. Like most parents my heart’s desire is to be a perfect parent. Unfortunately, I fall short daily of the man I hope to be. Therefore, for my sake and yours I’m going to list four ways parents shouldn’t communicate to their children. All of which I’ve done and realize the error of my ways. 

One, never is it good to act out of anger. I remember my dad saying many times he needed to cool down before he disciplined me. You see, each time I deserved a spanking and my dad had reason to be upset. However, dad knew that his anger would lead him to act way out of character and take things to the extreme. Every time I respond to my children in the heat of my anger I usually only create greater issues. I end up looking like an angry child myself and modeling absolutely no self-control.

Two, never is it good to compare your child with another. I have four boys and each of them are extremely different. I’ve made the mistake of saying you need to do this or that like your brother. Sadly, at that point I’m already creating a perceived favoritism. Most children are very sensitive and absorb way more of our words than we realize. They already live in a society that compares and tears each other apart. Anything we address with our children needs to be personalized and beneficial. Comparing them to anyone only makes them believe they don’t measure up. 

Three, never is it good to play tug of war. Too often we go back and forth in heated discussion with our children. When we do it means we’ve chosen to pick up our side of the rope and join in a game of tug of war. Often our children tempt us to negotiate our authority. While what each has to say is important we have to act as the authority figure. We need to draw clear lines, boundaries, and let them know disobedience will not be tolerated. But, we need to not give into the temptation of yelling at each other like we’re siblings. I’ve fallen prey many times to a shouting match with one of my boys. The better approach is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Trying to be your child’s best friend is often not an option. You have to keep yourself composed while making sure your school age child knows you are the parent.

Finally, never is it good to not own your issues. Meaning you should always apologize when you’ve crossed the line. You should acknowledge when you’ve provoked your child to anger. You should admit when you’ve provided a terrible example for them to follow. Just trying to be right at all cost is never a good agenda. No parent is always right and it’s important we admit our human imperfections. I can remember every time my dad said son I’m sorry and I will always love you. Owning your wrongness is just as important as addressing their wrongness. I pray that each of us might apply these truths as we seek to be the best parents only God can make us. 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Another Late Night

Every night seems to be the same. I take several meds in hopes of falling asleep. I turn my heating pad on it’s highest setting. I wait on my legs to quit throbbing. I put on some special cream to hopefully stop my hands and feet from itching. Literally, I’ve got one area in my lower back that causes my entire nervous system to daily go haywire.

How do I make it? I choose to keep walking by faith. To believe that God can use this struggle. To trust God still has a plan. I choose to obey God regardless of what my future might hold. Of course, the pain has long out stayed it’s welcome.

If I didn’t have faith I would have long ago given up. If I didn’t have faith I couldn’t see beyond the moment. If I didn’t have faith I would stay medicated and not want to wake up. But, I do have faith that God will move mountains. I’ve just got to stay the course and keep trusting God with every step I take.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Dear Special Friend

68BCC481-771F-497E-8FC8-5B83376D7CF4I’m not sure where to begin as I celebrate your birthday. I’ve seen so much firsthand that I might could write a book. First, I’m gonna give a shout out to your pops. Apart from him being one of my hospice patients we would likely never have met. Before he transitioned to Heaven he just kept saying “I just want to touch one more life.” I promised him that I would stay in connection to you and your Uncle Ronald. Crazy as it sounds God had already given me a vision of both of you walking into Refuge Church. That absolutely happened not long after his passing.

Now, five years later I can’t believe all I’ve seen with my own eyes. Three years ago God spared your life and you had successful triple bypass surgery. Then, God changed your life from the inside out. When you gave your life to Jesus Christ the change was obvious. What a joy it was to later baptize you, your wife and daughter. 

Who could have thought that two years later you would be on staff at Refuge. God has used you to facilitate the gospel truth to hundreds in church and online. Like you’ve said, “Saturdays are no longer the biggest game day for you.” Sundays and throughout each week God is using your skills to connect God’s love to thousands through social media. One day many of those people will find through you what you’ve already found only in Jesus Christ. 

On top of all of this and more you’ve truly become one of my best friends. You’ve encouraged me countless days through one of the toughest seasons of my life. One of my most moving moments was when you first asked to pray for me. I’m thinking, “Is this the same guy I met a few years back?” Indeed, it was and I’m extremely grateful for your prayers, family, and life. I guess Pops didn’t know that he wouldn’t just touch one more life, but countless others. I truly believe the best is yet to come for you! Happy Birthday brother Trey Asbelle.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

How Am I Doing?

I’ve had so many wanting to know how I’m feeling. And, I do sincerely appreciate your every concern and prayer. The good news is I’m not where I used to be. The tough news is I’m still far from where I long to be. 80 days ago I stepped away in hopes of rebooting my recovery efforts. You see, I was only hanging on by a thread. I knew something drastic had to be done for that to change. 

The goal of at least rebooting my consistent recovery efforts has been accomplished. The last 80 days I’ve only had 3 days that I’ve not reached my daily strategic walking goals. What does that mean? I’m back to doing everything I can on my part towards my healing. And, while I may not be miraculously healing forward I no longer feel like I’m just rolling backwards. 

Outside of my consistent walking something has dramatically changed. I’m learning to cope a lot better with my condition. I recognize my limitations. I’m striving to embrace my new normal. I’m doing my best to work through it and not just wallow in it. In many ways my struggles are just as real as ever. But, it’s also just as real that God is giving me exactly what I need everyday to bear with the struggles. 

Just like before I’m not going to get on here and pretend all things are easy. However, as I sought God with all my heart the past 80 days He has brought some much needed breakthrough. I wasn’t expecting Him to fix everything at once. I was just asking Him to renew my mind and strength for the journey. I can clearly see how He continues to use this uncomfortable battle for His glory. And, at the end of this brief life that’s all matters. One day or another I will receive my total healing. Until then, I will continue to praise God from whom all blessings flow. 

(Psalm 86:12)(NLT)  With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God. I will give glory to your name forever, 

80 Days Disconnected

 55C8EE28-B25B-4658-8917-48C29BA9B67B

Eighty days ago God led me to fast from all social media. I remember thinking “Is this even possible for me?” Many know I’ve always been very active on my Facebook pages and online blog. However, I knew God was calling me to disconnect for awhile in order to focus most on Him and my health. 

For the first forty days I was not only disconnected online but I took a complete 40 day sabbatical from even preaching. I simply pursued God on what I felt led to call a 40 day faith walk. Everyday I memorized and meditated on a new scripture. I prayed relentlessly for God’s healing in my mind, heart, and body. Several times a day I wrote in my reflections journal. I walked daily with my cane just hoping for a breakthrough. 

At the end of the first forty days my mind and heart were stronger than ever. Even with my body still struggling to keep up I knew I was getting stronger on the inside by the day. With God’s help I attempted to fast another 40 days from all social media. My recovery momentum and inward strength have kept increasing. 

What I thought was just a season has now become a way of life. Here I am having gone 80 days totally disconnected from the online world. I’m thrilled to be back for sure. However, I’m most excited to be back stronger spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically than I was before. 

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his face always!” Psalm 105:4

In A Waiting Chamber

3FD57B10-4BC4-4E0E-8B7F-4768D1FF9A7EWe’ve all heard the saying “good things come to those who wait.” I absolutely agree this is the case in many instances. However, no one ever said it would be easy. Life is full of waiting chambers every step of the way. The older we get we realize the importance of patience but I’m not sure we ever like the process.

A child is told wait until you get older then you can do that. A teenager hears wait until you have your own car, job and home then you can make the rules. A young adult is told just wait on the right person God has for you to marry. A young married couple is told wait until you’ve saved up enough money before you buy that dream house or car. The hardworking senior citizen is told wait one day you can retire. Then, there are even those on a suffering death bed that are told just wait one day you will be in a place with no more suffering. Personally I’m in a season of great physical pain. Yet, I’m waiting and trusting God for my healing.

What waiting chamber does life find you? It may or may not have been mentioned. However, we are always waiting for something we believe is God’s will, but may not be God’s timing. In these waiting seasons, it’s so important we realize God is at work. Life may feel at a standstill but God is working everything for our good and His glory. Don’t be afraid to wait on the Lord. In fact, it’s the person living carelessly and impatiently that creates the biggest train wrecks. So don’t be afraid to wait. You aren’t called to chase God’s will. You’re called to seek God’s will and trust God’s perfect timing.

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

40 Days Of Purpose

3578C7FE-20A7-4E05-8D5E-2D55752E3579I’m about to do something that will be very challenging for me. Many of you know I’m very active on social media. I’m used to posting daily on Facebook and my personal blog as God leads. Well, God is presently leading me to do just the opposite. Starting 12:01a.m. July 24th I will be fasting for 40 Days from ALL social media. Nope, I won’t even glance at it and will remove all apps from my phone.

I’ve got to focus on my healing and not just my pain. Please keep me in your prayers as I seek to be obedient to God’s leading and trust God for my breakthrough miracle. I believe God is reshaping and rebuilding me for greater things ahead. But, I can’t do most of those things if I don’t take care of myself. I’ve got to do all I can while I can in hopes of my recovery. 

“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)

Easier Said Than Done

I find myself at a very nerve wrecking crossroad. It’s real easy to say I fully trust God with my future. However, my anxiety levels let me know that my mind is struggling to agree with my heart. I so want to believe God for my healing. Yet, the way my body presently feels makes me wonder if greater improvement is even possible.

This unfamiliar crossroads is testing my faith down to its core in ways the past has never done. Can I put my mind over matter and reboot my recovery process? Can I fully trust God to do what I haven’t been able to do in 34 months? Can I simply take one faith step at a time towards where God is leading me to follow? Can I totally free fall putting everything into God’s hands? Or will I keep putting the demands on my shoulders?

I’m so tired of this journey and my body feels weaker than ever before. Yet, quit is not an option. I’ve got too many reasons to keep fighting. But, I know if I’m to get any stronger I’ve got to trust God every step of the way. I’ve got to let the past go and let God totally lead me in the present towards a brighter future. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that faith is not about how I feel about things. It’s fully trusting God with everything for greater things I can’t do by myself.

Lord Jesus “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

(Matthew 9:24)

In Over My Head Again

99FF5C35-B5D1-4EFD-BFD6-A56CDFD01635It’s 9pm and I’ve literally only been awake and out of my bed for seven hours. However, that hasn’t stopped my nervous system from crashing for the one millionth time. In these moments, there is nothing I can do to stop what follows these episodes. I typically feel something like fluid rising up within and above my chest. Very soon behind that are emotions that all I can do is cry out of my system. 

Every neurological breakdown is so awakening and humbling. It’s like I can’t believe I’m still in this bad of shape. My blood pressure is still having to be checked and kept in check daily. And, while I hate how my newly added medication makes me feel I can’t take my condition lightly. So, I’ve taken all my nightly medications again just hoping I will be fast asleep soon!

Here I go again Lord acknowledging that I’m a broken yet blessed vessel. I’m emotionally crushed yet not destroyed. I don’t stand a chance at beating this battle by myself yet it’s nothing for You to calm this raging storm. I’m being gracefully broken so that You oh Lord can make me stronger than ever before. Into Your arms I free fall. I surrender all of my past, present and future to You.

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead. Because I am God, your personal God…” 

(Isaiah 43:1-3)(The Message)

Desperate For Good Luck

2A5383DF-55C8-429B-96EC-D7B1B5EBDDCDWe’ve all heard the following saying a few times in our life. That being “if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” It’s starting to feel this way in our household. Without going into detail most would be amazed at the volume of letdowns and breakdowns we’ve experienced in the past few months alone. After awhile it just leaves you shaking your head in disbelief, shock, and major letdown.

Now, I really don’t base my hopes on good or bad luck. However, I would be a liar if I didn’t say continuous letdowns don’t bring you down. If I’ve ever felt low it’s certainly been over the past few months. My wife and I both are very tired and discouraged all at once. Those two things combined rarely produce anything great except depression. 

Now, I can tell what satan hopes to do to the Crosby family. He hopes to steal our joy, peace, and purpose. He plans to keep pouncing in hopes that we will feel hopeless. Fortunately, we know our hope has never rested on our luck or the number of our trials. Our hope rest only in whose we are and who we are in Christ. Nothing can steal that hope and it will keep us anchored through this trying season and beyond.

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

(Hebrews 6:19)

I Lost MY Super Powers

Earlier I literally thought I heard someone screaming for help. Come to find out it was just someone’s television capturing my attention. Just the sound of potential crisis alone sent shockwaves through my entire nervous system. I used to be someone that could help and handle just about any crisis situation. Now just the sound of something difficult melts me from my head down to my toes.

It’s so hard to explain my nerve damage to just anyone. First of all, it feels like someone went into my body’s nervous system breaker box. Then, after unplugging every wire they plugged them all back into the wrong places. When things aren’t kept under control I feel a cold, piercing, miserable vibration from my feet to my face. I’m talking within just a few seconds of my nervous system malfunction.
Without my Spinal Cord Stimulator, medications and my good Lord Jesus Christ I can’t imagine how I could go on. My shipwrecked nervous system has proved to be my kryptonite. It has humbled me to my very core. It has revealed my complete dependence on a God who knows way more than me. It has stolen my seeming super powers, but it’s also helped me realize the only certain source of power.
“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)

Hope Despite Chaos

2C85DBDB-CCFC-45F3-B882-F6FE2C64C327Right now my entire life feels upside down. Just simply walking is a chore. Trying to think clearly is nearly impossible with my medications. My days feel so long and agonizing. I’m literally giving everything over to God by the minute. It’s only because of Him I still have confidence and peace moving forward.
If anyone could see clearly into my chaos they would wonder how I can have such hope. They would likely wonder if I need my brain checked. They would probably see all of my expectations as wishful thinking. That I just need to accept my physical condition and what it will forever bring into my life. However, those people would be looking through eyes of the flesh not faith.
I’m not banking any of my hopes on my condition or power to change it. I have no idea what will or will not be tomorrow. But, I know God does have a master plan. He will carry me through every up and down ahead. He will not fail me, nor forsake me. Whatever has happened or will happen will not ruin His plans for my life. Therefore, I’m keeping my little hand in His big hand. I’m waiting and trusting God for my healing. For the bright future He has promised to those who love, honor, and wait on Him.
“But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31

There Is No In Between

img_0230I’m certain that if you polled 1000 people who battle severe chronic pain you would discover most have the following in common. When it comes to being in pain there is rarely any in between. Either you’re totally uncomfortable in pain. Or you’re in total zombie mode with limited pain. At least this has been my experience so far in my long journey. 

The past 48 hours my pain has been greatly decreased. I can actually say it’s been consistently manageable. My stimulator is buzzing away the best it has up to this point. My old and new medications are working wonders as if I had a constant morphine drip inside. There is only one big problem I’m still miserable. 

Each of my legs feel 100 pounds a piece. My head feels like it’s constantly spinning. I feel groggy and in need of sleep all day. In fact, it feels like an absolute chore just to get out of the bed and go to the bathroom. I’m praying this is just a season and I can either get used to the meds or get to quit taking them soon. I’ve certainly felt more depressed than encouraged. It’s either due to my meds or just the awareness of my condition. Who know maybe it’s a combo of both. 

Deep within I’m far from giving up this fight towards recovery. Yet, I’ve had to wave my white flag admitting this battle is way bigger than me. I feel like a hostage inside of my own body. A lot in my life right now is not easy and could easily crush my spirit. I’m praying constantly and trusting God for my breakthrough. My legs ache and my heart hurts. I feel like I’m in the bottom of a deep well filled with water up to my eyeballs. All I can do is cry out to my God for help. So far, He has never let go of my hand or let me drown.

“You do what is right, so come to my rescue. Listen to my prayer and keep me safe.” Psalm 71:2

WARNING: Mood Swings Ahead

All my medications have one big thing in common. They affect my mood and mind from sun up to sun down. Often I don’t even feel like the same person I used to be. However, I know underneath it all I’m still here. I just don’t like the way any of it makes me feel.

My stimulator is working as well as ever. My overall pain has been very manageable the past few days. Yet, the trade off is I feel like I’m living in slow motion. My ability to process things is so much harder. My ability to enjoy anything is so much harder. My legs feel like they keep getting weaker and weaker.

I don’t need anyone to tell me I have permanent nerve damage in my lower body. Just a short walk feels like I’ve got 90 year old legs. Sure, I wonder if it will always be this way. Even more unsettling is pondering how much worse could things become over time. The “what if” questions could drive anyone crazy. Yet, worrying about things you can’t control changes nothing.

Jesus said, “And which of you by worrying can add one hour to his life’s span? So if you are not even able to do a very little thing [such as that], why are you worried about the rest? Consider the lilies and wildflowers, how they grow [in the open field]. They neither labor nor spin [wool to make clothing]; yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory and splendor dressed himself like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass which is in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You of little faith! So as for you, do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink; nor have an anxious and unsettled mind. For all the [pagan] nations of the world greedily seek these things; and your [heavenly] Father [already] knows that you need them. But [strive for and actively] seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

(Luke 12:25-31)(Amplified)

Feeling Much Better Today

I started my blood pressure meds yesterday evening. I’m happy to say it’s now totally under control. I don’t like the way it makes me feel, but I’m told that wears off after awhile. Either way I know the alternative of not taking it is much worse than taking it. I just hated adding one more medication to my already long list.

Other than being woken up early by my morning medicine alarm I slept almost 11 hours. I’m so happy to not have the headache I had when I went to bed last night. I feel winded and my nerves are still a little shaky. But, I believe my body just needs a little more time to settle down and recover. I am someone who always listens and obeys any doctor’s orders.

Overall, it was just another wake up call where God put me in the right place at the right time. At the time my blood pressure hiked I did have a lot on my mind. You can only live in great pain and under great pressure but so long. It was all just tackling me at once and I’m so glad God has eased much of my anxiety. However, I’m still in the process of making major life adjustments in an effort towards hopefully discovering a much healthier me. I firmly believe that you must always be seeking to be healthy before you try to be helpful to others.

“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’m Gonna Be Okay

I’m ok getting something to eat and then heading home to get the blood pressure meds they are putting me own. Said they believe my high level pain for so long has definitely taken its toll. I’m still very light headed but the Valium has helped my anxiety. I was so scared for s short while as I just didn’t see my breakdown coming. I will feel much better once I start the blood pressure meds! Thanks for all your prayers!

Sitting Inside Roper Express Care

img_0214-1Earlier I arrived at my scheduled appointment with my back surgeon. We didn’t even get started talking about my health before I knew they needed to check my blood pressure ASAP. My face was flush and I felt extremely light headed. In addition my legs were just aching and trembling. Plus my right shoulder was throbbing with pain surging throughout my arm. The second it was checked the nurse said we’ve got to get you to an ER or Urgent Care.

I felt something going on prior to my arrival that I knew just wasn’t right. They were surprised my blood pressure could be so high considering I had already taken an emergency only Valium 55 minutes earlier. My doctor dialogued with me briefly and then I just lost it. My tears were more than someone hurting or afraid. They were tears of brokenness. I have to admit that I’ve finally hit my absolute breaking point.

This has been building for days and one might say over the past 34 months. But, this time God has sent me a clear memo. I can’t at this time take anything lightly and must make some major adjustments to find any greater healing. My humanity has reared it’s ugly ahead. I will be making some immediate changes so please keep me in your prayers. I’m much calmer right this moment as they say I’ll be waiting in this room for 20-25 minutes. With God’s help I will be alright. But, only God can heal the brokenness that consumes me. I will keep you all informed as I become informed. But, it just does me good to process just a glimpse of my struggle and emotion.

Starting Monday Right

32E571FA-1B16-4C2A-A54B-186B4263FCF6I’ve been up since 5am due to a body that continues to fail me. However, I’m thrilled God woke me up another day. I know there is not a day that He has created for me that’s not purposeful. As long as there is breath within me I’m looking forward as I seek His good, pleasing, and perfect will. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, but everything done in Christ is worth it. 

As I start a brand new week I’m asking God to lead my every thought, attitude, and action. I’m putting my every fear, failure, and doubt in His hands. In fact, I’m sure I will have to keep doing this throughout the day and the week ahead. My highest goal is to walk with God. I don’t want to take one step that doesn’t come with His full blessing. 

So, even on a Monday when I barely feel I can get out of bed I rejoice. God woke me up for a purpose so that I can live out His purpose. Lord take my life and make it a love offering for you. Continue to make me more like You whatever that takes. May others see Jesus in and through me. Let that be the case starting inside my home and beyond. Thank you for another day to get it right by letting You lead. 

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

Present Health Concerns 7/15/18

Praying man silhoutte

Wow! The past few days have not been kind to my health. My heart feels like it wants to jump out of my chest. Yesterday and today my blood pressure has been very high for me. I’ve felt light headed off and on. And, no I’m not taking any of what’s going on lightly. In fact, I would be lying if I didn’t say it all has me very concerned. 

Tomorrow, I have a 2:15 doctor’s appointment already so I will address the blood pressure concerns with him. Just a lot on my mind, on my plate, and going on inside of my body. All I can do is take every possible precautionary step towards watching my health. Of course, if my blood pressure remains high for days then I’m sure I would have to add another medication to my present pill box. 

Anyhow, just keep me in your prayers. I feel nauseous, my skin feels flushed with nerve pain, and I keep having bouts of light headiness. Sometimes all you can do is pray, pray, and pray some more. Others who battle with such health issues know very well what I’m talking about. Because of all I’ve seen throughout my years in ministry I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. I will keep you all informed as I become informed. However, on a side note at least my itching seems under control for now. God bless you all. 

Still A Nervous Wreck

99FF5C35-B5D1-4EFD-BFD6-A56CDFD01635I finally fell asleep for a few minutes thanks to all my medications. Then, suddenly, I was startled back awake by some nearby sound. I really have no idea what it was that triggered my nerves. However, my wife can testify that the least little thing can make my entire body jump. Especially when my nerve pain is at this high level.

You would think my nervous system can detect anything moving within a country mile. It can be someone just quietly walking near me. It might be a door being gently closed. I’m gonna hear it and my nerves are going to be jolted. If there is any force of energy or sound nearby my wrecked nervous system will pick it up. 

Basically anytime the pain around my L5 S1 disc escalates you can bank the rest of my nerves will pay the price. You would think I had been in a recent car accident.  The pain is still that fresh. I believe my back could serve as a great metal detector. Threaten to put anymore mental inside of me and I guarantee it would go crazy. I pray to God these nerves will repair themselves and my crazy jerk reactions stop someday soon.

“He continues to forgive all your sins, he continues to heal all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:3)

Sometimes You Need Counseling

Hopefully my nighttime meds will have made me comfortable and able to sleep soon. First thing in the morning my wife will be taking me back to see my counselor. It always seems my appointments come at just the right time. It’s as if God orchestrates it all when it’s needed most. I can’t wait to get there and just process all that is going on in my heart and life.

Most people don’t realize that most pastors don’t have pastors. There is no one running us down to check on us. Many seek to get help from you even when they know you’re very sick. However, people tend to forget that pastors are human, have problems, families, and need encouragement. It’s nothing I hold against anyone it’s just the gospel truth.

I believe in doing everything possible to stay healthy. When I walk in my counselor’s office in the morning I will fully take off my mask. I won’t be Pastor Craig, but I will just be Craig. A man who’s far from perfect, doesn’t have all the answers, and knows when to reach out for help. I typically always leave these appointments better than I felt before I came. I can only pray this visit leaves me much the same.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

This Breaks My Heart Most

0C2EB5B3-D7FF-49C0-9578-B2B7BCBEDE16My chronic pain has caused so much heartache in its 34 months of existence. I wish I was just talking about my own heart. Unfortunately, this season of suffering has reached into every part of my family. It honestly breaks my heart most knowing that my condition has stolen such joy from my wife and boys. It’s nothing I’m doing on purpose, but I’m realizing it’s the nature of this beast. I’ve seen too many tears shed and moments ruined all because of my struggle and chronic illness. 

It’s just so hard to pretend like you feel good when inside you feel so bad. With my nerve pain I’m far from patient or the best of company. My misery just keeps pouring out of my veins. I simply can’t handle more than twenty five percent of what I used to be able to handle. A small conversation can quickly turn into confrontation. My irritableness and pain sucks the used to be fun out of just about every family gathering. And, it breaks my heart over and over again.

Right this moment all my skin is crawling underneath. I feel like someone has set me on fire and I’m just watching myself go up in smoke. But, as bad as I feel in so many ways I wish it was just me suffering. I long to tell my wife the battle is over. I want to tell my kids that daddy is back to normal. However, for now all I can keep doing is trying to ride this bull of pain that is my present normal. 

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)

Nerves, Allergies, Cattle

I had a long day yesterday and I’m just getting to share how things went at my medical appointments. Overall, I was very pleased by the care I received and the help I’ve been given. However, after reading up on some things I’m a little perplexed about one diagnosis.

First, I’m very optimistic about my spinal cord stimulator. Yesterday was the first adjustment I’ve gone to where I knew exactly what I needed to ask my programming representative. My device was originally set on a setting where it ran for 30 seconds on and then off for 1 1/2 minutes. After getting over stimulated so much my rep back in June set it where it ran for 30 seconds on and then 5 minutes off. Due to not getting enough from that setting she created every variation in between so I can see which works best for me over time. I can turn my unit to being off for 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 minute now. Shortly explained I’m learning how to drive this vehicle known as my spinal cord stimulator. You never master it, but it’s extremely important you have the setting that helps your nervous system the most.

My other appointment was seeing a dermatologist for the first time. They took off a place on my face and my stomach that looked very suspicious. Removing them was painless and I really like being proactive when it comes to your health. Of course, I won’t find out for two weeks whether they were benign.

What I don’t agree with her on is her diagnosis of my skin breakouts. At that time, I had no way of educating myself concerning what she was saying about my itching skin. We both agreed that it is stress and nerve fed for sure. And it’s stimulated even further by hot water, sweat, tight clothing, and even not keeping your skin moisturized. But, I believe she is pretty off with saying that I have Dermatographism. In fact, after looking it up I know without a doubt she is wrong.

“Dermatographism is a common form of hives that appears due to stroking, rubbing, or scratching of the skin, or when tight-fitting clothes rub the skin.” Yes, any of my areas of various rashes are irritated more by scratching. But, most of the time I’m not even touching the places that are already burning red. Bottom line is my stuff is so much more than her observation. She said, “ I don’t doubt that you have Neurodermatitis from all your nerve damage. But I believe you have this as well because I personally have similar symptoms.”

Looking back I don’t think she liked me telling her that my doctor had already said he was fairly certain I had Neurodermatitis. I showed her all my pictures and shared all my symptoms. Yet, she told me it wasn’t necessary to take my medication three times a day for my Neurodermatitis as prescribed by my primary doctor. Well, just by not taking the nightly dose alone woke me up 3am itching like crazy.

We settled on the fact that we must deal with all the potential trigger points which are many. I must take every helpful medication both related to my nerves and allergies. They literally said I should take a shower every time I sweat. They also told me I should only be in lukewarm water even in the shower. I basically have to wash with special soap and then follow that with moisturizing cream.

She wrote me a prescription for Zyrtec and Hydroxyzine which I already take. Then, a prescription for ranitidine (Zantac) that surprised me, but here is how it works in tandem with Zyrtec. “There is a chemical in the skin that can cause allergy symptoms like hives. … H2 blockers: You may be told to take more than one type of antihistamine at a time for your hives. Medicines like famotidine (Pepcid) or ranitidine (Zantac) can be used together with other treatments. Mild cases of hives may not need treatment. But moderate to severe cases require antihistamines or steroid pills. Stomach medicines that have some antihistamine effect, like ranitidine, may also help.”

Anyway, I now have the peace we’re doing everything possible to contain my nerve pain and my itching. If there is one thing I’ve learned about doctors it’s the fact they too don’t have all the answers. Just like as a pastor I don’t have all the answers. But, doctors need to not be so quick to label you with something without enough observation or understanding of your specific struggle. No two people are completely alike. And, I feel many of your bigger medical places are just used to quickly throwing certain meds and labels at you. They herd you like cattle in and out of their office. And, let’s face it how can you understand someone’s condition when 5 minutes after you walk in the room you’re already positive of the problem. While there may be some degree of educated guessing most doctors need to treat each patient as if it were one of their own family members. Listen, learn, and then direct us the best you can. Overall, I got what a prayed yesterday at both visits. Thanks for your prayers.

If I Had A Genie In A Bottle

We all have something we wish to God was different. Something we feel limits us, cripples us, and if we let it paralyzes us. It’s that one thing that if you did have a genie in a bottle it would be in your top three wish list that it be taken away. In your mind, life would be so much different if this or that could be changed. This is totally how I feel about my nerve damage.

I just finished having another one of those moments that I hate every time it happens. My nerve pain just made my blood pressure sky rocket. In these moments it’s like a fuse has blown inside of me. I can’t have normal conversation or handle much of anything. These nerve bouts steal my ability to process things in a clear or controlled fashion. My wrecked nervous system keeps me from wanting to be around just anyone not knowing what might happen next. When my nerve pain rages it doesn’t ask my permission. I’m simply at the mercy of my condition which can change like the weather. Oh, how I wish this seeming curse would be removed.

Dr. David Jeremiah a well known, beloved pastor has battled cancer like so many. In his book “When Your World Falls Apart” he offers some much needed insight. He says,”Trials put us in position to make a difference. They are for our benefit, as unwelcome as they are at the time. They make us better men and women, which makes us more influential men and women who can make a difference for God’s purposes. When you have walked through the fire, people begin to listen to you. When you have the wisdom borne of suffering, you begin to have the tools to accomplish something in the world.”

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:67,71)

Just Looking For More Answers

Well, I’ve got too real Big appointments today that a very dear brother in Christ is taking me to today. The first is to the dermatologist. I’m very interested to see what they say about my neurodermatitis that has to constantly be dealt with by meds, creams and limiting my time around water, heat, sweat, etc. It’s really is complicated all the things that can flare it up. The pics below are just a glimpse of what’s sitting on my skin at the moment. 

Immediately following that appointment I’ve got to get my stimulator adjusted. I’m learning how this thing works by the day. There is literally a million different settings you could choose to manage your nervous system. I’ve had this thing implanted in me for just over a year. I can tell it has a lot of power, but it has to be aligned often much like a car. June 13th was my last adjustment so it’s been not nearly a month before  it got out of whack again. Anyway, I’ve got to get it readjusted to what hopefully provides me a little more relief. 

Pray for all of these appointments to give answers and relief. I’ve gone to enough wasted visits in the past. I’m believing God for my break through daily. I’m far from giving up even though my body is pure exhausted. And it really does take a long time for nerves to heal. Bottom line is apart from God they will never heal. So, I’m counting on Him more than them!

“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)

Another Piece Of Humble Pie

6B9C9121-5B86-4127-BC9E-C1B04EBED3BFAll things considered my day didn’t start out bad at all. For me, feeling like I’ve been kicked in my lower back repeatedly is normal. What I always fear most is having a complete neurological breakdown. From my view there didn’t seem to be one one in the forecast. That was until it hit me like a category five hurricane. 

I was almost done preaching the first worship service. I could feel my nerves reaching high tide. By that I mean, I knew that it wouldn’t be long  before I would be crying uncontrollably. Praise God, I made with my cane the short walk to my church office. Then the dam broke and every emotion inside me broke loose. Surrounding me were some of my key leaders and best of brothers in Christ.

Even still, I wanted to just run out of the building. The neurological seizure I had made me feel so vulnerable. Like a kindergarten boy who has fallen down during recess and doesn’t want his friends to see him cry a river. Well, I had no choice but to cry it out. It took me around 20 minutes to cry the edge off my blinding pain. It’s the only thing that allowed me to preach the next worship service.

I had no choice but to start my sermon off acknowledging what was happening. Being honest allowed me to process a little what feels impossible to fully describe. I felt in need of all the grace and prayers anyone would freely give me. It’s like you feel naked standing up in front of everyone. I can’t deny that it took me to a whole new level of humility. 

I understand now what a guy once said to me when I was helping him during a family crisis. Tears filled his eyes as his ego didn’t want to receive the grace and help he desperately needed at that time. He said, “I sure would rather be the one offering you a hand up instead of having to take this handout.” We both were dealing with something similar it’s called pride. I didn’t think I had any of that left in me. But, today revealed there is still room for me to grow and learn through humility. 

“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psalm 25:9)

Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes

You name it and I’ve seen it in some form or fashion on my body. While I can’t completely stop the Neurodermatitis I’m finally able to contain it. The medication most used for this is Hydroxyzine for those dealing with this nerve driven breakout.

I’ve been referred to a Neurologist for further evaluation. You scratch it once you will have a wildfire. Yo add water, sweat or heat and it will multiply quickly. If you get stressed or anxious about anything it will pop up out of nowhere. I’ve had it everywhere from the neck down.

I’ve concluded this book once I write it will be more than just a few chapters. Maybe instead “Faith Walking” I should call it “Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes.”

Does Life Feel Upside Down?

8D56B751-512D-4589-8C56-0E7C8D0C497CI’m simply writing these words as God leads. Nothing about me having all the answers, but I can certainly relate to life feeling upside down. I’ve been in the biggest battle of my life for quite some time. Physically, mentally, emotionally and for sure spiritually. I just quit posting everything on this personal page because I don’t want to overload you all with my issues.

God put it on my heart that some of you need to know somebody else doesn’t have it all together. I try my best daily to fight the good fight of faith. However, even on my best days it’s still a fight. I’ve certainly battled with moments of confusion, depression, and even fear of what the future might hold. By God’s grace I keep getting out of the bed. 

I keep feeling like I’m one step away from absolutely falling apart. Yet, God keeps carrying me through the seemingly impossible. I’ve been dog paddling by faith in very deep waters for over 2 1/2 years. God has proven several things to me through this valley He is still walking me through. Maybe you need to hear it for your valley. 

I’ve learned God will not put on you more than “He” can handle. God will not leave your side no matter how alone or misunderstood you may feel. God will supply all your needs even when you don’t know how you will pay those bills. God will place people in your life that can encourage and support you through your humbling journey. 

Bottom line is even when your life may feel upside down God is still putting things in order. He uses our pain as a platform to purposely display His grace. He uses our struggles to shape our faith and draw us closer than ever before. He often has to allow us to be in situations far beyond our control so He can reveal that He’s still in control. Whatever your battle have no doubt that God still has a plan. 

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Masterpiece by Danny Gokey

Heartbreaks a bitter sound
Know it well It’s ringing in my ears
And I can’t understand
Why I’m not fixed by now
Begged and I have pleaded
Take this pain but I’m still bleeding
Heart trusts you for certain
Head says it’s not working
I’m stuck here still hurting
But you tell me

You’re making a masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am is in your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art for all to see you’re making a masterpiece

Guess I’m your canvas
Beautiful black and blue
Painted in mercy’s hue
I don’t see past this
You see me now
Who I’ll be then
There at the end
Standing there as

Your Masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am is in your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art for all to see
You’re making a masterpiece
You’re making a masterpiece

Even though I’m hurting
I’ll let you keep working

You’re making a masterpiece
You’re shaping the soul in me
You’re moving where I can’t see
And all I am is in your hands
You’re taking me all apart
Like it was your plan from the start
To finish your work of art for all to see
You’re making a masterpiece
You’re making a masterpiece
I will be your masterpiece

I Hate Neurodermatitis

99FF5C35-B5D1-4EFD-BFD6-A56CDFD01635I’m back in the tub for the first time in 48 hours. It’s like I can’t let off even a little from taking my new medication. This itching is so intense to keep under control. The only consistent thing about my situation is inconsistency. I’ve really been comfortable most of the day. Now my Neurodermatitis is popping up all over my body at 1am. 

“Neurodermatitis is a skin condition that begins with an itch. The itch can develop anywhere on the surface of the body. The itch can be so intense that a person scratches or rubs the itchy patch frequently. The itch can also come and go. For most people, the area feels itchiest when they are relaxing or sleeping. The itch causes people to scratch or rub the area while sleeping — and it can awaken someone from a sound sleep. Quite often, the itch begins during an especially stressful time in someone’s life. Even when the stress subsides, the itch usually continues. Scratching or rubbing can change the appearance of that itchy patch.”

Research shows that there are several things that trigger Neurodermatitis. At the top of that list is an injury to a nerve. Then, a period of intense stress or emotional trauma. Dry skin, sweat, heat, and poor blood flow can also trigger things further. I have to say I’ve experienced all of the above. Sad thing is this is one more thing that doctors say has no cure. All you can hope to do is manage the symptoms and it’s trigger points. It’s by far not an easy task. I believe this is what Jesus would say about anything like this that man can’t fix. 

“Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29)

Will You Trust God Now?

1298F9B8-37CC-4310-B36B-B0F2E938FA37Prior to September 17th, 2015 I was very blessed. I was not dependent upon any daily medication. I was able to go to work all day. I was able to drive myself around anywhere instead of my wife having to carry me everywhere. I didn’t feel like I was still 15, but I felt way healthier than most my age. Then, all that changed and here I am feeling like I should be in an assisted living facility at age 43.
This new medication has definitely been working. However, it has also left me feeling very medicated. I feel like I’m in a haze every minute. That I’m awake, but I’m just not able to process much very clearly. Don’t get me wrong I’m thrilled to be comfortable, but I was always afraid this was what it would take. Having worked in hospice I’m well aware there is usually no in between when it comes to comfort. Either you’re too uncomfortable and yet aware of everything. Or you’re comfortable full of medication that makes you feel like you’re on another planet always sleepy.
I find myself very concerned about the future. I wonder how long I might be this way. Even scarier will I get much worse over time. These moments really challenge your faith more than ever. Will you still trust God even in these moments? Will you walk in fear or by faith through the dark valley?
I know God has not changed so the answer is YES. Yes, I will trust God even when I can’t see beyond this valley. Yes God is still with me even in the darkest valley. I can’t wait to visit with my counselor in the morning to process these feelings and so much more!
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Such A God Made Day

I’m learning that sometimes you have to experience a really bad day in order to recognize a really good day. Well, based on what I recently experienced I’m having a really good day. My new medication has my itching under control. I’m having to take it every 6 hours and keep all my skin moisturized around the clock. Also, no more long hot baths for me since the water dries my skin out and the heat only stimulates more breakouts. Cool water is calming, but even it I can only stay in for so long.

My stimulator and medications allowed to me to get over 13 hours of sleep during a 19 hour window. I just spent over an hour in the pool that soothed my skin. My mind and body are so much calmer than usual. I have to accept that my nerves will always be an issue. I’ve just got to learn how to live life to the fullest despite my issues. Honestly, that’s really hard to do when you’re stuck in extreme torment for hours and hours.

So now my goal is to do my best to stay proactive in hopefully preventing the extreme. Even with my present fatigue I feel so relieved. I’m just so grateful to God for some answers, relief, rest, and peace. It’s amazing how long it can take to fully discover the root of your symptoms. Every one of mine root back to nerve damage that has wreaked havoc all over. But, today God has calmed the storm and His child. All glory to God for working through doctors, medications, and for certain the prayers of so many. Today is a “GOD” made day for sure.

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

My Only Real Peace

I know I take a risk every time I bare my soul through the good, bad, and ugly. Especially in the lowest moments many may be quick to ask “where is your faith now preacher?” To that I would respond “My faith is not about me having it all together or how much faith I can muster compared to others. My faith is about putting my trust in Jesus. Believing in a never changing God in the midst of my ever changing circumstances.

Yesterday was brutal and all day my strength was gone. Humanly speaking I couldn’t bare anymore and wondered how I could hold on any longer. Even now I’m aching, but I’m also feeling the peace of God. God’s peace can’t be explained or denied. I can’t tell you how many times He has restored the joy of my salvation.

Right now, I just want to praise you Jesus. You just keep taking me through the otherwise unbearable. You just keep giving me strength when my strength has long been gone. You keep giving me peace as I feel your presence in the midst of the storm. Thank you Jesus for sticking with me, working for me, and giving peace to me. Not just sometimes, but time and time again!

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

I Survived The Fiery Furnace

D78759AA-896D-4DAE-8A62-1BA86E3E1FA9I can’t put into words how uncomfortable I’ve been all night and day. It’s like satan had a blow torch and was given permission to torcher me from feet to face. From continuous itching to a body feeling like it’s been kicked repeatedly with a steel toe boot. All I’ve prayed continually was for God’s mercy. It’s been all I could do to even keep my head up after being awake practically all night and day.

Finally, I’m done with my third functional capacity evaluation. For a couple hours straight I was in a full blown torcher chamber. They made me do things that only made me hurt worse. There was no easy exercise for me in my present condition. While this is going on I was being judged by folks smirking as if I’m lying about my condition. I told one of them that until you’re in these shoes for 33 months straight you can’t imagine the insanity.

Daily I’ve always done everything I could to keep the rest of my body in shape. From pool therapy to walking when my body allows. I could have easily sunk into a deep depression and put on 100 extra pounds. Yet, I’m not rewarded for my discipline. People look at me and think he can’t be hurting that bad. If they only knew the fight, pain, and tears shed. I can promise you there is nothing worse to anyone with deep pain than to be around others who have no compassion towards them. Now, I can’t wait to rest as my body calms down with the help of my meds. God, you did it again! You stayed with me through the fiery furnace! Thanks for every prayer uttered on my behalf!

““Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him.” (Daniel 3:28)

I’m Very Concerned

I don’t use these words lightly as I write them. I am very concerned about how my health situation is trending. I’m certain that if nothing drastically changes soon I will have to make some drastic changes myself very soon. My pain and misery have been climbing all night. Of course, it’s never best to make any big decisions under extreme fatigue, pain or stress. Right now all three have me in a choke hold at such a high level.

I’m willing to admit that I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But, I don’t take health matters lightly. Especially after seeing way too many others not take their health warning signs seriously enough. I will never in my right mind do anything that possibly jeopardize my health or could hurt others.
While prayer is always part of any solution so is action. You can’t just say you have faith things will all work out. You’ve got to do all God leads you to do while trusting God with all things past, present and future. Once again, I find myself somewhere I’ve never been before. Therefore, I’m seeking God’s direction and Godly wisdom. I know God will honor my obedience and efforts towards pleasing Him. Now, I just pray I can survive today and make wise choices throughout the day.

Lord Have Mercy On Me

My pain level is presently a 7 out 10. The only reason I wouldn’t call it any higher is because an 8-10 would mean I need to be in the emergency room. I can’t believe that in just 6 hours I’ve got to endure another 3-4 hour long Functional Capacity Evaluation. I’ve not been able to sleep a wink all night. I didn’t fall asleep until after 4am the night before due to my itching. Sadly, my new meds weren’t able to stop my itching tonight either.

Yet, just a few hours from now after zero hours sleep my wife will be driving me to do numerous exercises that are going to hurt me so badly. Right now, I can barely get out of the tub by myself. It’s typically an ordeal just to attempt putting on my own socks and shoes. All I can do is pray, pray, and pray some more. It’s going to take an absolute miracle to not have a neurological breakdown today.

Please pray for me as I try my best just to make it through this day. My pain level is very close to panic level. My entire body is throbbing and I don’t know anything else I can do. My doctor told me yesterday to be careful about taking much Valium with my additional meds. So, I’m trying to save the one I can take for right before or after my appointment. The Lord knows I’m desperate for His grace and calming touch.

“Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.” (Job 30:17)

My Miracle Prayer

B78806F2-810A-4AD8-8F70-6A48E631FFD7It’s 3:30 in the morning with no sleep in sight

I know the pain will end, but it’s still such a fight

Until you lose your health you don’t really know 

What it feels like every second to dread where you go

I’m not asking for self pity or just trying to wallow

I’m just processing my pain that is still hard to swallow 

The days are like nights and the nights are like days

It’s only by God’s grace I’ve made it all of this ways

I know God has a plan and I’ve had moments I smile

But, I’m always afraid I can’t travel one more mile

I’ve waited 1,020 days just hoping to feel better

I’ve cried, I’ve prayed and even written God letters 

Still here I am miserable in ways I cannot explain 

I can see why this kind of hurting can drive anyone insane 

Without the prayers of many, my family and my faith

I would be very fearful of the roads I might take 

Still I know God has a plan for every broken moment 

I’m just trying to stay faithful and not be a disappointment 

So God pick me up again and help me walk through it

Because without your constant grace I know I can’t do it

You’ve never failed me before and I remember that well

Please do such a miracle that even my grand kids will tell

There was once a broken man that doctors said couldn’t heal

Until God came along and His glory was revealed 

Dreading Tomorrow

Free Fall Craig facebookIt’s about 11pm on a Monday night. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more emotionally and physically combined running through my veins. Tomorrow I will endure a very long appointment that to say I’m dreading is an understatement. It’s an appointment that is not fair or necessary. But, we all know life is full of these kind of moments. This one is just catching me at a time that I’m very vulnerable and need every ounce of God’s help to operate with self control.

I will be confronting face to face some things that have been heavy on my heart for awhile. Issues that need to be addressed and truth that needs to be spoken. I’m someone that has compassion and love for anyone that I ever encounter. However, I don’t mine getting right up in the devil’s face when duty calls. I don’t know how things are going to go. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say. I can assure you there will be some very uncomfortable moments for everyone involved.

Tonight, there is no way of knowing whether I will get even one minute of sleep. Especially since I napped a few hours earlier due to sleeping very little last night. I’m in an absolute dog fight and I know it. A battle between good and evil. A battle that is testing every ounce of strength, endurance, and faith within me. A battle that I know I can’t win without God’s help.

My prayers are constant and all I’m hearing God say is just keep holding on and trust me. I truly believe I’m living in one of the most defining seasons of my life. I don’t want to let anyone down, but especially my commander and chief Jesus Christ. So, just pray in agreement with me that God’s will be done and that I be found faithful no matter what life continues to throw my way. I know God is at work more than ever before on me, in me, and despite me. It’s just not a lot of fun at the moment and has me out of breath.

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)

Pressed, Perplexed, Knocked Down

0057C672-E0AF-4607-8AF5-83C49309EBECIt’s been a long day and it’s only halfway over. Got some very disappointing news earlier that continues to put my entire family on hold. Some closure that I thought was soon to be discovered has once again been delayed. I don’t know why every door around me seems to be on lockdown. Only God knows why I’m presently trapped on this island of distress. 

After an earlier doctor visit I did receive a medication that should help my severe case of Neurodermatitis. This comes after battling total body itching all night until 4am this morning. Seriously, it’s like behind every curtain is one more painful surprise. Even still I’m overjoyed by my prescription of Hydroxyzine. It may add some extra drowsiness at first. But, anything that can possibly calm this itching is well worth taking.

I believe its safe to say that my wonderful wife and I are totally battle weary. Yes, we trust God with the present and our entire future. However, in countless ways we feel stuck at the bottom of a well under water. So many things are being hindered by my health issues. So many extra burdens are upon our hearts due to my health. I had know idea that God planned to write this book called“Faith Walking” by taking me step by step through endless pain. So, I’m giving God the pen and letting Him continue to write my life story in a way that brings Him the most glory!

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Here We Go Again

As soon as I thought I would finally go to sleep I started breaking out again all over my body. When it strikes it’s like a wildfire you can only hope to contain. I’ve tried every cream in the book. Also, I’m now taking a daily allergy medication. Even still I was forced into the tub to hopefully settle this Neurodermatitis down again. Sadly, I see no soon coming end to this problem.

When the red rash, dots, and stripes appear the only place they don’t appear on is my neck and face. It’s all you can do to not dig in on every itching spot. I’m learning more discipline, but this isn’t the kind of itching you can let sit still with very long. It’s crazy how the same water that can further the problem can easiest settle the problem.

I hate this full on body attack. Yet, I know many who have much worse health issues than me. Among a list long of other to do things I’ve got set up an appointment with a dermatologist and a neurologist. I know of one medication that has helped a friend with the same issue. But, I’ve got to see if I can get the medication and that it doesn’t interfere with of my other non-negotiable meds.

Until then here I am just waiting on this storm to pass. My eyes are barely open as I continue to itch. Just when I think I’m on top of the itching the itching jumps on top of me. All you can do is adjust, choose to rejoice, and hope for better moments ahead. I’m certain I would’ve been in the nuthouse long ago if not for God’s strength and comfort through this process.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Long Week, Still Hopeful

Lately, I’ve been doing one thing right on a consistent basis. I’ve made sure that everyday the past week I got up, got dressed and walked out of the house at some point. Why? I’ve discovered its critical to my mental, emotional and physical health. Pondering every second how bad you feel only feeds dark thoughts. It’s true that an idol mind is a devil’s workshop. Sit and ponder long enough how bad things are and see if the depression buzzards don’t surround you.

I’ve got a very long week ahead. First, I’m seeking to put together the best plan possible to jump start my daily recovery. Right now I’m not moving forward or backwards. My recovery momentum was disturbed many months ago. I’ve got to do whatever I can to jumpstart my recovery to a point of daily consistency. I’m doing this very prayerfully and strategically. But, I plan to do whatever it takes to get and hopefully feel better.

This week I’ve got several big appointments concerning my health. The one I’m most dreading is this Tuesday when I’ve got to endure my 3rd Functional Capacity Exam in less than 2 months. This torcher to my body can last 3-4 hours long. I’m praying I don’t have another nervous system breakdown during the process.

The appointment I most look forward to is seeing my professional counselor on Thursday. It’s been long overdue since my last visit. It does me so much good to process my griefs and many struggles associated with my health. Like the fact that I can feel my legs are getting weaker and weaker. I don’t need another doctor to remind me I’ve got permanent nerve damage in my entire lower body. I feel I am growing to a place of greater acceptance, but it’s not good for my recovery efforts that I grow in my contentment. I’ve got to keep pushing forward and somehow not let yesterday’s disappointments shatter tomorrow’s hopes.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 3:13-14)

Come Closer Son

3FD57B10-4BC4-4E0E-8B7F-4768D1FF9A7EFor reasons I don’t understand God won’t allow me to go to bed without seeking to be fully honest. I’m certain there is a bit of pride involved on my part of things. You see, I would love for each of you to believe that I’ve got it all together. I would love to paint for you some perfect life. To go ahead and write my own happy ending to a very long struggling story.
 
The truth is the flames just seem to be increasing by the minute. Red lines, patches, circles, stripes and every other variation of breakout imaginable is popping up all over my body. I can’t stop it all I can keep trying to do is contain it. My hands feel very swollen and my entire body is tingling. This extra layer of torment is really pushing me over the edge. I hate to keep saying it, but my favorite time by far is when I’m sleeping.
 
One thing for sure God has pointed out to me is how I must draw closer to Him. I can just let the flames consume me. I can’t stay focused more on the pain that I do praying through the pain. I’m trying as hard as I can to get where I’m talking about. I bought a new journal earlier in hopes that I will get back to daily conversation with God. Not just a few desperate prayers, but consistent appointments with the only One that can get me through these trying times. It’s how Jesus made it through each day and it’s the only way I’m going to make it through this dark valley of uncertainty.
 
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

The Longest Piggy Back Ride Ever

F2BF9BD2-AF9B-458F-80C7-299C7842D1ADI’m pretty sure my wife is absolutely exhausted from taking care of me all the time and driving me to most destinations. I’m exhausted just from going place to place. We’re in a desert season where every step feels like a long country mile. Presently there are no decisions that feel easy. There are no mountains that don’t appear like the tallest ever. 

For quite awhile I was carried by sheer adrenaline and drive to move forward. I’ve always been one to believe that I could make it through anything. That was until I exceeded my tolerance capacity. Certain levels of adversity just introduce you to your maximum limits more than others. If that’s the case I’ve been introduced to way more than I can handle long ago.

Daily for the longest time I’ve felt like I’m operating off of fumes. My own tank of gas has been reached empty. The only way I’ve made it has been pure grace and strength from above. There is no other explanation for me making it this far. My body feels like it has fallen apart in every way possible. Yet, God keeps carrying me forward on His shoulders. This is by far the longest piggy back ride I’ve ever been on. 

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

“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 Didn’t See This Coming

59ED5416-7973-4C64-BE4C-908F9B7B9F78I woke up with my body aching all over even more than usual. I slept so hard due to medication I took late last night that I woke up three hours past my 6:30 medicine alarm. Sadly, none of these medications even help my Neurodermatitis that’s driven by my severe nerve pain. Now, I’ve got an itching rash that pops up all over my body. My hands and feet just feel raw and swollen. This is not the direction I expected things to keep trending.

I admit that if my faith was not fixed on Christ I’m not sure where I would be at this point. If I didn’t realize that pain is a part of this broken life I would probably feel singled out and tormented by God. If I didn’t know this pain will end one day I’m not sure I could look forward to the future with hope. If I didn’t firmly believe God is using my pain for His glory I would struggle greatly to see it’s purpose. 

Regardless, I hate how I feel most of the time throughout everyday. I don’t wish this on any other person. I hate continuously hurting and never knowing how much worse things are going to get. It’s very painful, disappointing and frightening all at the same time. For sure, apart from my faith and family I would be in a very dark place. Yet, while I saw none of this coming at my young age I have to trust in God’s perfect plans. Only He can see the bigger picture and how my brokenness plays into His greater will. So, until I draw my last breath in this life my soul is resting in His higher ways!

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I Feel Like Such A Pain

DFC5C8C2-1828-41B1-9026-1F481F294BD0If I told you how much my health has affected my family alone it would literally take days to explain. The past nearly three years has been a nightmare. From sun up to sun down my pain has disrupted my entire household. Most nights in between have been so long and uncomfortable. I painfully see daily how my pain has grieved those most dear to my heart called family.

My wife has relentlessly rearranged her life around my condition. She’s like a nurse that is never off duty. She puts up with my extreme mood swings and my often uncontrollable pain. She does most of life as a single parent. It’s been obvious for nearly a year that she has total caregiver fatigue. I fight to get her to understand my struggles, but she needs someone to understand her struggles.

Then, there are my four boys who I would give the world to if I could. They can’t comprehend at their ages what’s really going on with their daddy. They see me in the bed often, fighting to get around, and often limited in anything I can do. When we do get out together my pain usually ruins the outing. My unpredictable pain makes me unpredictable company. Tears fill me on the inside as it’s just not possible right now for me to be the dad or husband I so desperately long to be. 

Sadly, as I told my wife earlier there is nothing more that I can do. Four different doctors have confirmed that the nerve damage throughout my lower body is permanent. They can try and calm the symptoms, but they can’t cure the root of the pain. It’s like being at a funeral where you must bury life as you once knew it. It’s taken all this time for me to recognize the depth of my grief and pain. And it grieves me way more to actually feel like a continuous source of pain to my family. 

I wish to God I could wave a major wand and make myself better. Instead, I’ve presently got to find a new approach to life based on my condition. I’ve got to with God’s help keep striving to do my best. Worrying changes nothing concerning my past, present, or future. I have to trust that God can work beyond my pain and bring order to the chaos within and around me. Oh God may your grace and favor be upon me and my family. 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

God Will Restore Things

 

8DF3B91B-F48C-4994-A756-68DD49D24289Last night was the worst my itching has been so far. Eventually all my meds and Benadryl drifted me off to sleep. I’ve only been out of the bed for a little over 3 hours. However, I’ve learned that the shorter my day the better the day for my present condition. Nearly 10 hours of sleep certainly didn’t hurt matters.

I’m thankful for the really bad days because they make you oh so thankful for the good days. I’ve enjoyed some pool therapy for almost two hours. In the water I actually feel relief and normal. It’s in these moments I realize how blessed more moments of relief would totally change my life. They do good for my body and my mind.

I’m praying harder than ever for answers, endurance, and my miracle. I truly believe God is going to restore all that the devil has taken from me. This story is not done and my God is not sleeping. He is holding me close and carrying me every time my body is pure exhausted. I’m daily praying bold, audacious prayers for healing in the Mighty name of Jesus Christ. These days will pass and I will be healed in God’s perfect timing.

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 33:11)

The Intensity Continues

75D2A9B3-0168-4DBF-AA35-32B84CF2974BTonight has been my worst nerve pain driving itching night so far. It’s like playing that game at Chucky Cheese where you’re trying to hit random pop up figures with a hammer. The itching is everywhere at once. I’m trying everything I can to stop or even soothe my skin. My feet, hands, legs, arms, and anywhere in between feels on fire. 

I’ve done much of what has been recommended by experts to fight my Neurodermatitis. I’ve tried to not just scratch the areas, hot baths, topical creams, Benadryl, and even covering up the most intense areas. I’ve literally covered my feet in diaper rash just hoping to freeze things overnight. 

You’ve heard the term new levels,new devils. It’s clear that one major stimulus of this is my nerves and stress. It’s hard to totally shut down either of those that things just dealing with the itching alone.  But, it’s so much more than that attacking my body all at once. Research shows I may need a shot or prescription strength to even keep tips stuff in check. It’s taken a monster leap in intensity in just the past few weeks. All this while I’m still trying to find the perfect setting for my spinal cord stimulator. It’s a full time job just having to do anything that revolves around my nerves, skin, back and legs. The good news for now is my meds have finally colllided together to possibly help me sleep tonight! I need a medical degree for sure to deal with all this chaos. 

“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 Bold Audacious Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

This prayer is long overdue and beyond necessary. I praise you for all that You have done for me and despite me up to this point. I acknowledge the fact that You’ve not just created me, but You’ve sustained me all these years. Your faithfulness is undeniable and encouraging.

Thank You for this refining time even if most minutes are totally uncomfortable. I see so much that You are doing and I know I can’t see but a glimpse of all Your masterpiece. I don’t doubt for a moment that You don’t have a masterful plan for everything I’m going through.

Please forgive me for the moments that I doubt. The moments that I cry out for relief, but fail to praise You in the storm. You’ve already blessed me enough the first half of my life to deserve my full praise the rest of my life. I’m learning, listening, and looking for Your will every step of the way. No matter what have Your way and accomplish Your will. Even if that means this pain must continue to propel Your will.

In closing I come boldly to your throne with my request. Help me rise above the pain and discomfort. Help me to be content no matter what does or does not happen to me. Shine on me, in me, and through me. May others not hear just a complainer but a warrior who has learned to trust You fully no matter the good or bad. If it be Your will heal me in a way only You can get all the credit. Calm the aching, itching, and anxiousness within me. I’m expecting my miracle and believing that it’s already in motion! In the Mighty name of Jesus I pray boldly and believing.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

I’m Giving Up On Myself

I’ve only completed 4 days of my recently started 7 day challenge to not focus on my pain. God knows I’m trying so hard to pass this test. But, when your legs hurt so bad and your body feels like it’s been hit by a truck it’s so tough. Just went a mile up town to pick up a few things from Dollar General. Of course, I had to take my 14 year old so he could load and unload everything for his Grandpa healthy dad. Honestly, at my age I hate feeling like somebody that should already be getting a room at a local nursing home.

I just don’t like the way things are trending. I don’t see the progress or the potential of progress I’m desperately wanting. As a man it just makes you feel helpless. I should at least be able to pick up a full gallon of milk for my wife and not have to worry about it’s consequences. However, I’m afraid my doctor’s restrictions of me not lifting anything over ten pounds isn’t so far fetched after all.

My physical mind just can’t comprehend how things can be changed by man. In fact, I know that man has maxed out their potential. So, I have no other choice than to fully rely on God for my miracle. Often we really have to fully reach the end of what we can do before we totally understand our absolute dependence on what only God can do. It’s safe to say I’m at that point where I’ve given up on my own ability. I know I can’t, but I’m still believing that God can change my condition. God keep feeding my faith to believe you for the otherwise impossible! I know that I can’t, but I fully believe that you can do anything.

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

Why Am I So Surprised?

 

F28500E1-01E5-445C-B2A6-1A1C492A3859Today, I road out with my wife to deal with some family matters. I didn’t want her to go alone and I really wanted to be with her. She goes so many places without me due to my health. So, I thought I would tag along since she would be driving. Somehow, I sometimes forget the reality of my pain until that reality forces itself in my face.

Bottom line is my body can barely endure even a one hour ride anymore. My legs are gone before I even leave my backyard. Even with my cane its getting very difficult to walk around for any significant amount of time. It’s as if someone has gone into my legs and stripped out it’s power source. I literally feel like I’m dragging my legs everywhere I go. I’m certain my wife can tell everything I attempt is a dog fight. 

Maybe you think you’re over something and your cold reality keeps slapping you in the face. All it takes is something small to reveal your true struggle. Your grief or pain can be triggered when you least expect it. Next thing you know you feel so far from where you would like to be. Nonetheless, none of our struggles take God by surprise. So, we have to trust that if He allows it He must have a clear plan to use it. 

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

3 Things Every Leader Must Know

Female Mallard Duck (anas Platyrhynchos) And DucklingsAnyone who ever thinks leadership is easy has simply never been a true leader. Whether at home or on the job you’re gonna have to make tough decisions. Not every decision you make will be popular, but you’ve got to do what’s best and trust God with the rest. If you know something needs to be said, say it. If you know something needs to be done, do it.

First of all, make sure you’re leading by example. When your actions are out of line own up to it. Admit your own imperfections and strive to demonstrate integrity in all you do. Then, those you’re trying to lead will respect your honesty and integrity. No leader is without weakness or mistakes. However, we must always strive to practice what we preach.

Secondly, deal with things early and often. Anytime you let issues grow they only become bigger and bigger. God put it on my heart a few years ago that I must deal with the small fires before they become wildfires. For example, if you ignore unacceptable behavior now from your children you will deal with utter chaos later. There is no such thing as a part time leader. You must always keep your head and heart in the game.

Last, but certainly not least you must stay humble before God and others. No one wants to listen to a know it all. Our attitude does determine our altitude. We must ask God to lead us so that we can lead others. Pride will always go before the fall. When we think we’ve got it all figured out we stop learning and praying earnestly for God’s help. Don’t ever forget where your help, strength, and wisdom come from. Only things God made will last.

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

Only God Calms The Insanity

EA337A37-82A0-41F1-8247-E6823DB8BEC6This neurodermatitis is driving me crazy. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed it wakes me up sometime before 6am with intense itching. I just have to keep the itch relief cream near me at all times. When you have something the doctor says is nerve driven and not curable it’s all you can do. Not to mention it’s able to be stimulated with or without water, by heat, sweat, or just because your skin is dry. 

And, I’m not talking about just one place. Anywhere from my chest, hands, legs, or feet is up for grabs. I have been staying a lot more on top of it recently. Even still there is at least two to three times daily you want to scratch your skin off. Earlier I was literally quoting scripture in my mind as I tried my best to refrain from scratching myself anymore than absolutely necessary. Because the more you scratch the more you’re going to itch. In fact, you’ve just woken up the bear and created more wounds. 

I still plan to go to a dermatologist, but I’m just glad I’ve got anything to comfort my skin. I make sure my skin doesn’t get too dry all throughout the day. However, even the best of effort has proven I need God’s help every step of the way. Here is the scripture I was quoting earlier in my mind. It helps comfort me with many things. It reminds me that with God’s spirit living within I’m not powerless and never hopeless.

“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)

Still Holding My Hand

holding-my-hand

I’ve officially reached the 34th month of my health battle. The entire time I’ve felt like I was just one step away from losing it all. I’m not talking about just losing a job, a house, or even my family. I’m talking about collapsing from within as my body has been so close to completely falling apart so many days. My very sanity has been at stake many a day and I’m still not pass that cloud of possibility. But, oh how much God has shown me during this 2 year and 10 month long battle.

I remember very early in my struggle with this nerve pain I simply didn’t know what was actually wrong with me. It was maybe two weeks after my slip and fall accident that I rushed back to a local Doctor’s Care facility. It was around 7 p.m. in the evening and I just had to see somebody right away. At this point, all I had done before was a general x-ray that was not able to show the severity of my nerve issues. I had no idea that when I fell two week’s prior I had torn my L5 S1 disc as much as you can without causing me to be paralyzed.

The lady at the desk asked “So what is your reason for seeing the doctor today?” I said, “tell them I think I’m going crazy.” And, honestly I meant every word that I was speaking at that time. I was completely out of my mind due to my nervous system crashing within me. The next many months were a total blur as I felt like I was experiencing a living Hell day and night. I finally got some medication that at least took some edge off things and helped me get some sleep. Honestly, I really couldn’t see myself wanting to live long under such conditions.

A couple surgeries, a spinal cord stimulator, more medicine and many months later I really see life so differently. I actually know that no matter what life brings my way God is still God. I know that even when I feel like I’m falling apart God is still holding me together. I know that what might just sound like total torment is when God is often doing His greatest work. He uses the fiery furnace of pain to draw us closer than ever to Him. To deepen our faith and prepare us for greater ministry to others. I know that no matter what God literally has my back even when my back lets me down daily.

So, while I may still feel so broken I feel so much stronger in my faith. I’m actually thankful for every day that God has used to carry out His purposes that I might not always understand. I’m thankful that even when I feel like I can’t hold on any longer He is always holding on to me. I feel His presence. I’ve found His peace. I know He has me forevermore in the palm of His hand.

“For I the Lord your God keep hold of your right hand; [I am the Lord], Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)(AMP)

Working Not Wallowing

B83058A9-93D3-4683-A227-B751AF2A9587I started a 7 day challenge 3 days ago. A challenge to attempt not to wallow in my pain as I continue to work through it. Yes, it’s still staring me in my face day and night. Yes, it’s still very difficult to get around. Yes, I feel miserable often and wish it would all just go away.
However, I truly believe it’s just not God’s timing yet. God is still humbling, growing, and refining me through this challenging season. I’m learning how to lean on Him completely instead of myself. I’m learning to trust Him instead of my circumstances. My faith is being stretched like never before as I’m choosing to free fall into the arms of Jesus.
I’m at that point that if it’s all going to work out it will be because God alone performed a miracle. The enemy is still attacking me from every angle possible. I’m being tested physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It’s all driving me further to my knees. All my man made props have been knocked down. It’s obvious that I’m completely dependent upon God’s grace and goodness to get through this valley. Even still I’m fully trusting God to show up and show out in my life. To do a Mighty work for our good and His glory.
“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)

Yes You Can My Child

FFBB03FD-2626-4AA1-A39D-A963C1B1FBD9.jpegWell, my Neurodermatitis is daily getting worse. The rashes and itching are popping up constantly throughout the day driven by my nerve pain. It’s definitely getting on my nerves and leaving me very uncomfortable. But, I’m  learning something the devil doesn’t like. I’m learning to be proactively prepared for the pop ups. I know it’s just another switch he is hoping will make me feel so tormented that I ultimately flip out. 

With God’s help I’ve chosen a different approach. I will not let it get the best of me. I will keep get the appropriate topical lotions nearby to immediately ease the itch. I will look for ways to prevent what I can. I will keep praying to a God who I know hears and answers prayer. I will not let it just send me tumbling into further distress.

God has given me the will power to fight through this madness and itching all over. He has given me the discipline to do whatever necessary to keep pressing forward. He has given me the faith to see beyond my fears of wondering what might happen next. He has given me the ability to calm down and not just go crazy every time I feel crazy. I’m totally relying on the Holy Spirit to keep stabilizing my mind, heart, response to whatever life throws my way. 

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

My 7 Day Challenge

D68B6296-5525-4A36-9CFE-87D1C16EB5BFHad a very dear lady from church ask me to do something that I’m more than willing to try. She said, “I want you try and go 7 days straight without focusing on your pain.” She further explained that she wasn’t saying that I’m not in constant discomfort. But, she wanted me to claim God’s healing by only speaking words that are healing. We talked about the difference in me sharing through my pain verses the times that I’m just fixated on my pain.

This lady is full of faith and so am I when it comes to believing God for a miracle. I do believe scripture teaches us to operate with great faith. In fact, many times when Jesus healed someone he said “your faith has healed you.” I believe if we’re honest most of us struggle to have full faith that God can and will do certain things. So, I’m going to ask God to give my faith wings and take me where I can’t take myself.

Therefore, for the next 7 days I’m going to be very careful with my words. I’m going to speak, write, and pray for God’s healing touch upon my body. With God’s help I’m not going to wallow in my pain, but I will continue to work through it. Of course, I can’t deny my present health condition. However, I can also believe God for His healing touch upon my mind, body, and soul. I will do my best to only write and speak words of life.

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

“The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health.” (Psalms 41:3)

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good thing, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalms103:1-5)

Is Death An Accident or Appointment?

DA5B2246-6435-4839-8124-197E6A39CC8CI’ve preached a lot of funerals in my 25 years of ministry. From the pre-mature baby, toddler, teenager, college student, those 0 to 99, and  many in between. Many were called accidents and gone way too soon. For certain most of their loved ones were never ready to say goodbye. Yes, we all know death is a reality we each will face. However, it still seems to sneak up on us out of nowhere. I can’t tell you how many times after a death I’ve heard someone say “I just can’t believe they are really gone.”

Now, I could talk for hours about the grief process. But, I want to touch briefly on our perception of death. Are some deaths accidents and other’s appointments? It’s easy for us to call death an appointment if someone really old passes away of natural causes. Yet, death becomes much harder to embrace when the person is younger, suddenly dies, or seems to be the victim of some very unfortunate event. So, is death an appointment or accident? Oddly, I believe it can be both.

I know God gives us all free choice. Sadly, many have abused their freedom to choose. For example, God has never endorsed abortion or other forms of murder. God never told anyone to shoot random people with a machine gun. God never approved drunk driving or any form of careless living. God never ordered anyone to commit suicide. Yet, there are so many deaths that leave loved ones shaking their head in disbelief. I believe there are so many deaths that we just can’t believe were God’s will. 

I can assure you that if something happened to one of my children I would initially go in shock. If God took my wife regardless of how things happened I would be devastated. In fact, if I was on my own death bed I would feel like the doctors must be confused. Why? Because I don’t feel like it’s my time and I’ve still got much kingdom work to do. It’s just natural that any death that happens without our permission is not accepted well. 

Scripture is clear that we’ve all got an appointed time of earthly departure. We might not feel ready at that time, but the Bible says there is a time to be born and a time to die. That whether we feel it’s enough or not God has numbered all our days. I believe God knows exactly how long each of us will live on this earth. Therefore, our birth nor our death takes Him by surprise. 

Just because someone didn’t plan to get pregnant we don’t call those children accidents. Why? Because we know that God is the ultimate giver of life. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder for us to feel this way about death that seems so unfair, pre-mature, or just plain wrong. Now, I do share many of your feelings towards death. I also believe the Bible is clear that death never takes God by surprise. God always has the final word when it comes to our earthly departure. 

So, maybe you’ve loss someone that you never dreamed would be gone so soon. Maybe the cause or timing of their death just seems so unacceptable. God may agree with you completely, but it still doesn’t mean it wasn’t their time. I believe it’s in the midst of our most complicated grief that we can’t just look at everything as an accident, but sometimes a divine appointment. Only then can we be free to move forward. Knowing that if God knew what would happen with them then He knows what is planned for us now. I’m not saying it all makes sense, but really from our viewpoint death rarely does. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” 

(Hebrews 9:27)

Dealing With A Rare Crisis

3FD57B10-4BC4-4E0E-8B7F-4768D1FF9A7EI’m discovering it’s quite something to be dealing with any rare crisis. For me it’s just been a series of rare experiences related to my rare level of nerve pain issues. At first you just want answers from anyone who might know anything. Then after you get just a general idea of what might be going on with you it takes quite awhile to digest. However, your daily struggles and symptoms confirm that you do indeed battle a rare crisis. 

After doctors, google, and others confirm there is no quick fix you begin to panic. You think to yourself there has to be an answer to my struggles. Especially with all the technology and advancements in medicine. The more you research it’s confirmed that no one really knows how to conquer, cure or get over what you’re battling. It truly takes all the air out of your human sails of hope.

Everyday you’re discovering something new about this problem man cannot cure. Your life is affected in so many ways you quit counting. Ultimately you realize there is only one way to walk through this valley of unpredictable pain and life disruption. You’ve got to put on the full armor of God and walk by total faith. This simply means seeking to do all you can while trusting God with everything you can’t. You’ve got to put your little hand in God’s great big hand. It’s the only way to find peace, purpose, and hope beyond your rare circumstances. Because after all just because no one can figure it out doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a plan for working it all out. 

“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”

(Proverbs 3:5-6)(AMP)

How Long, O Lord?

99FF5C35-B5D1-4EFD-BFD6-A56CDFD01635Even with more than enough knockout nightly meds I’ve only been getting a little over 5 hours sleep the last five nights. This is at least 3 1/2  hours less than I was averaging before. I have no idea what the x-factor is that’s making the difference. I know it’s driving my wife crazy as she can here and feel my constant tossing and turning in the bed. That’s just one more way that my struggle is her struggle. 

My Neurodermititis (my nerve created rash) is still causing breakouts and itching all over. Even right now it’s driving me crazy. Doesn’t sound like there is any cure for it, but hopefully something can help it be relieved. That’s been putting me in the bath later at night to bring me some relief. It’s clearly stimulated by the intensity of my nerve pain among other things. I hate that I can’t even sit straight up or stand for more than 30 minutes at a time. That’s a difficult balancing act to maintain.

Add to this that the pain near my tailbone which is the tip of that nerve has flared back up. I really thought my previous shot knocked it out. But, it appears that was my stimulator helping. Right now I’m tossed between two different stimulator settings. I have one setting that runs 30 seconds on and is off 1 1/2 minutes. This stimulator setting helps the most, but ends up over stimulating leaving me nauseous and vibrating. I have another stimulator setting that only helps half as much, but doesn’t over stimulate me. It runs 30 seconds on and is off 5 minutes. 

No matter which setting I use my legs don’t hurt terribly, but my legs are extremely weak. I tell my wife that I often feel like I’m just dragging my legs. I’m praying my morning meds kick in soon and allow me to rest. My days seem so much shorter and easier when I can get more rest. Hoping this coming week my stimulator rep can create me a setting of pulses in between what I have to use right now. 

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

(Psalm 13:1-6)

Still A Thorn In My Side

E9A511D1-9545-433B-A107-1E509162CC9COf all the things that could bother me I’ve tossed and turned all night due to the one thing that should not be bothering me. Yes, once again it’s that big, bulky metal battery implanted over 4 months ago in the ride side of my lower back. It still really hurts bad if ever pressed against or irritated by movement. Picture an old fashioned big silver metal lighter that smokers used to use. Or picture a big cell phone battery with triple the thickness just pressing against your bones and constantly bulging out your skin. All of this from a stimulator battery that serves absolutely no purpose.

For those who have followed my story you recall that early July 2017 I had my spinal cord stimulator implanted. My spine really hurt for a few months but the small battery implanted at that time did not. However, that battery was only 1/4 the size of my present battery. If you recall, the former battery had to be replaced because it proved to not be MRI friendly after being clearly told it would be. So, in February 2018 they cut the same fresh incision back open and replaced that very small battery I never felt before with it’s big brother Godzilla. This new battery was guaranteed to be MRI friendly.

Of course, that would prove to be total hogwash as well. Even the best of MRI machines couldn’t handle it or all the other metal in my back in order to perform a quality MRI. So, I’ve now got this huge thorn in my flesh literally for no good earthly reason. I could care less about not being able to get regular MRI’s. I mainly hate the fact that I’m constantly dealing with this totally unnecessary discomfort from a battery that serves zero purpose.

The center of my lower back should hurt because that is the root spot of my major injury and surgery. My legs should hurt as they are both fried inside due to permanent nerve damage . But, this thorn in my side must be removed as it continuously creates useless physical pain. The larger battery does absolutely nothing that the smaller couldn’t already do except it is easily irritated all the time. My attempts to walk or ever sit back or limited due to it constantly grinding against outer skin and inner bone.

Throughout this 33 month journey absolutely nothing has gone smoothly. After my L5 S1 disc was severely torn they waited 8 months too long to do an obviously needed fusion surgery. Their delay allowed this very progressed annular tear to leak out constantly a gel-like fluid. The constant spewing of the fluid into my lower body created the permanent nerve damage. Finally, after clear evidence from a couple MRI’s I got the spinal fusion surgery I needed.

When I got that surgery they were supposed to just have to cut through the front of my stomach so that I could heal the quickest possible from my major back surgery. However, once my surgeon got in there he determined that the fusion hardware had to be much more invasively stabilized. So, he also cut two more big incisions in my back and inserted bolts on the right and left side of the new titanium disc. One doctor said this doubled my recovery time for a surgery that already takes at least 6-12 months to possibly get over.

With God’s help I defeated all odds with my rapid recovery from a brutal surgery. At one point I was pushing a walker around up to two miles a day. At three months post surgery I’m walking a could miles daily with no walker. My surgeon tells me I’m going to be his poster child for success. Then, I get put into physical therapy way too early. I felt a lot of extra pain during therapy, but my therapist at that time said you gotta press through the pain. By the way, she was dead wrong. As I’ve learned from future therapist who tell you not to do anything that is causes much greater pain.

After two weeks of pre-mature and careless therapy I loss every ounce of the recovery momentum I had before. For the next 8 months I never walked daily like I was able to do prior to that therapy. I know with all my heart had I just kept walking and praying I would have never seen my present stimulator implant. Due to all the shenanigans above I was surgically cut on three different times in just a 21 month period. And if things continue with this battery I will have to be cut open again soon to remove this totally unnecessary thorn in my flesh!

At this point, all I can do is smile and shake my head. Everything that has been attempted by man has ended at a dead end road. In fact, each procedure has not only not brought a cure, but increased my pain. I’m presently on four times the amount of nerve pain meds now than before any of my surgeries. You reach a point where you must say God I put this all in your hands. There is no way all this just happened. It’s all been divinely orchestrated or divinely allowed. Therefore, only God knows the purpose of this journey. I’m certain in my heart that it all serves a greater purpose in the here, now and later. If I didn’t believe it I would be one bitter and totally pessimistic fool.

“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)

Thank God For New Mornings

8A0DECB5-4123-4218-A30A-AA82EBAD733ELast night was one of my roughest nights. At that time I was just experiencing such pain, distress and anguish. All I could do was cry out to my God for help and comfort. Finally, the medication eased my discomfort and put me to sleep. I woke up this morning five hours later to take my morning medication.

Now, physically I still don’t feel great but my mind and heart are more settled. There’s no doubt that satan loves to pound most when we’re most vulnerable. I’m just thrilled to say that my God has gotten me through another dark night. That I can once again breath in and out with a feeling of hope. I still hate how my body feels, but I know things can always be worse.

Thanks from the depths of my heart for anyone who interceded with prayer on my behalf. The prayers were answered and I believe are still at work. I’m so thankful for God’s relief and mercies each morning. Many didn’t even wake up this morning, but by the grace of God I did. Now, I’m gonna try and sleep some more as I still have more giants to face later today.

“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)

Chapter 12: A Prophetic Word

01785790-550E-47E9-9A1E-DB9A922AF3FFWhat I’m about to share I believe to be prophetic. One day you will read this in a book God plans for me to write. Except then it won’t be prophetic anymore, but my new reality. Right now God is writing this book through me daily. It was around 24 months ago God spoke to me about this book. I was 30 days into recovery from my first brutal surgery. At that time I was still pushing a walker around 2 miles each day.

That day I was out walking and God spoke clearly to my heart. He said, “Craig your first book is not going to be called “By The Bedside” but it’s going to be called “Faith Walking.” At that time I sincerely thought I had already gone through the toughest part of this journey. I thought I was near chapter 12 when in reality I was barely done with Chapter 1.

I do believe I’m now in the toughest stretch. The pain is more intense and I’m so battle weary. However, I believe Chapter 12 will have a happy ending. That God will restore to me and my family all the devil has taken. But, I’ve got to make to that finish line. The only way I can do that is to return back to the basics. 

I’ve got to take things one day at a time. I’ve got to keep walking forward believing God for my total healing and restoration. I believe if I can hold on by faith then the later part of my life will be a sheer testament of what an awesome God we do serve. 

“The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. 

(Job 42:12)

My Desperate Prayer

Praying man silhoutteDear Heavenly Father,
Only you know how much I’m painfully bleeding inside. I’m only a shell of myself and can do nothing about it. I don’t believe anything happens apart from either Your divine allowance or orchestration. Please give me the faith I need to keep trusting You through this valley and beyond it. You’ve carried me so far and I need You to carry me further.

In the midst of my pain help me be found faithful. Help me to practice what I preach to others. Help me to see what it is You want me to learn through all of this. Grab me by the hand and don’t let me sink into any further depression. I’m counting on You and You alone to deliver me out of this quicksand.

I’ve seen You perform many miracles. I need You to part the Red Sea for me and my family. I give You every ounce of my anxiety and fear. Hold me together Lord Jesus and give others hope through my life. Stay close to me so I can have peace. Remind me of all Your promises. I’m trying so hard but this storm is way too big for me. I need Your resurrection power pumping through my every vein. Thank you Jesus in advance for what I know You will do in the midst of my distress. In the Mighty name of Jesus I pray!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
(Ephesians 3:20)

Real & Raw Take 1,000,000

88F8ABEB-592F-41E0-8F4E-CF4AE60B809EMy skin is crawling so bad and my heart is hurting so much. I feel like a prisoner in this broken body. Yet, I more than realize there is no quick fix. In fact, obviously there is nothing really man can do for me except listen and pray. I just never saw these days coming so early in my life. My grief of this reality just keeps coming in stages.

Pain makes it so hard to focus on anything else. Even praying is much more difficult as you struggle to even speak with words. Your prayers become groans of desperation as you just want relief. You feel so unstable minded as after awhile you just can’t process things anymore. Comfort, peace, and compassion become the greatest gifts on your wish list.

I just took a Valium that hopefully helps sooner than later. However, I know it’s comfort will be very short lived. Oh how I need the continued prayers of many. I’m bound to collapse apart from God’s grace and mercy. I feel like I’m on an IV drip that needs to be refilled. I feel on a deserted island where I’m left to cry alone. Oh God, I wish this cup could be taken from me. Yet, not my will but your will be done!

“Jesus told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
(Matthew 26:38-39)

My Heartache, God’s Mission

E537320A-6B3A-4583-92F5-764DDCD4DCD5Seems like by the day I discover something new that I’m dealing with on a daily basis. Earlier I went to the doctor to figure out what exactly I could do to treat this most likely viral crud that’s been making me feel awful by the day. I left away with some antibiotic and something to break down the congestion in my head. I also got my doctor to look at the pictures I’ve taken of my daily skin breakouts. I feel I’ve finally got some clarity on that matter. In fact, my skin is broken out and itching all over as I write this article.

Doctor says he is almost certain that I’ve got neurodermatitis. Researchers have discovered that a trigger can increase the risk of developing neurodermatitis. Things that can trigger neurodermatitis include: Injury to a nerve. Period of intense stress or emotional trauma. Tight clothing, especially clothing made of wool or a synthetic fabric like rayon or polyester. Dry skin, allergens, sweat, heat, and poor blood flow can also be a trigger. The fact that I’ve experienced all of these being triggers makes this pretty clear. Also the fact that it’s so short lived on my skin eliminates meds that I’ve always taken or just some specific allergy. It’s activated by my nerves and further stimulated by things such as heat, sweat, dry skin, and even water.

As I walked into CVS to pick up my medications my eyes were further opened. I can’t tell you how weak my legs have felt recently. I’m now having to use my cane all the time to get around. I had to sit down as I waited on my prescriptions. As I sat there in misery I realized I was now that guy. That guy that is disabled, handicap, and struggles every moment from point A to point B. It’s so humbling, challenging, and frightening as you wonder what the future might hold.

You feel like people are looking straight through you and that only other fellow sufferers really understand. I try my best to explain things to my wife who observes me daily and even she can’t seem to realize the level of my constant pain. All I keep thinking about is how I can’t wait to start my chronic illness support group in September. I need the encouragement from my new tribe and they need mine. Because everyday it seems your body fails you and no one seems to understand you. Maybe this is the only way God could prepare me to be a missionary to others who are suffering daily as well. 

“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)

Praying Big & Expecting Big Results

21263D75-1676-4924-ADFA-BAE1894C07B6I’ve  never had more big decisions staring me in the face all at once. Everything in my life is in the building or rebuilding stage. In most respects, I’ve been living by extreme faith for the past 18 years. I can truly say I’ve always allowed God to lead me and my family to whatever and wherever His spirit leads. However, with a family of six and my uncertain health issues nothing is getting easier. Yet, the process and approach to life must remain the same.

I will stay on my knees every step of the way. I will ask God to lead my heart to nothing less than His good, pleasing and perfect will. I will wait on God’s green lights. I will yield when He says yield. I will go when He says go. I will stop when He says stop. And, I will ask God to bring everything into order in accordance with His will and timing.

One thing I know for sure during this challenging time in our lives. God has never failed me before and has always blessed our obedience. I know a great future lies ahead as I put all my eggs in God’s basket. He will end up amazing me once again with how He puts things in order and does way beyond what I deserve. So, here I go again Lord Jesus. I’m free falling into your arms expecting you to carry me towards the promise land. 

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)

Piece By Piece

Puzzle pieces and human handsTo say I’m totally exhausted would be such an understatement. I can’t handle much more physically, emotionally, or mentally. My body aches all over. My eyelids are hard to keep open. Any critical thinking has the potential of making me go crazy. I’m becoming more and more dependent upon walking with a cane. I’ve had several times that my legs have felt like they were totally breaking down. 

The position I find myself in is both humbling and draining. If not for the support and grace around me I would have long ago been on some hospital’s psychiatric floor. This nerve condition just breaks you down bit by bit. Leaving you feeling like just a shell of yourself. It’s so overwhelming you can’t worry about tomorrow because you’re too consumed with trying to survive today. 

Honestly, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring my way. If I based things off how I typically feel I might as well file for full disability now. With 4 boys all still in school it’s hard for me to picture living with those limitations. It’s challenging enough to live with a normal income. 

Even still, I’m making every adjustment I possibly can in respect of my health condition. I’m not the man I once was by any stretch of the imagination. Slowly but surely I’m sorting through the damage that still remains from a major slip and fall that took place over 2 1/2 years ago. I’m having to learn how to walk again. I carry a cane in one hand and attempt to drag both legs that are absolutely worn out. 

I’m definitely in a sorting and sifting season. God will keep showing me what I need to let go of and what I must hold onto for dear life. There is no specific blueprint for how to handle all of this stuff. Yes God sheds light on your path, but many things you just have to process piece by piece, season by season. Only God sees the bigger picture as we can only see things from our limited viewpoint.

“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. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

Are We There Yet?

54AF7D43-FE08-428B-87AD-2B2938DD688EMy 8 year old son still asks the same question a million times on any road trip over an hour. “How many more minutes before we get there daddy?” Usually no matter what your response he just takes a deep breath of disappointment as he says “it’s taking such a long time to get there.” I’m starting to feel the same way about the longest road trip I’ve ever been on in my life. It’s been 1,005 days since I’ve been waiting on my major back and nerve pain to go away!

As I flip back through the calendar years I can’t believe I’ve been waiting 24,120 hours, 1, 447,200 minutes, and 86,832,000 seconds for God to stop my constant pain. To say I’m learning to be patient is an understatement. I don’t actually keep track of every second and minute, but I’ve got a little bit of my 8 year old still in me. Often, I just take a deep breath of impatience and silently ask God a repetitive question. Heavenly Father, are we there yet? It’s been a lot of minutes and I’m ready to get out of this pain.

Now, I continue to wait on my full healing knowing God is up to something. Yes, the car seat I’m presently in stills feels uncomfortable most of the time. However, I know God has me in it for good reason. All the reasons I may or may not know this side of Heaven. I truly believe God is protecting me while using this to propel His will forward. One day, He will remove all my pain and prove that even when I couldn’t understand He was creating a masterpiece that just took time. Until then I will keep waiting and trusting my Heavenly daddy with the steering wheel of my life.

“ Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

The Days Are Long, BUT

Jesus carrying the cross.

To my wife I know I sound like a broken record. My days are so long and never seem free of pain. I would love for God to go ahead and give me my new Heavenly body. One that is free of pain, tears, heartache , and any discomfort. From the human standpoint my current situation feels like it’s only in the way. Yet, God keeps whispering in my ear, “Son, I’ve never been more at work in you or through you.”

The spirit of God within me actually agrees with the fact that God has never been more at work on me. God definitely has my full attention as I’m compelled to seek His will in everything I pursue. Nobody has to tell me that I’m desperate for His help by the second. When God is done I should have the ability to endure just about anything that lies ahead. I feel out of breath most of the time yet it feels like God is breathing more life into my heart through it all.

As it’s been said, “everybody wants the crown, but no one wants the cross.” I’m learning that to say “Jesus do whatever it takes to bring you the most glory” is a big statement. What if that means you’ve got to be willing to take up your cross? What if that means God must reveal your greatest weakness in order to demonstrate His Mighty power? I’m starting to believe that the best things that happen through us come from keeping the faith in the midst of the most fierce storms. No, they aren’t enjoyable at the time, but I believe it’s when God is doing His greatest works.

“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)

Dads Matter Too

40486A9F-9F54-491D-B066-53830BE4E90D

We live in a society that doesn’t celebrate dads anywhere near as much as moms. However, even as a dad I understand why to a certain degree. We don’t actually give birth to any child. We usually aren’t near as patient. We usually aren’t around near as much. And, compared to most moms we aren’t typically near as sweet. But, there are some clear reasons fathers should be celebrated.

One, a home with a true father figure typically thrives way more than average. Whether a biological dad, step dad or granddad. If a dad steps up to the plate that home will be stronger. It’s the way God set it up to be. He knew that the Eves and Adams bring something special to the table. When either is not present someone significant is missing in action.

Two, a father plays a significant role in a son’s life. A son needs a dad to demonstrate what a real man should be like. A father can show a son how to be a provider, protector, and leader of his future home. Without this kind of male role model many boys never learn how to become men. Every son needs a father figure that can hold him accountable and set an example before him. Sons need a dad they can be proud of and one that can let them know he is proud of them.

Three, every daughter needs a father. There is no denying that in many cases there are momma’s boys and daddy’s girls. There is a longing in most girls for their dad to be their hero. Someone who shows them what a real man looks like. Those who when necessary come to their rescue and provide a steady source of unconditional love to them. Most girls with daddy issues carry those issues with them well into adulthood. Daughters need a steady father figure so they aren’t starving for male attention later on.

Last but not least dads should be celebrated because many of them work very hard for their families. The average hard working dad does everything with his family in mind. It might not always be spoken, but it’s his greatest motivation. They strive to do everything they can to provide the best life possible for the family they dearly love.

So, if you’re lucky enough to have a father figure in your life that really cares let them know how much they are appreciated. Those words will mean so much in a world where the title “dad” isn’t always looked at in a positive light. Despite the many dads missing in action there are countless dads doing all they can to play their very significant role.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

 

Better Than It Was

After a very long week we’re headed back home from family vacation. While it was a very rough week there were some smiles and laughs shared. I didn’t get to do much physically with them, but I’m still thankful I could even be around. It’s amazing how much just a few years can make such a difference. My wife did with the the boys all the activities I used to be able to do with them. 

As I mentioned before there were a lot of rough points due to my health. Because of no functioning tub in our room or pool nearby I had no way of easing the intensity of my nerve pain. I took more Valium this week than I’ve ever taken before. I’ve also had daily neurological breakdowns that I just couldn’t prevent.

The great news is I was able to have a really good heart to heart conversation with the boys. I know they can see my struggles are many . But, I needed them to know that daddy is fighting with all I’ve got. That many struggle with invisible illnesses others just can’t see or understand. I could tell each of them heard my heart and received my apology for all that went wrong due to my uncontrollable health battle. 

It’s lifted such a burden off my chest just to be real and to feel they have some greater understanding. As my wife drives us home I’m at peace and they seem to be as well. I’ve had to take another Valium, but soon I will be back where I can get relief. I will likely spend the rest of the evening in the tub. There is a reason we keep our best television in the bathroom as I spend on average nearly a fourth of each day in the tub. 

“This is the day the Lord has made;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118:24)

I’m Dreading Father’s Day

349A875E-2262-4AC9-924F-3145CFDACE76There is no denying that satan has been hovering over me like a buzzard. I’m sure he thinks any moment I will completely give up on everything. He has done all he can to tell me that I’m worthless and hopeless this week alone. I can’t imagine where this would lead most who don’t know Christ and can’t counter the repetitive lies with God’s never changing truth. I’m so glad that truth is hidden in my heart and able to be recalled with my mind.

As Father’s Day approaches I don’t feel the greatest. I feel so misunderstood and far from the man I want my kids to observe. I know they know I love them, but I don’t think they can fathom how physically sick I have been the past 2 1/2 years. By the way, that’s a long time in light of their short teenage years. We all know as parents we try not to burden our children with our burdens. However, I’m afraid mine have been too great to mask during this season of suffering. 

Fortunately my 8 year son has only seen a dad that loves, hugs, laughs, and plays with him. However, my 14, 16, & 18 year old boys have simply seen a man who is falling apart. During their most defining times they’ve not observed the calmest and sharpest dad. Just to try and spend quality time with them goes south so quickly as my nerve pain robs each joyous moment. In their eyes I believe they see a very irritable and out of control man. Not realizing that being this sick this long doesn’t give you many moments of feeling in control or up for quality conversation. 

By far my greatest grief has become not being able to be the man I would like to be to my wife and boys. Yet, time has shown it’s just not possible in my present state of health. All I can do is keep praying and trying my best to work through my present struggle. I’m praying at some point they will better understand my true struggle. That ultimately they will see a man who walked by faith even through the strongest winds, rain, and fire. I pray one day it inspires them to know with God’s help we can get through anything. And that even when it hurts God is still there. All I can do is trust God through it all and with them all. 

“I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” (3 John 1:4)

I’m At Such A Low

E537320A-6B3A-4583-92F5-764DDCD4DCD5I’m at such a low point. My heart is drowning in sorrow. Maybe it’s just full blown depression. I don’t feel control over any of my emotions. I feel like an unpredictable lunatic. It’s like my mind has blown a fuse that must either be replaced or replenished.

No one needs to tell me anymore that I’ve just got nerve damage. I’m pretty sure I’ve moved to being a nervous wreck. Seems no matter how hard I try I just can’t overcome the chaos within me. I know something has to change. I’ve got to get help from someone who better understands what is going on inside of me.

My precious wife and kids have endured so much just being around my chronic illness. God knows I’m doing everything I can to get better and be better for those I love dearly. It’s just not one of those things you master. These nerve surges hit me like a hurricane. They leave my head spinning, my body shaking, and my heart so broken.

Whatever it is that I need to do to get better I’m praying desperately God will show me. I can certainly see why great illness destroys so many people, marriages and families. I’m devoted to doing whatever it takes to get healthier and guard my family. No doubt in my mind that so many who battle a severe chronic illness feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Those that love them dearly suffer right along with them through it all.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
(Psalm 73:26)

Are You Battling Demons?

FFC989DB-F60B-4FD6-A98A-ACD4050AC0F6Where do I begin with this one? I’ve grown up knowing about God’s love, grace, and truth. Of course, it can take years to grow in fuller understanding and application of such truth. I know enough about God’s word to be dangerous. However, not matter how much we know or grow we will never arrive as perfect saints this side of Heaven.
After 33 years as a Christ follower and 25 years as a minister of the gospel I find myself in the greatest battle of my life. Many know I’ve been physically down for the past 33 months. I’m not gonna lie that my health has not been trending the direction I would prefer. It’s getting harder and harder to fight with this body day and night. Most of the time I just feel flat miserable. My hardest step each day is just to get out of the bed.
Now, one might be tempted to say “Well we all deal with something.” And I would respond by saying “I absolutely agree.” But, it’s important we each see the source of our fight. I know firsthand that the devil is out to destroy me. He is hoping to knock every ounce of strength, life, and hope out of me. He knows I’m determined to let Christ make a huge difference through me. The closer I get to my breakthrough he pounces on me like I’m his most hated enemy.
All I can do is stand firm in the faith. Renew my mind with God’s words of life while satan continually feeds me words of doubt. I’m a fighter, but I have to recognize this fight is so much bigger than me. There is a host of demons coming at me from every direction. There is only one name that makes them all stop dead in their tracks. That mighty name is JESUS. The only way I make it through each fierce battle is to face it head on in the name of Jesus.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)
 
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)

Life With Chronic Pain

88F8ABEB-592F-41E0-8F4E-CF4AE60B809EI just woke up to that old familiar feeling. Pins and needles running through my hands, feet, legs, and lower back. All I’ve even done is wake up to take my morning meds and sat up in the bed. When your body won’t allow you to sit up or stand up more than 30 minutes ever with great pain your options are few. I’m now laying on my side with my hands itching terribly to write this for you.

Those who deal with any ongoing pain or suffering know this stuff gets old very quickly. It greets you every morning. It stays with you throughout the day. It forces you to take something if you ever hope to have a moments rest. It makes most days feel more like a week. You might not go to the hospital, but you feel like you need one quite frequently.

Coping with this battle called chronic pain is a bear to handle. You have to take some medicine just to stay sane. And it would take a lot of medicine to ever feel pain free. Usually total comfort only comes from something that greatly fogs your mind and likely makes you sleep. Trying to live in any normal fashion is no longer an option for you. Because, no matter how hard you try your entire life revolves around dealing with this pain. It still hurts my heart to speak such truth, but it’s reality for so many of us. I can tell you this certainty from personal experience. With God’s help you can make it through each day!

“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)

My Breaker Box Flipped Again

8FD2D7CE-19DC-4EF6-AC19-43FF5990EF4D.jpegFor the second night in a row I suffered a complete neurological breakdown. When my nervous system hits the fried level there is no reasoning with myself or turning back. Something like electricity runs from my feet to my face. At that point every sound or move around sends me into orbit. Ultimately I’m left to feeling like nothing but a puddle of myself.

It left my body like everything was burned deep within. As if I had a seizure on the floor and I had pounded on the floor. I immediately took a Valium as soon as it came upon me. Finally the storm settled and life is bearable again. Both hands broke out in swelling, itching hives. All that went away once things went back to normal within me.

I was able to get out to supper with my family. Very soon after tonight’s episode God put on my heart that it’s time. It’s time for me to officially create a physical support for those battling any chronic illness. A chronic illness is any illness that last over 3 months and can’t be cured by man. Each of us need ongoing support from those who truly understand. Each of us need a safe place to share our story and be encouraged that we’re not alone. I will officially start things in September the week after Labor Day. I will seek God continually on the best way to approach this group. I know that countless others will be encouraged along with myself. I can’t wait to get started as God continues to use my pain and constant struggle. 

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Could Have Been Shot & Killed

5EE23C47-04AB-4EC0-9D74-FD366876BB8A

My family had a great vacation planned many months ago. It was at a very discounted rate and connected to a timeshare presentation. We were staying in a two bedroom unit with a pool, hot tub, and large indoor water park for the kids. Inside the condo style room was a full kitchen, living room, and jacuzzi tub. I knew I would be spending hours as usual in that tub no matter what the others were doing. I was just glad to be there with them.

Due to my health condition I knew we had to do everything with much forethought. I knew my wife had to do the driving there and back. I knew I would spend most of my time either in the bed, a hot tub or pool. I knew the pool and inside water park would keep the family nearby most of the time. I knew it would not cost much money and everyone would have some quality family time together. However, most of that changed after we checked in at the welcome center.

We arrived around 4pm on Monday and were told that the facility we secured over 7 months ago was accidentally over booked. The only option we were given for our family size was nearly forty minutes away from the original location. Upon arriving we discovered no pool, no hot tub, and two small inside tubs that could not even hold water. This place was in the middle of nowhere. I knew we were in trouble when we arrived. Everything we had planned changed in a moment.

The water park my 8 year old was so excited about enjoying daily was now 40 minutes away. No pool or hot tub meant very little quality time together. Without any functioning tub my body has absolutely broken down on me. All I can do is load up on muscle relaxers and sleep. Even now they are out together and I’m stuck in a room that is like a prison of constant suffering due to my extensive nerve damage. All I wanted was for them to have a great time and to occasionally enjoy a meal or pool time together. Earlier we realized even the gift card we were given for going through the timeshare presentation was $100 short what they promised. 

I must add the most unbelievable piece to this situation. The place we’re staying requires codes to get in each unit. We were given the code for room 143. After getting off the elevator me and my oldest son were the first into the 2 bedroom unit. When we got into the bedrooms there were clothes and other personal belongings everywhere. That’s when we realized we were given the code to someone else’s place. Fortunately, no one was in there at that time. I’m convinced we would have either been jumped or shot for breaking and entering into someone else’s property. We soon discovered by phone that we were actually supposed to be in room 123. Little did we know this would be the icing on the vacation cake from Hell. Everyone has tried their best to make the most of the disappointment. I can promise you this won’t break our resolve to seek and do God’s will. 

I don’t know what God has in store. But, I know it must be amazing. The devil has been absolutely relentless in trying to break us down with every step. All I can do is process it hour by hour. It’s knocked the breath out of me so many times. I’m fighting with all I’ve got to get better and most often just hold on to Jesus. No matter what I know that giving up is not an option.

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

My Newest Cane

3F16B301-E0C2-4815-A950-1FD8B6D8D18CHere is my newest  walking cane that I’ve been using the past two days. For my mind I needed something a little more suitable for a 43 year old. It helps so much in taking some pressure off my legs. It adjust to any height and is a cool walking stick regardless of what my 14 year old son thinks. I encourage anyone on here to do whatever you need to do for quality of life. Let go of your pride and adjust to where you are right now. This is a Wilcor Adjustable Hiking Cane. Can get these for only $20. 

E01C9A78-9357-4179-8899-C3053CC20960

 

Heavenly Father, Hear My Prayer

132BDF50-2530-421E-9FEA-C7C9C09BA8E2I cry out to YOU for what I don’t know and I can’t see. You have my full attention and my whole heart. My desperate need for Your complete intervention has been revealed time after time. I run to You for my daily refuge, strength, comfort and peace.

I praise You for all You have done, are doing, and will do. You have held me together when otherwise I would have clearly fallen apart. You have guided my steps towards any success all my life. You have provided for my every need and more. You have placed the right people in my life to encourage and help me. You have blessed me since knitting me together in my mother’s womb. I give You all praise, honor, and glory.
Thank You for everything good in my life. For every great relationship, opportunity, or piece of integrity only reflects Your grace and mercy. Help me to take none of these things for granted. Help me to never take the credit for things that are all Your handiwork on display. I long to give You consistent glory for it all.
Please take what I can’t control or don’t understand in my life. Use it all for Your designed purposes and glory. Help me to trust You fully with the past, present, and future. Use my brokenness, pain, and suffering to make much of You. Help me to stay the course of faith and to carry out Your pre-made plans for my life.
I confess to You my many sins and shortcomings. I thank You for total forgiveness  found only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Change in me any attitude, perspective or approach that is not pleasing to You. Keep me clean and close to Your heart. I surrender all things and all people to You. Have Your way Lord in my heart, my family, and in this world. In Jesus’ Mighty name I do pray!
“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. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.“ (Romans 8:26-28)

My Heart Breaks In Two Daily

0C2EB5B3-D7FF-49C0-9578-B2B7BCBEDE16Anyone reading this that battles with severe chronic pain is going to think I’m reading their personal diary. As I write this my heart is pounding and breaking all at once. I’ve tried so hard to overcome this battle, but it keeps overcoming me. I want so much to spend quality time with my family. However, in my condition I’m not sure anyone wants to spend much time period with me.

My nerve pain spirals me out of control daily. Masking it is next to impossible once it reaches tidal wave status. Just like the Incredible Hulk can’t stop himself from turning green. I can’t stop my nerve pain from turning me crazy. It presently feels like every nerve within me has been jerked by the roots. I’ve crashed physically and mentally as I’ve done so many times before.
Nothing hurts worse than feeling misunderstood. Sadly, I’ve concluded you can’t expect someone to understand what they can only fathom after experience. I’m broken inside and I believe at a major crossroads. I finally have to accept a word I’ve been dreading to associate with myself for a long time. I’ve got a major “handicap” that I’ve got to account for from sun up to sun down.
I can no longer live like I’m anywhere near healthy. I have to embrace my new normal until God chooses to heal me. I’m not giving up, but I’m not gonna live in denial anymore. All I can do from this point forward is be the best I can in the condition life finds me. I feel like I’m officially saying goodbye to the old me and hello to the new broken me.
“Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.” (Psalm 6:2)

DESPERATE For Relief

DCE844A5-6FA1-42F7-8165-7158B643FF8E

At this moment I’m just taking a huge breath in and then exhaling out. My pain once again has taken me hostage. I try so hard to work through it and even flat ignore it. Many times neither one is an option for me. My pain is just a huge cloud constantly hovering over my head. It’s so deep it makes me want to throw up.

Only those who have experienced it can relate or truly empathize with this level of pain. It’s like you’re at the top of a very tall cliff. And, if your pain moves one more step your doomed to fall into the deepest valley of uncertainty. It makes your heart pound, your body tremble, and your mind not able to be trusted. You just desperately want someone to be able to make it all better. 

Mentally, I had been in a much better place in recent days. Maybe that’s what makes where I’m at right now feel so unbearable. This pain just keeps sucking the life out of me. Maintaining joy is extremely hard in this level of pain. I’m probably overdue for a very big cry which I hope will come sooner than later. It’s like you’re drowning and no one near you knows how to save you. Lord Jesus I once again beg you to rescue me from these feelings of distress and madness. I know you can and will because You have never failed me before. 

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.” (Psalm 118:5-6)

Under Construction

01013806-66BE-40C5-B174-2DF37CE04C06
 
Not the way I wanted to start out my week. Woke up with my legs vibrating and heavy due to me turning up my stimulator recently. Had to revert back to my program that runs only 1 minute on and is off for 5 minutes. This program is much less taxing on my legs, but allows other pains to resurface. The other program runs every other minute. It continually sends pulses throughout my nervous system, but can easily over stimulate my sensitive nerves.
 
Regardless, I’m very grateful to have the spinal cord stimulator. Without it I’m not sure I would ever sleep soundly or be able to get around at all. It’s amazing they were able to create something that literally marches in rhythm with your nervous system. This burst technology has only been around since 2014 and is nothing like the stimulators people have used the past 30 years. Those are only like interior tens units. Those units are much more life disruptive and very taxing on the body.
Already I’ve had to take a Valium to calm my aggravated nerves down. Praise God I’m now in a much calmer state. The reality that I actually need this cane is still humbling. Especially when my 8 year says I look like a Grandpa. The other boys just say come on old man. Every step is such a fight. However, I have no choice but to let my wife to do all the lifting and driving on a daily basis. Just picking up anything over 10 pounds can have me down an entire day. Even still, I know God continues to develop me patience, endurance and character through it all.
 

“And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope andconfident assurance [of eternal salvation].”

(Romans 5:3-5)(Amplified)

Still Fighting For Me

A071E122-9DA4-4905-B4C3-87F5A133E486I just spent 3 1/2 hours straight in the tub. While it’s my greatest source of relief I can’t stay in there forever. My skin has definitely been reacting negatively to so much time in water. Even still, I’ll take the breakouts sometimes in exchange for the relief. Overall, my pain has been manageable. Even more important God has been giving me such peace. 

My legs have been very weak lately. I’ve basically had to get over my pride and use my cane to take pressure off my legs. It really does help a lot more than I expected. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get my day starts with my legs under 50 percent strength. While my legs keep vibrating I’ve had to keep my spinal cord stimulator running at a much higher level.

The biggest welcomed change has been in my mind and heart. I keep giving God my concerns and He keeps giving me peace in return. I feel so grateful for what I can do and how I do feel. I know things could be so much worse. While I would love all the pain to go away I’m so thankful for what God is doing. He is making me stronger in my resolve. He is opening door after door for me to encourage others through my pain. I continue to fight, but I can feel God fighting for me.

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

(Exodus 14:14)

What Hurts The Most

70B7927B-136A-4659-9945-EDA762260BA5

Recently, I was meeting with a lady to evaluate my health condition. We discussed what I’ve been through and what I’m still going through. How I’ve had to learn how to cope with my situation. Then I was asked “What hurts you the most?” That’s when the tears just started rolling down my face uncontrollably.

I said, honestly my physical pain is just a small part of my heartache. I’ve missed so much the past 33 months of my struggle. My oldest son’s senior year was simply a blur a year ago. I’ve missed countless ball games and band performances. I’ve missed being able to take my 16 year old fishing back when he couldn’t wait to get in that boat with me. I miss going out with my wife where we discuss things other than my back. I hated not taking her somewhere special last year for our 20th marriage anniversary. I miss being able to visit people who are going through the toughest moments of their life and who desperately need love and encouragement. I miss being able to be the husband, dad, and pastor I used to be. 

So much flooded my heart and mind. I guess I just needed to get it off my chest. All I can do now is trust that God has a plan for it all. My belief that it’s all been purposeful pain has gotten me through many a heartbreaking day. Even still, I believe confession is healing. God sees each tear that falls and knows by name each heart that breaks. He’s given me comfort during many heart crushing moments. 

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

(Psalm 43:18)

Lord, I Can’t Live Like This

6C4DADB8-7F10-474D-B5D8-A641DA08B9EBGo ahead and fill in the blank with your greatest issue or struggle. What’s that’s one thing you just can’t imagine enduring the rest of your life. It could be a relationship, health condition, grief or some other burden that makes you feel absolutely miserable often. If you live long enough you will face something that far out lives it’s welcome. 

For me, it’s certainly been this lower body nerve damage. It literally affects every minute of my life. My back, legs, feet, and hands are rarely comfortable. It’s not just been like this a few days, but since September 17, 2015. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being totally realistic. I don’t want to live like this the rest of my life. 

Now, I’m well aware that many others have it a lot worse than me. Those people help my perspective and increase my gratitude daily. Even still, I can’t live like this the rest of my life. Well. I can’t if I’m relying on my own patience and strength. I’m so glad the power of God flows through my veins. My faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that gives me hope beyond my circumstance.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

(Philippians 4:13)

Are You Mentally Overwhelmed?

CA9D7BA0-0E08-447D-800C-D903CE5BB306Today, I’m feeling the best I have in awhile “mentally” speaking. I’m learning that your mental health may be the largest contributing factor in any major uphill battle. I’ve had so many dark and overwhelming days recently. Therefore, feeling even the slightest bit optimistic stands out like a beacon of light. It’s not that I’ve ever lost faith in what God can do. I was losing hope in what more I could handle.

For the second straight day in a row I’ve gotten out of the house for at least an hour. Both times I’ve benefited from some pool therapy. In the pool, I actually feel normal for a short period of time. My weak legs don’t have to carry my weight. My mind is cleansed by the water and movement. I feel stronger within even when nothing has majorly changed. My burden feels lighter as I simply rest in the water.

Maybe this is what God has been doing for me all along. Many a day and night all I could do was collapse in His arms. Somehow, He has carried me and lifted the unbearable weight off my shoulders. I’ve not always been great at resting things on His shoulders. However, I realize I’m just killing myself when I try to man handle things that are way beyond my control.

“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)

Difficult To Swallow

8645C85B-98B2-41A4-B217-0A8CFA367BE5Deep down I believe we all hate major changes. Especially when it comes to things that affect us personally. It’s amazing how one major change can turn our lives upside down. Whether it be a change of relationship, health, finances, loss of a loved one or any other circumstantial change. Regardless, it can be difficult to swallow. 

I’ve now had almost 1000 days to digest the state of my health. While I’ve made countless life adjustments I’m still struggling to embrace them as permanent. I’m hoping and praying that most things return back to normal. I guess you would call that living in denial. I would call that something difficult  to swallow.

I’ve concluded that anything deeply life changing takes awhile to swallow. It takes time to let go of your past normal and to embrace your new normal. Time does bring some healing even if it doesn’t fix everything. No one can speed you through this process, but you’ve got to process things one reality at a time. Then, you must realize that God has a reason for every season. What may feel like terrible timing may be God’s perfect timing.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: …He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,11)

Beyond Just Pain

99FF5C35-B5D1-4EFD-BFD6-A56CDFD01635Chronic pain is so much more than just an occasional aching and hurting. You feel uncomfortable every minute you’re awake. The pain grinds you down minute by minute. You never get used to the torment. You just do your best to deal with it.

Medication is not an option as you seek to control what your pain in some way. However, most helpful medications all have some major side effect. I personally deal with meds that keep me foggy, forgetful, sleepy, and on edge. Anything beyond sleep is a great challenge to many who must take things for at least some relief.

Chronic pain limits most of your life. You can hardly enjoy anything due to how your body feels. Between the pain, drowsiness, and limitations you feel like doing very little. Any moments you do feel alright are very short lived. Sadly, chronic pain is a lifestyle not just a bad day. No matter what you do or don’t do your chronic pain is always a considered. You dell with it from sun up to sun down.

“Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.”
(Job 30:17)

You Would Do Anything

BE9E7E65-8D24-4A4B-A5B4-1797AED83E78I knew that hours after today’s events I would experience much misery. My skin is crawling from head to toe. Feels like piercing ice running through my veins and I’m itching all over. This stuff makes you feel so nauseous and miserable by the second. Makes it really tough to just ignore and not want to just jump off a bridge.

Sadly at the moment there is nothing anyone can do at this time. The only thing I’m thinking is I can’t wait to take my nightly knockout meds. There is so much I would love to enjoy. Quality time with my kids, my wife, or just getting outside in this beautiful weather. Right now, I can’t think of anything better than a great night’s sleep. 

For those of you that battle with something similar day and night I totally understand. It’s a form of nonstop torment. When it’s got you it’s all that consumes your every thought. At times you feel helpless and honestly hopeless. All you want is a little relief. You wish that you knew what you could change that might make a real difference. I’m afraid this is one of those things that can only come out by prayer.

“Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

(Mark 9:29)

Weak Body, Willing Spirit

2E57797D-8822-428D-AE7E-669BC1798008Well, I’m finally home after a very long day. I endured 3 hours on the road and 3 hours of intense stress to my body. I felt like I was doing exercises that most senior citizens could easily do. However, to me they all came with some degree of difficulty and discomfort. That’s what happens when your entire body has been on a shelf for a long time and you’ve been cut in way too many places.

Overall, I believe my Functional Capacity Evaluation went as well as possible. This time I did not have a complete meltdown. I had my Valium in my pocket just in case. Thank God I didn’t need that until we were driving home. All I discovered today were things I’ve known from many days of experience. My lower back still hurts a lot, both legs stay very weak, and my nerve pain keeps me on the verge of falling apart.

My therapist this time was the real deal. Apart from her 29 years of experience was the fact she actually cared about me. Unlike some before she was just assessing the clear facts while thoroughly doing her job. It meant so much to be around someone who’s integrity is not for sale. Her approach alone was refreshing and encouraging.

She said something I needed to hear. It’s the old saying of “if you keep telling the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Why? Because the consistent truth will never contradict itself. I have done nothing but speak the truth from sun up to sun down on a daily basis. I’ve always given my best effort towards recovery and I try to trust God for the results.

During our time we talked about how I’ve chosen to be transparent throughout this entire journey. One, because it helps me to process it. Two, because I know my story can encourage someone else through their story. The way this lady handled herself and conversation is exactly how I try to do with everyone I encounter. Maybe I can’t fix everyone’s struggles, but I can always choose to encourage others through their struggles.

Considering how this day could have been I’m very grateful. Yes, I’m back in the tub hoping for relief. But, inside that office I saw many other patients that were in way worse physical condition than me. I’ve had so many bad experiences so I was overjoyed to be in an office where I felt God’s peace. Overall, I just left with hope that I might be able to improve someday.

I know regardless of my future condition I have experiences that prepare me for ministering to thousands of others who battle chronic pain. No matter what I will not waste this pain. I will continue seeking to give God all the glory by seeking daily His good, pleasing and perfect will.

“Then Jesus said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:38-39)

 

A Very Very Tough Day Ahead

Jesus carrying the cross.

I won’t get into all the details on here as to all that I’ve gone through over the past 2 1/2 years. I will say that there is nothing worse than when you already feel really bad having to deal with lots of daily unnecessary stress. Today is another one of those days for me and I’m not looking forward to it. My body which is not used to even 15 minutes of intentional exercise per day is going to have to endure 3 to 4 hours of exercise today.

Last time I tried going through even half of this type of physical evaluation I suffered a complete neurological breakdown. I’ve been dreading this day for days. But, I’m having to go through this because my daily pain is still being questioned by Workman’s Compensation. Anyone who has gone through this grueling interrogation process for a long period of time in my kind of pain knows it’s an earthly form of Hell. You’re already in the fight of your life in so many ways and can hardly bare the thought of any other battle.

Most don’t realize that I’ve easily gone to 150-200 appointments over this time concerning my health. I’ve given everything I have to give towards my recovery. I’m still giving everything as I fight around the clock daily to not roll any further backwards. I could have long ago just laid on my couch and drowned myself in depressive thoughts. However, that’s not what I’ve done and that’s not what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna keep doing all I can while trusting God to do all that I can’t. I would greatly appreciate your prayers for my sanity especially today as I know it will be tested.

“The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”

(Psalm 1:6)

Toughest Time Of My Life

E727C422-3720-4453-9AEC-D501B493184CMy body feels like it must be at least 40 years older than my actual age. I’ll be the first to admit that I used to joke about the Life Alert commercial all the time. You know the one that has someone lying on the floor saying “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I can’t joke now that I actually know what it feels like to be in that predicament. It has turned my life upside down and made everything feel like such a chore. 

While I still feel extremely blessed I’m also very burdened. The days seem to be getting longer and the nights harder. My favorite time by far is when I’m fast asleep thanks to my medication. However, every time I wake up there are no real enjoyable moments. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I just felt good and was able to ignore this constantly aching body. The only way I could change that for now would be to load up on enough medication where I’m not even sure what planet I’m on. 

Now, while this is by far the toughest season of my life I’ve not given up hope. I still know a God who can and will change things in His perfect timing. God won’t put on me more than “He” can handle. He keeps showing me that I can make it through any valley because He is with me. God has rearranged my entire life perspective. I no longer ask why, but what Lord do you want me to do at this time? He just keeps saying trust me son and let me complete the work I started in you long ago. I know God is at work all the time even if I feel miserable most of the time. This work is not about me, but about Him. This work is not for human minds to understand, but for God’s light to shine in the midst of my greatest darkness. So, “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.”

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

 

You’ve Been So Faithful

88C7FE63-EB4B-4EB2-BBD7-8A113D538026In the midst of extreme adversity it’s real easy to get caught up in your emotions. In life’s toughest moments you can easily feel like things are falling apart. That your life has never been worse. That you will never get through whatever trial you’re presently facing. Trust me, I know because I feel all those things and more right now.

However, when I look back throughout my life all I see is the fingerprints of God. When I knew less than I know now, God was there. When I thought life was totally upside down before, God was there. When I couldn’t make sense of what God was doing in the past, God was there. So far, He has taken everything that once felt totally out of place and made it fall into place. 

Throughout my life, I see one constant theme that I can’t deny. I see God’s faithfulness in every moment. He raised me up to know His incredible love for me. He has directed me step by step revealing His amazing pre-orchestrated plans. Despite my many short comings He has blessed my integrity, marriage, family, and ministry. The only thing He has asked me to do along the way is to trust Him. 

Here I go again Lord Jesus even though I can’t make sense of the present madness. I’m giving it all to You as I trust fully in Your proven goodness, faithfulness, and love. Without You I would never be where I am today. Without You, I won’t make it one step further. Today and everyday I choose to free fall. I choose to let You lead. Because I know only one thing is for certain in this life and the life to come. Great Is Your faithfulness!

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

(Psalm 86:15)

Desperate For Refuge

2DC09340-61E2-4168-93EC-93BF5CB19817Deep inside I’m just flat exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually I’m running on fumes. You see, I don’t think you can separate these areas. All of you matters to God and contributes to one’s overall health. Just the fact that I’ve only slept a few hours the past two nights has enough potential to take me totally down.

I’ve got a whole lot weighing on my mind and going on in my life. I feel like I’m in the fight of my life. The condition of my body alone is holding me hostage minute by minute. To go anywhere or do anything takes more energy than I have at this time. I’ve not taken an intentional leisurely walk in over a month. 

I know I’m in the eye of a huge category five storm. The wind is whipping and the rain is pouring. I’m spending most of my time just taking cover. Any energy used I’m making sure it’s not wasted. I peak my head out occasionally just to see if the storm is settled. Then, I quickly return back to my prayer closet. I’m bathing everything in prayer as most around me just can’t be fixed by man. Thank God I have a refuge in the midst of the storm that would otherwise destroy me. 

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” 

(Psalm 46:1-3)

I Need You To Pick Me Up

BE9E7E65-8D24-4A4B-A5B4-1797AED83E78I would love to tell you that I’m strong and I’ve got it all together. However, that would be one of the biggest lies on the planet. I’ve never felt weaker than I do right now. I’m exhausted, bruised, and very broken. Just to be in my own skin is more than overwhelming. I need God to pick me up and hold me in His arms.

I really hoped by now this storm would have passed me by. But, when I woke to take my morning medication it was still staring me in the face. Both hands were burning red with some kind of nerve reaction rash that’s been going on for a couple months. My body felt like I could barely even roll out the bed to go to the bathroom. As I got up I reached for my cane because my legs are so weak I could easily take a fall.

I feel like I’m talking about some nursing home patient that I just visited. How could this be my body and my brokenness? I’m way too young to feel like I’m needing end of life care. To say it has taken hold of my life would be an understatement. Right now it has totally wrecked my life and makes everyday feel like a nightmare. I’m pressing, praying, crying inside and just hoping for my breakthrough. Honestly, I’m praying that I can pass this test of faith as I feel like I’m falling apart.

Lord, you know my heart. You know my weakness is greater than ever. Or maybe it’s just that my real weakness has been revealed. All I know is I’m desperate for your healing touch and comforting presence. I need you to reach into my situation and restore my joy. I need you to keep holding me together so I don’t fall totally apart. I need you to breath into me hope I can’t offer myself. I give you every pain, fear, and overwhelming emotion. Help me finish my race, keep the faith, and bring you much glory through this journey.

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

Not Feeling Well

99309636-670E-49CE-8573-5FD6C0062095Around 10:30pm Saturday night and I’m hoping to get to sleep soon. While I’ve done absolutely nothing all day I don’t feel well at all. My lower back is aching, my legs are extremely weak, and I feel very nauseous. I certainly hope my my stimulator is not over stimulating me. I’ve already got it on a very low setting. 

It never fails that Saturday nights are tough. One thing I attribute that to is anything weighing on my nerves has a chance to take me down. While I’m fully prepared to preach tomorrow there are still other factors I need to come together. I always need to sleep well. I need my nerve pain to stay at a sane level. And I need to have my ice packs ready to go both before, in between and after services.

No doubt that every Sunday for the longest I’ve been in desperate need for God’s help. Especially when the same exact time I’m preaching is the same exact time I’m usually sleeping. The only way I make through is loads of caffeine. I start loading up at 6am and continue to drink coffee all morning. It takes as much as 4-6 cups to offset the fog my meds would normally give me. As always I covet all your prayers!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

(Philippians 4:13)

Sick And Lonely

C75795EB-7F51-4022-8A16-215A4170389FAnyone who truly knows me knows that I’m an extreme extrovert. I rarely meet a stranger and love interacting with people. I still do enjoy the fellowship of others. However, my health has really separated me from so many. Other than Sunday morning church I typically never go anywhere with anyone. 

It gets lonely when you’re the only one home so many days. I can’t just walk out the door and do whatever I would like to do. Anytime I think I can my body reminds me that I just can’t right now. From driving, sitting, standing and walking it’s all very difficult for me. I spend most every day inside either in the bed or tub. After a while you simply feel like you’re on a deserted island. 

I painfully watch my wife and kids go places without me. Pretty much every weekend I’m just here and they are wherever enjoying life. And, I would never hold them back from getting out as that would just increase my guilt and pain. I observe many on social media my age that still have the gift of health. They are out and about enjoying things I’ve missed out on the past few years. I keep praying that will change soon. 

Thank God I do have a very strong support system. Unfortunately, many like me don’t have anyone around at all. They deal daily with what I call the greatest disease on the planet called loneliness. I pray for each of these folks daily. And, as soon as my health allows I plan to provide a physical support group for those who are chronically ill and isolated from so many who just don’t understand what it’s like to be in our shoes. 

“ Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Skin Breakouts

A1AD847D-BAFD-4E6A-9A4B-53D5B6E4E73FE05DF176-B7E3-454B-A18E-DE2F338B233F14E819E4-AACF-4412-9D2A-2ECB0C15C27DE40E07E8-9ED1-41A6-AA43-6463AE2B7739CCA18F72-518F-4885-9311-058BE407004C99D3FB20-926D-4FEB-940D-738F00CF8894107A3398-DD0D-46D9-87A4-2DB62853A82CHere are some pics of yesterday’s breakouts. They are there one minute and gone the next. They come in about every shape and fashion. Sometime I see lines, patches, dots, rarely circle, a have covered the inside of my hands with burning red many times. Folks you name it and I’ve got it. Feet, hands, legs, back, arms, and a drained mind. If you have any idea what this might be let me know. I do plan on going to a dermatologist. Crazy thing is the hands and feet major inflammation only happens most when my Neuropathy reaches a very high level.

My email is SCraigCrosby@gmail.com

 

Finally Some Major Sleep

026B3BDC-52C3-4A78-B80D-B0EF7D741154When I tell you my body is just flat exhausted I am not joking. I just finished sleeping almost 12 hours and I still feel like I could sleep the rest of the day. My legs still feel completely shot and don’t want to even be moved.  Both legs are presently vibrating inside.

Thank you Jesus for allowing everything going on within me to rest. Rest is still huge in me ever having any chance of feeling somewhat normal. I often say I’m very much like a golf cart. If you charge me for hours I can go a little ways. But, once my battery dies I’m completely done for the day. Of course, I could never rest like this apart from my medication and stimulator. However, most often I can’t sleep more than 7-8 hours no matter what I’ve taken. 

Stuck In A Rut

8F4239D1-07D3-4346-9429-462AA754F1B7

None of it happens overnight. It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Next thing you know you just feel stuck. You might not be rolling backwards, but you’re no longer moving forward. You know something needs to change, but you’re in a dog fight towards making those changes.

I’m certainly caught in a rut physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m so tired of fighting with my body the past few years. I’ve had so many highs and even more low points. I feel like I’m starting back at ground zero every week. I’m drained in every way and can easily get overwhelmed by the heaviness on my shoulders. After all, I’m only 43 and my legs are so weak I’ve been walking with a cane.

Deep in my heart I’m far from giving up. I know the only way to get stronger is one faith step at a time. I’ve just been stuck in a recovery rut for sometime. My recovery efforts have been morning, day and night for so long. It’s just so tough to maintain the necessary intensity and consistency for so long. We’re talking 985 days straight of climbing uphill just to be able to keep going.

I’m still confident I will get stronger. Life is full of seasons of ups and downs. We can’t let our feelings dictate our faith. We can’t move forward if we’re constantly looking back. We must be determined to make the most of each day and opportunity. Take the next right God led step and trust God for the victory. God will always take us through the ruts and give us reasons to smile again. I thank God for the ruts because it’s there I’ve realized I truly can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the LORD supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. The LORD rewarded me for doing right;
(Psalm 18:16-20)

That Old Familiar Feeling

D1F7AE4C-1474-492A-9537-5353A3500BFC

Chronic pain by definition is pain that is ongoing for six months or more. I guess have it since it’s been wrecking my life and nervous system for over 2 1/2 years. I have not been sleeping soundly lately. My medications are making me dream constantly and feel like I’m semi-awake most of night. This morning I was about an hour late taking my morning medication and it’s amazing how that still makes me feel. 

I woke up feeling like my entire insides are out of whack. Those same old raw feelings I’ve had for so long underneath my skin are still there. I guess such a big part of me wants to believe at least some of it has gone away. Then, I realize that my medications are only covering a little bit of it up. Based on the sensations alone it seems nothing has truly changed after 32 1/2 months. 

Sure, I’ve heard the doctors say I’ve got permanent nerve damage. Or that the stimulator was my last option at relief. I know in my head they can only try and manage the pain. Yet, it’s so hard to swallow the truth. Moving that information from my head to my heart is a very long journey. I’m still not sure I’m totally there in acceptance. I feel like I can’t if I’m to keep seeking to recover. If I’m to keep the faith things can change. This old familiar feeling is so not welcome because with it is that old familiar pain. Pain that only God knows if it will ever end this side of Heaven. 

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

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

(Psalm 6:2)

Health Update 5/31/18

3E695D00-CD03-43E1-8D3D-AF81CFA4580E

I’ve now approached 32 1/2 months of dealing with this painful roller coaster ride. I continue to write things fresh in the moments as God leads. I’m still praying that my journey can benefit and encourage someone on their journey. I’m hoping my records of what’s going on now can testify to what God alone has done later. Here is the greatest news at this time. While God hasn’t yet calmed the storm He has in many ways calmed His child. I’ve really been at a much deeper peace level since I saw my counselor last week. 

Presently, I’m still not back to any daily walking or exercise routine. My leg weakness has been greater than normal, but using a cane has helped me stand more upright. The battery I got implanted in my back is still a thorn in my side. It’s actually my biggest present hindrance when it comes to any exercise. It’s so easily irritated by any movement. The corners of the metal press constantly against my bones and skin. You can actually feel the heat coming from the battery when it’s very irritated. That can happen simply from laying on my right side or laying flat on my back while I was sleeping.

My nerves are still so easily ignited to high levels. Any level of stress, conversation or even my own voice can make my lower body vibrate with pain throughout both legs and feet. Even my own wife can’t ever tell when it’s a good or bad time to even talk or walk by me. I know you’re thinking that’s crazy. I would not believe it either if I hadn’t experienced full neurological breakdowns over and over again. 

The painful spot where everything radiates from is just as sensitive as ever. It’s no better if not worse feeling than it was prior to my first of three surgeries. However that spot feels dictates everything else. My legs, my feet, my hands, and my life. 

At it’s highest level I’m still daily seeing breakout red rashes all over. It just typically starts in my hands and feet. Even though my doctor yesterday says there is absolutely no connection between the breakout  rash and my nerve pain. There is no doubt in my mind the two go hand in hand. Because it only breaks out most when my pain overall is an 8 out of 10.

I am glad that the shot I got a few weeks back really helped the pain in my tailbone. My doctor feels I will need that shot every six months to keep that under control. All things considered I’m in a stable minded place. I still can’t stand dealing with the pain, the uncertainties, the breakouts, my limitations, or the fogginess I deal with from my meds. But, I feel I’m on the right track and mentally prepared to try to recover more. And the twenty five percent of relief I get from my stimulator helps me stay sane. 

Well, I could write for days about my condition, but I’m sure most have quit reading already. The only person likely to keep reading this is the person that can relate the most. I get it more than you think. No one understands the bizarre ups and downs of this nerve damaged condition unless they’ve been there. 

“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)

Rejoice Even In The Pain

99309636-670E-49CE-8573-5FD6C0062095

Pain is something I’m used to night and day. Trying to focus on anything is difficult especially with medication that keeps me foggy. This stuff changes your entire approach to life. I’ve been fighting with it all and through it all for almost 1000 days. However, I’ve finally reached a different way of coping. 

Now, I’m not content or happy with my situation. I’ve simply had to accept that this is where God has me for now. I’m wounded, broken, and in many ways just a fraction of the old me. However, I’m gonna continue to smile even in the rain. I’m going to find reasons to rejoice even in the midst of my daily pain. I’m gonna trust God no matter what has or does happen. 

What I’m saying is I’ve learned that you’ve still gotta choose to rejoice even when the pain runs deep. After all, pain is one of God’s greatest agents in shaping our faith and giving us perspective. Pain is often your biggest platform to demonstrate that the joy of the Lord truly is your strength. Let the tears flow for healing. But, choose to see and celebrate God’s rainbow of promise to all who trust in Jesus Christ. 

I know I’m still a work in progress, but I sincerely thank God for my pain. Because it’s only been through this painful journey that I’ve seen firsthand that God is near to the broken-hearted. He does give strength to the weary. There still can be joy even in the midst of great grief. For those who are in Christ always have hope and reason to rejoice. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit [your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance, and patience] be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

(Philippians 4:4-8)(Amplified)

Growing Old Ain’t For Sissies

8BB1E12C-FB53-4DAB-86F1-C9F5BFA962E6

Earlier my beautiful bride drove me to my doctor’s appointment in Charleston. Of course, I had to correct her driving every other mile. I can promise you I don’t make a great passenger. Regardless, it’s simply what’s best for my health at this time. I wish someone would have warned me that my wife would be driving me around in my early forties. 

To make me feel even older I’ve discovered that using a cane really does help me a lot if I’m walking or on my feet any length of time. So, now I’m walking around like I’ve escaped from the senior center. All kidding aside, I’m looking for a cane that looks cool. After asking my wife’s opinion she made it very clear that there are no cool or younger canes. She said, “unless I can find something camouflage.” So, enough about that.

As I looked throughout my pain specialist’s office it was clear that everyone in the waiting room had me by over 20 years each. Even still I was the only one in there with an inflatable cushion behind my back. Finally, they called my name back and I left my pillow with my senior short bus driver. 

While in the back my doctor let me know that I could only get four steroid shots per year. Then, we talked about the breakouts on my hands and feet. The fact my legs have been so weak lately and I’ve not been sleeping great. Then, all my doctor says is “I’m afraid that sore lower back is going to be with you for a long time.” Gee, thanks for the optimism. Finally, it was time for my wife to drive me back to my assisted living headquarters. I mean back home where I belong and will soak the rest of the evening in the tub. So, how was your day?

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

I’m Free Falling

12AB943C-C659-490F-A6D5-DAB995DF4B05I’m living in a season of life totally beyond my experience, understanding and education. I may have a masters degree in theology, but I’m far from mastering anything in my life right now. As a person, husband, father, and pastor I have so far to go. When you add up all my inadequacies mixed with all my physical disabilities it wouldn’t strike you as a combination for success. I’ve concluded that there is only one way to live moving forward.

I’ve chosen to completely free fall into the arms of Jesus. I’m trusting in His word to light my way. I’m trusting in His spirit to guide my every step. I’m relying on His strength to carry me forward. I’m relying on His peace to settle me when life seeks to overwhelm me. I’m trusting God for all I need as I continue taking bold, faith led steps forward.

The more I see the more I realize my total dependence on God’s grace. I can’t get out the bed without Him taking me by the hand. I can’t lead others without Him first leading me. I can’t live a stroke free life without free falling into Jesus’ arms of peace. I’ve quit trying to figure it all out so I’m totally trusting God to work it out. What about you? Are you free falling into the arms of Jesus for peace, purpose, and guaranteed success? Here is Jesus’ invitation to us all to free fall.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I May Have CRPS/RSD

C022E2EF-FD74-48CB-BE86-3A7CE678CADBAfter reading this piece about CRPS/RSD I will definitely be talking with my doctor later today on my scheduled visit. I basically have every symptom on here and it has definitely been getting worse. My meds put me out for about two hours tonight and now I’ve woken up due to the itching and throbbing of pain in my hands and feet. My nerves all over are so sensitive to just about anything. Touch, sound, stress, and therefore I can be startled or woken up very easily due to my extreme sensitivity throughout my body. I often find it very hard to explain. The Tell/Tale signs listed on here are me exactly now! I’m not sure if this is good or bad. Lord knows I don’t want to know any more issues, but I do want to make sure we’re treating the right issues.

https://rsds.org/telltale-signs-and-symptoms-of-crpsrsd/

My Hands Keep Breaking Out

Every time there is intense pain on my lower back nerves this happens. My hands start out covered in red dots and then just become beaming red. My left hand has actually been swelling in recent days. If the intensity doesn’t come down it breaks out on my forearms, feet and anywhere else it chooses. This morning it was actually on my right shoulder. But, it’s most consistently in my hands and feet the most. 

My body feels very unaligned. Like how you might feel if you desperately needed your back adjusted by a chiropractor. Unfortunately, with all that I got going on back there from my surgery area to my battery not just anyone can touch me. Even if they could they would be very limited in where they could adjust. It literally just has be touched one vertebrae at a time with extreme precaution. 

I have to say that it’s like I’m learning something everyday by firsthand observation. These breakouts have only increased like this over the past two months. While the tub helps relieve some pressure off my back it can intensive the breakouts even more. It’s crazy that now my hands and back have to share my favorite ice pack. Even still, I’m doing much better mentally dealing with it all. I just took my favorite meds so I will soon get some sleep God willing. 

“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)

I Really Feel God At Work

0A605E33-B49D-439C-B337-53C3E0270D77After spending over 15 hours straight  in the bed I was able to capture over 9 hours of sleep. I got out the house for the first time in two days. I discovered two hours later what I already knew. My legs are so weak that I told my wife I may start using a cane. Especially for any times I’m gonna be on my feet any longer than 30 minutes. I’ve been back in the tub the last three hours trying to ease my present discomfort. 

Now, despite the prolonged condition of my body I really feel God at work. Only the Holy Spirit can bring you such peace that surpasses all understanding. Only the Holy Spirit can lead you to believe that great promise lies ahead despite still being in the midst of a great struggle. Only the Holy Spirit resurrects hope and joy within that is not dependent on any human circumstance.

I strongly feel God at work in a way I’ve not felt for over two years. I know God has amazing plans ahead for me, my family, and ministry. It may not all be as I initially envisioned it would be. But, it will be exactly as God perfectly planned it to be.

I trust God way more than myself. I just know God is greatly at work in, around, and despite me. I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit resurrecting within me a renewed joy, peace, and hope. I can’t explain it, but I certainly can’t deny it. 

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.”…. “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 16:13-14,33)

You Must Remember

A8942A60-D6DE-4384-97C7-A79DD6136E46

I don’t know what you might be going through right now in your life. Maybe you’re in a lot of physical pain. Maybe emotionally you’re flat overwhelmed. Maybe your life circumstances feel like they will never change. Maybe you find yourself in the absolute fight of your life. Then, you definitely need to remember!

You need to remember the God who knit you together in your mother’s womb and brought you safely into this world. Remember the God who made sure you were cared for as a child. Remember the God who took you through your most confusing time as a teenager and adult. Remember the God who held you together when otherwise you would have certainly fallen apart. Remember the God who carried you through every past grief, heartache and moment of suffering. 

One thing we all must do often is remember the faithfulness of God. Remembering what God has done will remind you what God can do. God is not going to forsake you. God is not going to be outmatched or taken by surprise. God is going to continue to guide and provide for your every need. In the midst of your greatest struggle you must be reminded that God is still God and still good. God will continue to show Himself faithful time and time again. 

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5)

“O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother’s womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you!” (Psalm 71:5-6)

Celebrating Freedom, Still In Pain

Soldier At GravesideIt’s been another uneventful day. I spent the first twelve hours in bed with only half of that time sleeping. I’ve spent the last six hours in the tub. I’ve already taken one Valium and I’m praying that I don’t have to take anymore. My body has been radiating with nerve pain all day long. I’ve been living on edge every minute. Any sound, conversation, or wrong movement can overload my nervous system in a split second.

Many think I’m just being stubborn with the fact that I take zero narcotics. Yes,  I choose to not just keep myself doped up around the clock. Is it tough to endure at times? Absolutely! Have I seen firsthand what addiction to pain pills has done to countless others? Absolutely! I’m not interested in replacing one great issue with another. With that said, I do take what is necessary to remain sane and fuels potential rest and healing.

I could easily see myself getting a morphine pain pump in the future. However, I’m not relying on pain medications alone to take care of my problem. Everything I do and don’t do is done with constant consideration of my health. I’m not with family today simply because it was best that I stayed home. From sun up to sun down I do whatever I can to allow my body the opportunity to heal. However, I’m living on the edge all the time. I’m always just one step away from going crazy due this non-stop nerve pain.

Today, as we celebrate Memorial Day I’m thankful. I’m thankful for all those who have given up their lives for the life I live today. I’m thankful that I’m still able to be around with my family. Many soldiers don’t have that opportunity because they died fighting for my freedom. It blows my mind that over 1.2 million soldiers have died during U.S. Wars. God thank you for their sacrifice and thank you for another day!

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

Dear Self

8CE391BE-76B5-4171-9DF7-06336D5ED8A0 I write these kind of things to myself periodically. I strongly encourage you to do the same. May seem a little strange, but I believe you have to stay honest with yourself as often as possible. Just imagine you’re talking with someone else except that someone is you. If you can be truly honest this exercise will always prove to be beneficial. 

Dear Self,

I just thought it was time I check in with you. I know exactly what you’re feeling and thinking. So, I thought I would shed light on some things you need addressed, confirmed, and rearranged.

One, I know you’re very stressed over many things. There is hardly nothing in your life right now that isn’t creating lots of concern. Well, just like you would tell anyone else. All you can do is what you can do. Worry changes nothing, but prayer changes everything. Anytime things come to mind pray about them. 

Two, I know that how you feel physically literally affects every aspect of your life. Sorry, there is no accelerated path through this painful storm. Don’t give up on your miracle, but trust God’s perfect timing for that miracle. 

Thirdly, yes God is definitely using your pain. Beyond what you hear and see. It’s clearly a platform God is using and will use the rest of your life. Keep sharing the God honest truth of your daily struggles. If it helps even one person’s its worth it. 

Fourthly, forget about wanting to be the perfect pastor because it’s not even possible. It’s most important that you put your health before your help. Those who genuinely love you in the good times will still love you through the bad times. Remember your family should always be your first ministry. Always care more about what your creator thinks than your critics. 

Last but certainly not least, remember to keep walking with God. Marinate your heart and mind with daily scripture. Pray over all matters and God will give you peace.  Remember, it’s all about walking with God so that God can work through you. Keep your little hand in His big hand and let Him lead the way. 

Sincerely,

Myself 

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

FBAB62E5-C6F3-4627-B3AD-653117E10E30According to my Fitbit my meds knocked me out for almost 3 hours. I thought I would sleep through the night. But, I’m wide awake with nerve pain running through my hands, legs, and feet. While I might not enjoy it physically, I’ve been doing so much better mentally lately. It’s like after I saw my counselor this past Friday a switch was flipped back on.

I know personally that there is no greater battle that one inside your own mind and heart. The devil will do anything he can to make us feel like we’re hopeless and worthless. He preys on your weakness and dives in hoping to kill our spirit. I’m glad to say that he no longer has my mind and heart in the ditch.

I feel hope even though my circumstances haven’t changed. I see God at work in the midst of my pain. I’ve had a lot of time to grieve and process my current health issues. For most of us it takes time to get to a different coping level and mindset. Not that I’ve conquered things, but God has calmed things inside of me. Things that can only be the result of many prayers answered. For I must admit it doesn’t take but a few days of intense pain and you can find yourself mentally in a very dark place.

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

(1 Peter 1:6)

I Can’t Do What I Once Did

AF6D7D93-EF78-4D2B-AE87-3C615D5CCBE7.jpeg

Here I am laying on ice or heat for the 10th time since Sunday morning. While I have years of experience in ministry. Even though I can see the field with clearer vision than ever before. Despite  knowing how to allow God to lead my every step. Regardless of all these things just trying to preach on Sunday mornings alone takes all I’ve got to give. It honestly takes an entire week for me to recover.

My body’s present condition resembles someone like Peyton Manning if he were still trying to play football. All it takes is one hit and boom he would be down. Yes, I can see the game plan clearly in my mind. My heart is more in tune to what I’m doing than ever before. I know many are reliant upon me doing my job well. And, I’m giving all I’ve got to give. The problem is I’m only good for one day. After just one hit my body has to stay in a hot tub or keep laying on ice packs.

If I were playing football they would kindly encourage me to retire. My legs are just never underneath me. My back is always just a step away from totally giving way. Even as I write this both legs are just throbbing with pain keeping me awake. Therefore, I’m constantly doing all I can to transition from a once full time player in ministry to a best I can be coach. It’s not easy to do or accept. 

However, being able to still make an impact on this lost and dying world somehow is everything to me. All of us have to make adjustments in life as things change with us or around us. We will have times we grow weak, weary and are tempted to give up. Don’t give up, just make the necessary adjustments. Keep doing what you can, while you can to make the greatest difference with wherever life finds you.

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

(Galatians 6:9)

No Matter What I’m All In

307362AC-5A09-4CFB-AB73-98DBE1052963It never surprises me that it’s mainly Saturday nights that I struggle to get to sleep. I’ve got enough nighttime meds in me to put down a grizzly bear. Plus I took most of my nighttime meds almost 3 hours ago. Typically I would have been out by now. The only night I need rest the most and it just won’t come.

Tomorrow I’m preaching about Heaven. I’m certainly looking forward to going one day. No more pain, no more sorrow, and no more struggles. It really is hard to imagine such a place when all you’ve ever seen is this imperfect world. But thanks be to God, by grace through faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection I’m Heaven bound.

All I’m trying to do in this life is seek to honor God in every way possible. I long to hear my master say “well done thy good and faithful servant. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. It’s not all about my feelings, but keeping the faith. Faith that if you do what’s right you can’t go wrong. God will reward every believer that stays faithful even when it hurts.

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

Officially Call Me Psycho

5FFA4DDA-19F2-4E46-8FDA-B2746C5ED358Imagine a strong electrical current running through your entire body. I’m not talking about anything created by my spinal cord stimulator. I’m talking something that with or without my stimulator runs like a river through my veins. Every moment of my life I’m living on the edge of a very tall cliff. All it takes is any slight change in my emotions. All it takes is a sudden sound, movement, or perception of stress and my nerves quickly spike to new heights. 

It’s pretty crazy when even the sound of your own voice can take down your nervous system. I’ve always been a very extroverted person. Never bothered by crowds, pressure and I never meet a stranger. However, now I have to stop, drop and pray over every encounter. Just because I could handle certain things before has nothing to do with now.

I feel like I’m explaining someone that is crazy. Someone who has a rare psychosocial disorder. Someone that needs to be kept in a private bubble. Someone who should forget about ever trying to be a pastor, chaplain, or communicator again. You see, I don’t even have to walk out my front door to experience this freakish event. This is why I now must life moment by moment. I can’t assume anything and I must prepare for the potential worse through everything. However, I refuse to let this handicap be my excuse, but instead I want God to use it as His platform. 

“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)

Another Stimulator Change

CA4C9E75-F651-4BAB-9341-3B5EDE2BF5EC

Last night about 2am in the morning I had to adjust my stimulator again. I was not just hurting, but I was very nauseous not even four hours after moving my stimulator setting from a 4 to a 6. I immediately knew I was being over stimulated so I got my wife to turn it back down to a 4. For now, I believe I’ve found the best coverage I can get from the stimulator that doesn’t give me any negative side effect. I’m no longer nauseous, slept almost 9 hours and my pain is presently bearable. So, at least I’ve found some kind of rhythm again for pain relief even if that doesn’t translate to the activeness I desire. What was once insane is back to being sane. Also, today I started back taking my Turmeric, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, B12, and my multivitamin. I’m doing all I can do while trusting God with all I can’t. 

PLEASE HELP ME

DAB7312C-DD5C-4FEA-8AE1-EC29619BE736Last night I had a series of dreams. Not about imaginary things but of things I’ve observed in the past that still deeply move my heart in the present. In these dreams were people I had the joy of helping throughout Colleton County back when my health was much better. It was as if each of them were calling me by name for help. Maybe God was simply reminding me that these type of needs still exist all around us.

In my dream, I was reminded of homes I walked into that if you weren’t very careful you would fall through the collapsing floor. I was reminded of one of the times I took pizza to a nearby home and the starving, overjoyed little kids all but tackled me with the biggest smiles on their faces. I was reminded of homes I’ve been in where an old man or woman was dying, but had no family or friends helping them in their darkest days. I was reminded of a lady who was literally running down a dark dirt road after midnight in the freezing cold just to get a small space heater from me.

So much was coming at me all at once and the tears were just flooding my face. I was reminded of a young child around 8 years old who had never met his dad, had no siblings, and yet his mom was just days from dying. He said, “Will you just pray that God doesn’t take my mommy from me?” Just a few days later his mom passed away quietly. I had to watch this little boy tugging on his deceased mom’s clothes begging her to wake up. 

Alright, I’m gonna stop there because the tears are no longer in the dream, but my current reality. I could go on and on because I’ve seen these things and much more firsthand. These people live in my backyard and yours if we will just open our eyes and heart. How do you love your neighbor as yourself? It starts with a Christ-like compassion which leads to the execution of a God compelled love for others. Ask yourself, what can God do through me to help someone out there in true need? When you make yourself totally available God will lead you to the rest. Remember  that love doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

(Matthew 9:35-38)

Stimulator Adjustments

CA4C9E75-F651-4BAB-9341-3B5EDE2BF5EC

Last night I turned my stimulator up from a 2 to a 4 and I do believe it’s kept me sane. Earlier I moved it back up to a 6 which was originally where I had it before I had to dial it down due to over stimulation. I sometimes won’t know until 24-72 hours later whether it’s going to over stimulate my body. If it does I will feel strong vibrations in my legs, nausea and usually it hikes my heart rate. No matter what I’m thankful to have this device that for me only helps around 25 percent, but that 25 percent is huge when you’re hanging by a thread otherwise. Not a cure, but a tool to help take the edge off my nerve pain!

I Rediscovered Something

CFC58F23-F1C4-4BF0-AC2E-1579D20EDD7C.jpeg

Today, I got out the house for the first time in five days. I had an 11am counseling appointment that was an hour drive one way. When I got back home four hours later I got my haircut. Physically I’m still breathing hard and my lower body is exhausted. My physical pain is just as great and my nerves are stimulated just as easy as before. However, mentally I’m doing so much better.

Just to get out the house did me wonders. To get things off my chest was very relieving. And, while nothing physically has really changed my mind is in a much better place. I no longer feel like I’m wandering alone through the desert. I once again feel God’s presence and see clearer God’s purpose for my pain.

There is no denying that ongoing pain is a physical and mental battle. Either part can take you down. But, when both overwhelm you the buzzards will swarm. I’ve rediscovered that how you see things makes a huge difference in your ability to move forward by faith. My mind may not change my current reality, but it certainly helps me better deal with that reality in a way that honors God.

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

 

“But, Look What God Is Doing”

DA1F861D-6562-4D05-8428-102835CEB008

I just left from seeing my counselor for like the 25th time throughout my painful journey. It’s such a blessing to be able to share your heartaches, struggles and fears without feeling any condemnation. Many times God has used this man to be His Still small voice of comfort and confirmation. Today God used him again to speak life into my heart and mind. However, the words I want soon forget were “But, look what God is doing.”

Look how God is showing His grace to you through other people. Look how God is using your pain to encourage others through their pain. Look how God is doing even more through your ministry when you’re doing much less. It’s just impossible to ignore all God is doing through your struggle. God’s got to have His hand in all this somehow.

Nothing he shared could I deny. There was just too much evidence to not see the hand of God. And, while that doesn’t change my present struggle God did once again rearrange my perspective. I needed to at least remember that what I’m going through purposeful pain. God is using it to rebuild me, build His church and encourage many others along this broken road. So, here I go again praying God continue to use this assigned struggle as a light to many for Your glory!

“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. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

(John 9:1-5)

I Understand A Lot Better Now

BC9915A3-C97A-4354-8882-67CFD985C746

I’ve been by the bedside of hundreds of very sick and dying people. I always sought to meet each person with sincere love, compassion and encouragement. I always sought more to understand than to be understood. Man, if God were to allow me those opportunities again I would meet them all with so much more understanding.

You see, there are many things in life that observation or education can’t teach. Nope, nothing is understood more than that you learn through personal experience. No, I don’t know what it’s like to be told you’ve only got months left to live. I imagine words can’t fully describe it. But, I do know what it’s like to suffer for a long time.

I know what it’s like for your health to change everything. I know what it’s like to lay on your side for hours and hours in pain as you beg God once again to bring you relief. I know what it’s like to feel powerless and more dependent on others than you ever dreamed possible. I know what it’s like to be so swallowed up in pain you can’t get too much encouragement. Yes, I now understand a whole lot more than before what it feels like to continuously suffer. And, I plan to use every experience God has given me to encourage others with great love, compassion, and understanding.

“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Will Life Ever Be The Same?

E8E0DDCD-02D6-4B4D-AE83-28ED16F6616E

I would imagine this is a question that many ask themselves after a deep sense of loss. I know many feel this way after the loss of a very close loved one. Crazy thing is I’ve not had any recent loss of a loved one. No one in my strong circle of family or friends has abandoned me. Yet, I’m grieving inside as I ponder this question and stare my current reality in the face.

We’ve all heard the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I dearly miss the life I once had and the health I once enjoyed . It’s been so long since I’ve had that former life I’m really struggling to believe that I will ever have it again. I just constantly feel terrible. And, at this present time I only see a true miracle from above changing my current reality.
It’s not that I’ve lost faith that God can change things. I have begun losing some faith that God will change things. I don’t have the right to tell God what is best and will bring Him the most glory. I want so much to believe there will be a happy ending to this painful journey. But, will that happen this side or the other side of Heaven. I think the hardest things to grieve are things that you can’t just forget and move on. How can I when I’ve been sick so long and my pain only seems to be getting greater. Even still, I’ve got to trust in a God who loves me, has always taken care of me, and knows the plans He has ahead for me. It’s hard to swallow most of the time. But, my faith in a God who has never failed me before gives me hope.

“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)

Frozen By Design

Devil Scream

I’ve always been a very decisive guy. I typically see things real clearly. However, you get enough thrown your way and your mind is gonna hit overload. I’m just not physically, mentally, or emotionally where I can handle much more. I literally feel frozen as pain limits me, medication fogs me, and life’s demands overwhelm me.

All I can do is what I can do. One, I can pray continuously. Two, I can ask others to pray with me. Three, I can take one God led step at a time. Four I can ask for help from family and friends. Last but not least, I can trust God fully with both the now and later.

One thing I do know for sure. Satan wants to freeze us all. He does this by feasting on our doubts, fears, and even past failures. He whispers constantly in our ears “What if this and what if that?” He wants us to be so distracted and discouraged that we quit moving forward by faith. It’s at this time you must immediately drop to your knees and say the following heartfelt words to your enemy. In the Mighty name of Jesus get thee behind me satan.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”
(1 Peter 5:8-10)

 

 

I’m Such A Weak Man

391A5C2A-C1C8-48FA-964C-EFF5707A87E6

USC’s star running back Marcus Lattimore spoke some of the most powerful words when he said, “adversity introduces a man to himself.” Well, I’ve definitely been introduced to myself and I don’t like what I see. I’m so weak it’s pitiful. All this time I thought I was strong, but I have no strength of my own. My health condition has pealed back every layer of pretend strength. All that’s left standing is my faith in Jesus Christ.

Evidently Christ is enough to hold me together when life is totally falling apart. Evidently despite my extreme weakness He really is strong. Evidently Jesus doesn’t rely on me, but I totally rely on Him. Evidently no matter what happens I can get through anything through Christ who strengthens and comforts me.

I’m literally being attacked from every side. My flesh, family, finances, and future are being constantly bombed. I’m back to spending daily 14-16 hours in the bed, 4-6 hours in the tub, and any hour I’m not fully asleep in discomfort. The days are getting longer. The mountain is getting much harder to climb. My only hope is in Jesus Christ. He is without a doubt my only constant strength.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Late Night Freakout

1BF85E48-C589-4563-B119-61C807C22099

Had already had an evening full of torment. Was just excited to finally go to sleep. Was in a very deep sleep for 1hr and 45 minutes only to be woken up feeling like my body was being electrocuted. My stimulator was turned down the past 24 hours simply because I got tired of feeling like my whole body was constantly buzzing. The sensitivity of my nervous system is off the chain. 

Needless to say I turned my stimulator back up a few notches because the alternative without it doing it’s job can absolutely freak you out. Everything I’ve been experiencing lately has just felt like one big bad dream. It’s not an issue of just settling down or praying more. You’ve just got to hold on for dear life at times! 

There is no magic pill with this stuff. My nerve damage is so extensive that it still surprises me daily. The skin breakouts due to my Neuropathy continue to increase. Hoping I can get my stimulator adjusted ASAP. My wife is taking me Friday morning to see my counselor which is long overdue. I’ve just got to take things hour by hour and day by day. So far my favorite activity continues to be sleep. Because it’s the only time I’m not unsettled. I just continue to pray that changes soon!

“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)

The Pain Runs So Deep

CF57DBFB-57B2-4B9A-82C0-6B918929EDDA

I’ve said before that the best chance at me having even a somewhat bearable day is to shorten my day. Well, I got things started off right by sleeping from 3am to 2pm. Even still I woke up with my legs continuously throbbing. I have no answers to this painful reality. All I know is the pain within runs so deep.

It’s not a pain you can see, touch, or predict. All I can say is it’s like poison running through my veins deep underneath my skin. Constantly I feel this sensation that makes my skin crawl. It hasn’t stopped all day long. However, it’s not always attacking me with the same intensity.

Sleeping has become my only enjoyable activity. For to be awake is to constantly be miserable in some form or fashion. This deep pain is stealing my joy, killing my relationships, and making me not even want to wake up. I know these are deep words, but you must understand the pain runs deep. You torcher anyone long enough they are going to feel fried after awhile. I can’t imagine anyone going through anything on this level without the hope of Christ in their lives. I’m so glad I know Jesus and in Him hope is always in front of me 

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

God Did It Again

 

Over My Head

I just finished about 45 minutes of pool therapy. My mind is in a much better place as a result. I had to make myself go because I had to get out the house. I spent way to long dancing with the devil and swallowing his lies. I know the fight is far from over, but I made it through another day.

One thing that just keeps jumping out to me. You’ve got to keep taking that next right step forward. Reach out for someone’s hand to help you up. Resolve in your heart to do whatever you can to position yourself for hope. Contact every prayer warrior you know and let them know you’re in a very dangerous place.

I must admit I’ve been in a very dark place. I’m still very weak, but once again my heart has been renewed. I can feel the earnest prayers of many being answered. My strength to fight is still gone, but I know who is fighting for me. God must have something really awesome ahead because the devil is determined to break my spirit. I cried out for God’s help and He reached down and lifted my spirit.

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.”

(Psalm 18:16)

My Fight Is Gone

AEAE6D6D-E9E5-4F48-BDFC-4A2353D268AF

I’m no longer going to call anyone and burden them with my misery. I’m not looking for pity or just trying to get attention. My nervous system has completely crashed and there is absolutely nothing I can do. I’m holding on to Jesus for dear life as satan is coming at me from every angle.

I’m absolutely certain that my misery would compare to the majority that would ever be sitting in an emergency room. Basically, I feel like I’m in the hospital day and night. Except I have no doctor or someone telling me there is hope. My tears are many and my ability to process things just doesn’t exist. There are only a few things I know for sure right now.

One, God is still God even when life is miserable and uncertain. Two, satan is real and is determined to destroy me and hopes I quit ministry all together. Finally, I know I can’t let off the prayer pedal. I need prayers like I need oxygen. I’m out of gas and I’m out of fight. I’m having to once again trust God to fight for me!

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

Unedited Prayer

0F8F5A2B-0113-41E0-8929-7EB3526B56C3Lord, I’m coming to you with all that’s on my mind and heart. I really don’t know I can keep going on feeling this way. Then again I don’t know how I’ve made it this far. Had to be You that has carried me the past 32 months. You know I’ve been one step away of giving up on everything. Even still You are the one thing that remains constant.

I know in my heart nothing takes You by surprise. I know You have a plan for all this pain and misery. It just hurts so bad and seems never ending. I don’t like what I’m hearing from doctors. And it has gotten into my mind. Not to mention all my symptoms confirm their discoveries. In fact, my issues appear to be getting worse.

Jesus I need you more than ever before. Take me by the hand and walk me through this dark valley. Continue to use this pain that is just wasted misery in my hands. Fall fresh on me, renew my faith, and give me courage to keep moving forward. Hold me together while I feel like I’m falling all to pieces. I trust You fully with my fears, tears, present and future. Thank You for all You have done, or doing, and will do. In the Mighty name of Jesus I do pray!

I’m Struggling To Pray

F507EFEA-42A4-4BF2-AF45-17394E8B71A9

Ever find yourself so out of breath and miserable you can hardly pray. I’m struggling once again to even utter a sentence pray for myself or situation. The misery has gone on so long that I’m losing hope. The agony is so great that I’m consumed with nothing but pain anytime I’m awake. Pain at the level I’m talking about is completely exhausting and intoxicating.

My prayers for myself are back to whispers at best. Therefore, I have to ask others to pray for me. My fight is gone and with it goes your confidence to see beyond the pain. I know God can do anything as well as anyone. However. I’m so wore down I can’t think or see straight. 

The disruption within my body and spirit is choking my prayers. Thank God the Holy Spirit lives within me or I would be very concerned. I know I’m not holding myself together. I know God has intervened and is intervening on my behalf. Thank God the Holy Spirit is praying for me when my prayers are speechless!

“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)

I Hate/Like My Stimulator

7663A84C-6602-42E3-835E-EDE8EE304988

I really don’t know how I feel about my stimulator anymore. I’ve found if I completed turn it off I can barely breath through the pain. If I run it very low I have to deal with more pain. And if I turn it up enough to eliminate certain pain then I’m having to deal with major vibrations throughout my legs from the stimulator.

The anxiety throughout my body has clearly been off the charts. Anything triggers it to be worse right now. Loud noises, machinery, doors opening, phone ringing, text messages and pretty much anything in between. The sensitivity as a whole of my nerves throughout my body is very high as my doctor has recognized.

My skin continues to break out more and more. My neuropathy levels are causing sudden red rashes and lines all over. They are there one minute and gone the next. My hands and feed burn and itch like crazy. I’ve not take even one Valium since Friday. But, I’m very close to having no choice if something doesn’t settle down soon within me.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
(Proverbs 12:25)

How Much Longer Lord?

D121B7E4-8641-44D1-87CD-FBB4C85260FD

I was praying I was closer to my happy ending. It appears things could actually be getting worse. My torment just keeps lingering. Today has been pure Hell and I’ve only hurt more with each passing minute. The human side of me is tempted to ask “what have I done to deserve this misery?” I’m pretty certain Job asked God that many times.

I’m writing this once again to keep myself sane. It’s not been just another day. It’s been an absolutely miserable day. My pain is consuming every part of my body. It’s attacking me from the inside out with cringing nerve sensations all over. I would do or pay nearly anything for relief. For to continue living this way would not be living at all.

God I need You once again to intervene. I can’t go but so long in this state mind and body. I’m doing everything I know to do. I’m desperate for Your healing touch and calming presence. This misery is so beyond what I can endure in my strength. Rescue me from my torment and help me to rest tonight.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
(Psalm 13:1-6)

 

 

 

Jesus Fell Asleep On Me

C2450170-1BD2-4192-9246-0515B8BBE6E6

I believe we always find ourselves in one of three zones. We’re either headed for a storm, in a storm, or just got through a storm. There is one more zone which I find myself in right now. I’m in the eye of the storm which is that zone most overwhelming, frightening, and constantly painful. In fact, during this zone we all cry out for mercy and would give anything for things to calm down.

I’m talking about the difference between a level 5 pain versus a level 10. The difference between a category 1 hurricane and a category 5. The difference between kinda concern and desperate for a breakthrough. The difference between a long day versus an extremely uncomfortable season. Maybe you can’t even explain how you feel, but you know you’re in the eye of a mega storm.

While I still have many blessings in my life I’m just flat miserable. My skin has been crawling nonstop with nerve pain. There is no comfortable position for me to sit or lay down. I’m so sick of being in this tub or bed of nonstop pain. My patience valve has officially busted. I simply can’t see past this misery from where I stand now. All I can do is cling to my faith because none of my feelings are helpful at this time. If I didn’t know any better I would think for sure Jesus must be sleeping through my prayers.

“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”
(Matthew 8:23-27)

No Longer Me

7D86F86A-48EC-4212-8BBE-55411E986788

A few years ago I could handle pretty much any crisis that came my way. Whether it be a sudden death, marriage crisis, or being the bearer of extremely bad news. It wasn’t that I enjoyed all those things happening, but I found great joy in helping others when they needed it the most. I truly felt called to go and do what most just don’t. Man have things drastically changed in my life.

Today, was just like hundreds of days before it. I’ve been in the bed or bath all day. Even the slightest crisis overwhelms me right now. In fact, even deep conversation about anything can create lightening all throughout my body. I’m still getting used to the clear evidence that I can’t handle even 25 percent of what I could 32 months ago. I just can’t believe how much things have changed.

Now, its like dealing with the total death of the old me. It’s like my slip and fall mimicked a really bad car wreck. Then, you wake up to discover a reality you just can’t comprehend. It’s depressing, painful, and completely life altering. Even as I write this my entire body is surging and vibrating with nerve pain. My pain is fueled even further if I try to approach life somewhat normal. In fact, right now my life is anything but normal. My only hope both now and forever is in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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

One Step Away

47B2B1E5-A2C5-4070-A6A2-1FBAF2A0CA48

There is a longing in each of us to arrive to a certain point in life. A time when we no longer struggle. A time when we’ve got life all figured out. A time when we can just kick back and enjoy nonstop sunny days. I’m afraid what we’re searching for won’t be found this side of Heaven.

You see we’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world. Jesus said this life would be full of many trials and sorrows. That only through him could we find constant peace. Maybe that explains why when we look to anything other than him to fulfill us it only becomes one more thing that lets us down. It’s like we can’t get our hearts and minds to constantly realize without him we’re always one step away from falling apart.

For so long I’ve felt just one step away from collapsing. Just one step away from drowning in life’s stress. Just one step away from having more pain than I could ever bear myself. Just one step away from a total nervous breakdown.

But, somehow when we are weak, He is strong. When we are close to giving up, He shows up. He keeps giving us the grace and strength we need when we need it most. While we may feel one step away from the danger zone Jesus is always there to meet all our needs.

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

(Psalm 46:1)

Another Eventful Day

1BF85E48-C589-4563-B119-61C807C22099Well, I started out my day very grateful for the 6 hours sleep I got last night. Then, I headed to church to preach a message God had already burned in my heart. I knew if I could just stay out of God’s way lives would be changed. Both services were full as I shared a message called “Preaching Your Own Funeral.” You see, a pastor may speak at your your end of life celebration, but your life will speak louder than any words spoken that day.

About 15 minutes prior to the 9:15am service something frightening occurred. One of my leaders simply walked into my office while I was looking over my message one final time. Just the sound of the door opening sent shooting pains from my feet into my chest in just seconds. I’ve had similar experiences so many times I knew what was next. All it would take was one more nerve spike and I would experience a total neurological breakdown. I knew if that occurred during the service I would be crying uncontrollably for quite sometime.
Praise God, I made it through two services. I had to lay on ice 4 different times throughout the morning. I had to pray constantly that God would hold me together as I felt just one step away from falling apart. My hands, arms and face have been breaking out with red splotches and lines all day due to my high level of neuropathy. Pretty much everyday I’m seeing something new and progressive with my nerve pain. But, I made it through another day with God’s help, 4-5 cups of coffee, and a lot of icing. I’ve spent the evening in a relieving hot tub and hopefully I can sleep through the night.
“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”
(Philippians 4:13)