The Attacks Are Relentless

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

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

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

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

I Feel So Much Better

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

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

16 Days Of Discipline

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

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

CBD Caplets Work

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

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

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

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

Take The Next Right Step

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

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

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

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

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

A Mutual Blessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cuts Right Through Me

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

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

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

“This High Preist of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faces all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it the most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

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

Not A Good Night

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

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

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

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

Momentum Is A God Thing

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

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

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

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

Pour Through Me Lord

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

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

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

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

Continued Strides

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

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

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

(Philippians 3:13)

Because Of The Struggle

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

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

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

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

Quality Family Time

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

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

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

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

Don’t Give Up

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

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

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

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

11 Days Changed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Are You Headed?

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

#1 We All Need Clear Goals.

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

#2 You Need Worthwhile Goals.

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

#3 You Need Prioritized Goals.

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

#4 You Need Foundational Goals.

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

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

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

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

Dear Weary Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t Go But Up

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

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

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

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

Another Big Step Forward

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

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

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

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

Gotta Keep Pressing

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

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

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

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

 

 

Rescued From A Well

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Bury Your Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

900 Articles Later WOW

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

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

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

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

I Refuse To Go Back

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

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

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

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

Measurable Progress

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

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

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

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

Trying To Remove My Crutch

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

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

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

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

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

How Am I Doing?

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

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

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

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

Characteristics Of A Great Woman

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

#1. She is forgiving. 

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

#2. She is faithful. 

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

#3. She is thoughtful. 

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

#4. She is patient.

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

#5. She is respectful.

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

#6. She is constant. 

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

#7. She is trustworthy. 

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

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

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

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

It’s Like This, Now What?

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

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

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

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

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

Broken & Believing

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

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

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

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

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

Still In The Wilderness

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

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

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

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

7 Years And Counting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Shopping

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

My Funeral Arrangements

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

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

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

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

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

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

THESE THINGS WILL BE ASSESSED WHEN YOU DIE:

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

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

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

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

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

5 Things I Hope Are Said When I Die:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Fighting, Keep Believing

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

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

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

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

Joy Comes In The Morning

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

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

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

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

Understanding My Condition

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

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

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

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

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

(1 Peter 4:12-13)

We’re All Very Disappointed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking The Mask Off

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes God Works Fast

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

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

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

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

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

Give Up The Fight

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

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

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

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

Been A Long Night

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

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

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

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

His Strength Is Enough

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

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

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

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

Love Like Jesus

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

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

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

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

Finding True Joy

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

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

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

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

Thankful For Good Moments

My evening has been so much better than my entire day. There are many things that have still not changed with my health condition. However, one thing that has changed is my perspective. What I used to call just a bad day I now call blessed. Great brokenness helps you realize your blessings.
Earlier I ran up town to pick up something to eat. Someone asked me how I was doing. I simply responded “blessed.” I truly meant what I was saying. I was so happy I could hold my head up and pickup my own food. How I felt in that moment was so much better than I had felt all day. Those moments that feel like Hell make you so appreciative of the moments that are more like Heaven.
Truly, the rainy days make you so thankful for sunshine. It’s so easy to take for granted the good moments. In fact, you can easily mistake good moments for bad ones. Any moment you find reason to smile it’s a good moment. No, it’s actually a God moment. Because every good thing comes from God.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Write About It

One day I will release a book to help others deal with their pain by faith. Until then and beyond I will keep writing about my own painful journey. Not in an attempt to wallow in my suffering. Instead, I’ve discovered something I believe can help anyone working through pain. All you’ve got to do is grab a pen and paper.
You see, when pain is harbored inside it just takes you down further. It only feels wasted and overwhelming. When you process it there is a level of release. You are then allowing God to use it as a platform to encourage others. Sure, not everyone will get it. However, those who can identify with your pain will. They will realize you understand them and that they are not alone. You will grow through the process. You will discover a deeper sense of purpose for your pain.
Daily I write things to process my pain. I seek to share anything that might benefit someone else going through a struggle. Writing things down documents lessons learned, measures progress and forces me to work through my feelings. Sharing things to help others gives me a joy despite my pain. So, grab a pen or start typing away on your keyboard. It can do wonders for your healing and will likely touch the heart of someone else.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”                        (2 Corinthians 1:4)
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

I’m Ok Except For This

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

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

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

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”                         (9’2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

What Keeps Me Going

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Always Run

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

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

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

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

I’m Only Human

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor’s Wives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Override My Humanity

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

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

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

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

Back To Life & Reality

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

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

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

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” 

(1 Corinthians 10:23)

Reading Other People’s Mail

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

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

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

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

God Rescued Me

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

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

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

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

“Just Say No” to Media Madness

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

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

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

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

Dear Rivalry Fan

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

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

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

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

Just Keep Faith Walking

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

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

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

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

Look For Reasons To Celebrate

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

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

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

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

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Touched By Childlike Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank God Seasons Change

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

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

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

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

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Pain Connects, God Comforts

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

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

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

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

My Limitations Frighten Me

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

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

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

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

Parents Wake Up

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

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

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

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

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

Breakthrough Has Come

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Going On Strike

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

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

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

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

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

Reason For The Season

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

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

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

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

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

Continue To Learn

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

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

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

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

I Can’t Stop This Feeling

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

You find yourself feeling depressed in quick fashion. All you feel you can do is lay on your side as I’m doing now. You feel like a fish out of water just desperate for the pain to go away. Your prayers are silent as you don’t have much energy to spare. All you know is you want to feel better as soon as possible.
There is always the fear that this may be your best and things can always get worse. Especially when you know this is a condition you’ve had for over three years. Especially when you know if not for your medications you would never get out of bed. That even with your medications it’s still a chore. I guess it’s always hard to swallow having a “chronic” illness when you’ve spent most of your life extremely healthy. The cycles in your mind always bring you back to the basics of the faith. Those basics always start with “Let Us Pray.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

When The Present Pain Blinds You

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

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

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

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

This Thorn In My Flesh

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

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

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

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Uncomfortable In My Skin

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

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

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

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

You Must Stay Proactive

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

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

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

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

Dads Lives Matter

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

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

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

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

Sunny Side Up

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

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

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

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

Long Time Coming

It’s been five long months since I last got my spinal cord stimulator adjusted. Like a car with high mileage it’s long overdue for a tuneup. I’ve been blessed by its overall consistency. Along with medications and lots of prayer it’s kept my nervous system from completely going haywire. However, I know I’m always living on the edge of uncertainty.

In so many ways my nervous system reflects each of our lives. You never know what the next minute might bring. Whether you will be desperate for relief or lifting your hands in praise. You make your plans and then discover the reality each day brings. You fight to keep things under control. Then, you realize who is really in control.

So, often we are living on the edge of a total breakdown. We must make necessary life adjustments. We must let God guide our every step. We must turn things over to God for peace and patience. We must continually trust God in the midst of our uncertainties. Often we’re long overdue for an adjustment only God’s power and presence can bring. 

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

Gotta Keep Learning

I’ve been in some capacity of leadership for over twenty five years. Like most leaders I’m not sure I ever realized all it would require of me. It has definitely been a constant trial by fire. As soon as I feel I’ve learned one thing I realize how much more there is to know. The good news is I’ve continued to learn and grow. 

In fact, any leader not continuing to learn themselves can’t effectively lead others. Why? Because you can’t lead anyone a direction you aren’t headed yourself. To keep growing a leader must remain teachable. The unteachable think they know it all and are taken down by their pride. The teachable remain humble and hungry for greater understanding.

Whether as a spouse, parent, friend, or pastor I always have much room for improvement. My heart’s desire is to remain a student in all areas. I know success as a leader depends on me never thinking that I have arrived. I’m not who I used to be, but I’m far from who I long to be. So, while it may often be painful to lead others I accept the challenge. I will embrace that challenge by learning one life lesson at a time. Most of these lessons are only learned under fire with a teachable spirit. 

“For whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a yearning for truth], even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matthew 4:25)(AMP)

Finding New Strength

I believe it’s critical we don’t just talk about our problems, but always recognize the praiseworthy. Well, considering my present health and past days I’ve got much to celebrate. I’ve now had four bearable pain days in a row. I’ve not had one night of terror and got decent sleep everyday. Praise God, my days have not just been consumed with pain as my only identity.

God has kept my spinal cord stimulator regulated. My entire nervous system is being kept in check. My legs still feel heavy, but they aren’t aching. My lower back remains sensitive, but has allowed me some normalcy. My heart and my mind just feel real positive. I can finally say the pain is not just ruining my life.
I believe there are many reasons for this calmness within me. One, my meds and my stimulator are working. Two, I really have learned to rejoice no matter the circumstances. Three, I really do see my struggle as a divinely allowed season. Fourthly, I can truly say I’ve rested everything in God’s hands and sought to trust Him with it. Perspective matters so much when you’re dealing with any pain. I truly thank God for the strength and relief in my body, mind and soul the past four days.
“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

My Limitations, God’s Blessings

I’ve had a very rough week overall. Yet, the blessings in my life keep overflowing. God is showing me day by day how blessed I really am. I’ve honestly reached the point where I’m thanking God for my suffering. I’m learning so much, growing stronger, and seeing God do some pretty amazing things. All of this due to my great limitations that are turning into great expectations. 

It’s real easy to say God do whatever it takes to accomplish your will in my life. Then, suddenly when discomfort arises we just want relief. As much as I would love total relief I don’t want to hinder what God is doing. I simply can’t deny that God is doing more in the midst of my struggles than ever before. I now fully realize this is all a part of God’s divine plans.

God is getting me over myself. God is helping me see the true source of my strength. God’s power is more evident in the midst of my weakness. God is giving me such opportunity to encourage others dealing with similar pain. God is blessing me and allowing me to be a blessing to others. While it’s not easy to keep taking up my cross I’ve got such peace. The peace of knowing I am right in the center of God’s will and God is greatly at work. 

“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)

Making Adjustments NOW

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize one consistent thing in my life right now. I can’t afford to not stay on top of the pain. Because once it’s on top of me I’m completely at it’s mercy. My worst times have all been at night usually after 9pm. I’ve been watching this trend the last few weeks. But, I’m at that point where I’ve gotta make adjustments!

There is never a minute of my life that I’m totally pain free. Apart from a miracle that will always be the case. However, there is a big difference between my day time bearable pain and the nighttime horrifying pain. I know that in order to deal with the nighttime pain I must be proactive. By 8 pm I need to have taken all my nighttime meds. I need to be laying down on my side by 9pm at the latest. It’s just where my limitations are at this time.

I’ve not been respecting the boundaries my body keeps showing me are necessary. It doesn’t matter what I used to do or what others can do. For me, I’ve gotta body that is much like some in a nursing home. Either I’m able to be up or need to be totally down. I’ve got to watch for warning signs. I’ve got to remind myself how terrible things will be if I don’t make the adjustments every night. So, I’m believing that tonight will be totally different. I’m doing alright right now. I will continue to let God give me discernment step by step. I won’t forget the past few nights anytime soon.

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Dear God, Why?

For the first time ever I can relate to Job’s mentality in questioning God. Job had reached his breaking point. He had experienced unthinkable loss of everyone in his immediate family. He had lost everything he worked so hard to attain. His body was so miserable from the constant allowed attacks of the evil one. Yet, job knew in his heart He was seeking God’s will in every way possible.

I find myself wanting to say, Why? Why Lord am I going through such misery? Why do I have to endure such suffering? Why are you allowing such chaos when you know I’m seeking You with all my heart? Why is this part of your divine plan? Why are you still not relieving me from this torture chamber?

I’m sure Jesus felt the same way. Father God why is the cross necessary? Why do I have to endure such pain, sorrow, and misery? Why do I have to be crucified for other people’s sins? Why? Why? Why? It’s a human response for us all. And, while we may not see it all right now there is always a reason for the season. 

“If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? (Job 7:20)

Help Me Hold On

Sometimes you just know you are being chased down by countless demons from Hell. The attack is so real that all you can do is run for your life. The more determined you are towards seeking God’s will the greater the demonic attack. The more the intensity rises the harder it is to keep going. You feel like you can’t go much further and humanly you want to give up the fight. 

Here I go again feeling like I’ve been attacked out of nowhere. I feel like a fish that’s been out of water for way too long. Like a boxer who has lasted 15 rounds, but is one hit away from experiencing a complete knockout. Just like all the times before I hate every minute of this misery. I’m begging God to send down 10,000 angels to my rescue. 

This ongoing battle is so intense. I know satan is just hoping I will throw in the towel. That I will just give up this fight and forsake God’s clear orders. Fortunately, I understand how he preys upon the weak. How he hopes to wear us down before he  takes us down. But, quit is not an option and I can smell great breakthrough in the air. God help me hold on as I know this purpose driven journey will be worth the struggle. 

“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)

Last Night Was Awful But….

Last night was one of the most painful nights I’ve had in a long time. I’m sure I’ve had worse in days gone by. However, for a few hours I felt a level of pain I’ve not felt in quite some time. When it hits you suddenly at that level you’re shocked and quickly broken down. It’s usually a product of being too tired, trying to live normal, or too much on my mind. Anyone of those things can send my nerve wrecked body in the ditch of severe pain.
Praise God all the extra medication finally kicked in at some point. While it leads to many bad dreams I’m thrilled to say I got nearly 10 hours sleep. As I lay here on my side I feel like I’m recovering from a severe seizure. Why? Because it does what it wants with my body and there is nothing I can do. When the seeming forever intense episode is done my body feels fried and toasted within. This is why I’ve said that I’ve had numerous full body neurological seizures.
I’m sure that’s not the proper term for things, but it’s the best way I can explain it. I certainly didn’t see last night coming. I can also tell you that I’ve had that kind of episode countless times. You can’t think clearly or see hope when you’re in its grips. Even anything around me such as a cell phone that vibrates or a certain noise can take me over the edge. Anyway, I’m praying God shows me what to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again any time soon. Just thanking God for much needed sleep and present relief from that insane pain.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Trying To Stay Sane

I’m doing this for my own sanity. I don’t know anything else I can for now. I’ve taken all the meds I can that I’m praying will kick in very soon. I’m absolutely living on planet miserable. I wish I had an iv full of morphine right now.

I know I will get through this season. But, I keep wondering if that includes this very minute. Fortunately, I’ve been in this place many times before. Otherwise I would be crawling to some ER begging for help. I recall clearly the first time I ever rushed to the doctor over this matter. When they asked “why are you here to see the doctor?” My answer was simple “Tell them I’m going crazy!”

I’ve battled this over 1150 days. Yet, I still feel like a child that just needs his mommy. Speaking of moms thank God mine had prayed for me continuously. I’m certain it’s only been those prayers that have kept me sane. I know I’m rambling, but I’m just trying to distract myself from this blinding pain. Better yet if you’re reading this just pray God will once again lift me out of this pit of seeming despair.

“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)

You Can Only Take So Much

I’ve been awake the past 19 hours. I was fast asleep until the 4am cooler morning temperatures ran right through my nerve damaged body. All day I’ve felt like ice coals are running through my veins. After awhile it literally sucks the life out of you. I’ve just about reached that point where I would do about anything for some relief. 

You can only take so long of nonstop aching and nauseous pain. It’s literally running from my feet into my face. I told my wife you can only put mind over matter for so long. Yes, intense pain for too long can take you down some scary roads. Before you know it you’re just a shell of yourself desperately wanting relief anyway you can get it. 

I can totally understand why many in this kind of pain turn to whatever might stop it. At some point they reach a point of losing it. If not grounded and supported they turn to whatever they feel gives them the quickest fix. That may be a drug, drink, or something much more dangerous. This struggle has given me a sneak peak into understanding why some good people make some very bad decisions. They are just trying to cope and find some comfort. Apart from Christ I don’t know how anyone could do differently. 

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

(2 Corinthians 1:4)

Such A Painful Day

I just finished a day full of intense pain. In fact, even after hours of soaking in the tub I’m now hurting even more. This painful day has certainly taken me by surprise. It’s also worn me out both physically and emotionally. I would give anything for this purposeful pain to go away. However, for reasons only God knows it’s not meant to cease for now.

I really do believe God is using it all for His glory. Yet, it will never be fun to suffer so much. I keep thinking the worst is behind me. Then this level pain hits me like a hurricane. It leaves me feeling so helpless and vulnerable. It makes me wonder if my joy will ever be restored.

I simply can’t imagine what Jesus felt like hanging on that cross. The misery had to be beyond words. Still he stayed the course for you and me. His pain had a greater purpose and our pain does too. Apart from that purpose no one could endure such suffering.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 11:2-3)

My Plans Feel Ruined

My body has been aching all day. My mind remains in a thick fog. My heart hurts as I feel trapped by my limitations. No matter how hard I try my present health reality keeps slapping me in the face. I want things to go back to normal so bad. I have so much I want to do for God’s glory.

However, for now it’s as if I’m a dog being kept in my own yard by one of those invisible shock fences. Every time I try to escape past my present limitations I’m shocked back to my senses. My entire nervous system is disturbed by my own voice. Surging and vibrating pain runs through my entire lower body. It’s so strong and disrupts my every thought. It’s something you never get used to and remains hard to accept.

Often I think I’m having some bad dream. My entire life is altered as this battle never ends. My medications make it so hard to focus and remember things. My physical discomfort makes it difficult to enjoy anything. As a husband, dad, and pastor I’m so disappointed with how my condition affects others. I’m just having to trust that God still has a plan. That His grace is sufficient and His strength is enough. That despite my plans feeling ruined He still has a plan.

“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)

God’s Will & Mixed Emotions

cropped-343b77a1-fa4c-43a1-aaee-ed4b4b3779486.png

Trying to explain my present feelings towards life would sound rather conflicting. On one hand, I’ve never seen God more at work. On the other hand, I’ve never seen more work that must be done. On one hand, I’m beyond excited to see where God is taking things. On the other hand, I’m already exhausted and the journey has only just begun. I told you I’m full of mixed emotions. 

I know for certain that I’m in a new season. A season of seeing God sized results after years of God seeking labor. So many times along my journey I’ve felt like giving up. Each time God has given me the strength to keep taking the next God led step. I’m afraid and excited as I look towards what God has planned. I don’t want to mess things up or get in God’s way. I’m not wanting to control things, but my human side wants to feel in control. 

Maybe I’m just learning what it really means to trust Jesus with everything. Maybe in the past there were still training wheels on my faith. All I know is that free falling into the arms of Jesus is both rewarding and terrifying. You always find yourself wanting to hit the easy button. Yet, God has not called us to easy. Instead  we’re each called to a mission bigger than us and beyond our ability to accomplish alone. So, while I’ve never felt more overwhelmed I’ve never felt more certain I’m right where God wants me to be. I’ve surrendered all to Jesus. However, just like Jesus headed towards the cross it’s a certain mission filled with many mixed emotions. 

Matthew 26:38-39 – “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.”

The Spirit Of Big Blue

The Band Of Blue

What I’m about to share is not just for those who love the Walterboro Band of Blue. However, it’s something we all can learn from and celebrate. My seventeen year old son has been in the Band of Blue for four years and will graduate this year. It’s something I celebrate, but really hate to see come to an end. Why? Because I believe his participation in this band has been life changing every step of the way. Please allow me the opportunity to explain.

I’m a pastor and a man that believes vision is extremely powerful. Especially when it rallies all ages around a mission that impacts countless lives. The Band of Blue has that kind of vision. The goal every year is excellence and the hope of winning the 4A State Band Championship. Typically, they always end up in the top 10 and with trophies along the way. In fact, their high school band room is full of hardware that represents the accomplishments of many present and past Band of Blue members.

 Now, more important than any trophies has been the culture established. It’s not just a band it’s a family. It’s not just about reaching a goal, but the journey along the way. It’s not just about leading boys and girls, but about preparing men and women for life. I would know because I’ve seen for four years its contribution to my son. It’s taught him vision, hard work, discipline, team work, the value of others, and given him a large extended family for life.

 Today, I had the fortune of being at the Band Of Blue’s day before state pep rally. Every year at this time each senior has the opportunity to share a few words with a few hundred students, parents, and others. As each senior took their turn you could feel their heart pumping. Many times you got to see the tears of appreciation rolling. It wasn’t just some useless cry session. It was the byproduct of many recognizing the blessing of being a part of something much bigger than themselves.

It was the emotions connected to knowing the past four or five years has changed their lives. Also, the sad reality it would soon come to an end. It was the byproduct of a vision that was still alive through the captivating spirit of all who call themselves Big Blue. As band director Tom Finigan appropriately said in closing out their time together. “The spirit of Big Blue is still alive and strong as ever right here in this place.”

 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Psalm 29:18)

Watch Out My Friend

6507B066-EC01-4D06-A698-2E682CE9C84D

How often do we plan stuff and just expect things to all work out? Then, unexpectedly something goes on that we never expected. It might be our car breaking down, a sudden tragedy, an argument with our spouse, or an issue with one of our children. The list is endless of what can happen in a day or moment. The main thing is we often don’t wake up everyday expecting certain adversity or attacks. 

These are the moments Satan can’t wait to wreak havoc in our lives. The moments we are no longer praying for God’s protection, peace, and purpose. The moments we no longer think we have an adversary constantly lurking at our doorstep. An enemy just looking for a window to open. For in these moments we are easy targets for disappointment and disaster. Satan is loving the fact that we forgot we were in a spiritual battle. 

The truth is we often forget our heavy reliance on God for every relationship, task, mission, and success. We literally need God’s protection from the evil one every second of every day. Only in Christ can we overcome the plots and plans of the evil one. We must bathe all things in prayer, keep holding up the shield of faith, and meditate on God’s word day and night. We must remember that with every God sized plan we have an enemy just hoping to ruin those plans. Therefore, we must stay spiritually alert and look to God for the victory. Why? Because our enemy never sleeps and is hoping we fall spiritually asleep. 

“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)

Sometimes You Need To Punt

1CB71FCB-7288-4840-A006-B049D7997FE5

You may or not be someone who understands football. Just in case let me explain myself. Anytime the offensive team has the ball they have a total of four tries to move the ball ten yards. On fourth down they can either go for the first down or punt the ball away. Many times it’s best they punt the ball away because even one yard can feel like a mile to go.

In my head, I’m just one yard away from feeling much better. However, my body’s response to my recent efforts speaks differently. My nervous system feels just as raw as ever within me. I feel miserable 90 percent of the time. I’ve adjusted my stimulator, taken all my meds and continue to pray. One thing is certain that it’s best I just punt my present life strategy away.

By that I mean, I’ve got to scratch my present game plan. I’m just not ready to take on anymore physically or emotionally.  Every time I try to go back to how I used to be able to do things I just end up feeling shattered. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and swallow the truth. Its only insanity when you keep doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. I will not give up hope, but I will choose to punt away my present approach to life. I will live to try another day. 

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.”

(1 Corinthians 10:23)

When The Hurt Won’t Stop

If I was a dying man I would request as much morphine as possible. My skin has just been crawling nonstop the past few days. You would think I missed taking one of my pain meds. I know the cooler weather simply isn’t helping. And, if I had to guess my spinal cord stimulator certainly needs some adjusting.

Regardless of what has my nerves so uneasy it never feels good. It seriously makes you want to go crazy. Regardless of how positive you may feel the pain just makes everything feel unpleasant. I’ve come so far in so many ways. I’m so thankful for all the good days and moments of relief. However, thinking I may be in this condition the rest of my life is still way too much for me to swallow.

I’ve certainly not been getting the hours of healing sleep my body needs. Less sleep means longer days in discomfort. I’m not sure how in the world this post can encourage you. I guess you can be encouraged that no matter what you’re going through God will give you enough strength to handle it. It may at times feel like you could go crazy any moment. But, Jesus will somehow anchor your soul through it all. I can testify He has kept me off the ledge of insanity for over three years.

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (Hebrews 6:19)

I Feel Out Of Sync

0F019410-83C5-4F8C-BAD9-399352BDCAA3

don’t mind at all having a break from the scorching heat. However, it’s obvious this colder weather is doing my body no favors. Every joint and piece of metal within me appears to be screaming for help. The only relief I find in these moments are heating pads and hot baths. I truly need to invest in some kind of always heated body suit. 

In conjunction with not feeling comfortable in my own skin I’m just out of sync period. I’m someone used to living in rhythm to whatever music God is playing around me. Not that things are ever perfect, but it’s like I’m marching out of step. My prayers and thoughts feel forced rather than free flowing. These are usually indicators of trying and thinking too much. 

How easy is it for our human minds to complicate matters? God tells us to approach Him with simple childlike faith. The older we get the more we fall prey to thinking we’re His equal. So, I’m just trying to settle down and let God hold me. History has taught me that sometimes there is nothing for me to figure out. Instead, I just need to be still and know my Heavenly Father has it all figured out. 

“Be still and know that I am God.”

(Psalm 46:10)

Why I Fight For Hospice

Recently, someone told me that I really needed to separate my real ministry from hospice care. I quickly told that person, “that’s impossible because hospice is ministry at it’s highest level.” If you want to start a fight you’ll never win, just tell me that hospice is just a business. I will fly out my seat and tell you countless stories of how hospice has changed many lives.

Please, let me just say this out of the gate. “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) None of us choose these times, but these times have already been appointed by an Almighty God. Here is why you need hospice when it’s your time:

1. Dying is never easy.

Most don’t even like to talk about it, but the reality is we’re all going to die one day. Statistics say that most of us will not die from some sudden tragedy, but most will die of a terminal illness discoverd by doctors. When that time comes, you need all the support you can get from family, friends and those who specialize in helping folks make the most of their last days. With hospice you are provided spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and even financial support. For those of us who really feel called by God to your bedside we can help make the otherwise unbearable, the best possible. Patients and families especially need all the support they can get during these difficult days.

2. No One Should Suffer.

I’ve been by the bedside of hundreds of dying men and women. There are peaceful deaths and then there are those who suffer greatly all the way to the end. Yes, I’m passionate about the fact that no one should suffer unnecessarily. Hospice was designed to bring patients as much comfort as possible. Hospitals aren’t designed for this, nursing homes aren’t designed for this and your primary physican doesn’t have time for this. Hospice done right will ensure that any patient is kept comfortable twenty-four seven. Once you’ve seen someone suffer it’s not a sight you care to see again. Hospice works very hard to ensure that your loved one has the maximum comfort possible. This is why hospice services are available to be provided in homes, hospitals and inside any skilled nursing facility such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

3. You Only Die Once.

You may brush this one off, but I take dying very seriously. Those last days with your loved ones are very precious. Who wouldn’t want to make the most of what time they have left? Hospice focuses on quality because none of us can control the quantity of our days. Called hospice workers can help make those last days be some of the best days. Death is one of the most life impacting things we deal with in this life. Peace awaits those who feel their last days with their loved one went well. Years of regret await those who feel death snuck up on them and the moments they had left were not seized.

I could give you countless more reasons of why you need to be pro-hospice. I had a lady one time say, “Pastor, I just don’t like that word hospice because it means I’m going to die.” I told her, “Mam, with or without hospice you are going to die one day. We’re just here to make that process a lot easier.” And, if I had my way we would change the name to “Help Us”. Why? Because that is why hospice exists. To help patients and families get the best end of life care possible.

So, when man has done all he can and death comes knocking at your door, call hospice. We not only feel called to be by your bedside, but we can help make that bedside experience a peaceful experience for everyone involved. May God bless you and your family.

*Written in 2013

 

Inside The Mind Of A Pastor

We live in a day and time that each of us can be easily misunderstood. In fact, I find myself feeling that way as a pastor. Sadly, only the negative stuff makes the news headlines. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor or the president. People believe what they hear and only know what they see. I thought I might give you a front seat view into the mind of the average pastor. Of course, I can only speak for myself and the many pastors I actually know well.

One, most of us feel called to pastor. Meaning it’s not just some job we thought we might be good at doing. We genuinely feel it’s a God given responsibility. While most people feel they can choose any job we feel our job has been chosen for us. To do anything besides pastoring would make us feel like a fish out of water.

Two, most of us never feel like our work is done. In today’s complicated world so many are going through so much. There are clearly not enough hours in each day to help everyone. You really have to choose wisely how you spend your time. Because one thing is for sure: there will always be one more person who could use encouragement.

Three, most of us are very aware of our human imperfections. Just because we’re preaching things to you doesn’t mean we aren’t working through things ourselves. Apart from God’s grace we know we couldn’t stand in front of you. We’re not trying to be God we’re just seeking to be His messenger. There are many times that a pastor feels inadequate and overwhelmed. It’s in those times we must remember God’s grace and God’s call.

Four, most of us struggle to stay focused on our own families. Trust me, I know this one very well. Through the years I’ve had to learn how to be stern in protecting time for my marriage and family. It’s hard when you always hear the cries of many desperate people begging for divine intervention. Its only the pastors who invest in their family that later have the support needed to keep investing in other families.

Lastly, most of us really do try to live with great integrity. Meaning the bar we set for ourselves is really high. We believe God wants us to live by example the message we proclaim. This doesn’t mean we don’t stumble and miss the mark daily. However, most of us don’t take lightly the platform God has given us. It hurts us deeply to feel we’ve misrepresented Christ in anyway. Most of us want nothing less than God’s will to be done in our lives and in His church.

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

Let’s Get Real

Well, I survived a longer day than I’ve experienced in a couple years. It’s not that I did a whole lot physically. But, even on Sundays I’m only active for maybe four hours tops. A few hours ago my Fitbit buzzed and said congrats you’ve been active for 7 out 7 hours which has never happened the past two years. Those things only register you active if you’re doing anything outside of your normal activity for more than ten minutes per hour. Go ahead and list me as just pure exhausted. I’ll be spending the rest of my evening in a tub of hot water soaking the pain away.

The good news is I survived and I was able to show my son support. They won 5th place in the lower state championship and will participate in the overall state championship next week. In division 4A they beat out every band from Charleston or Dorchester County. So, I guess you can call Colleton County the 4A Low Country Band Champions. No matter what we’re proud of all their hard work.

Now, my wife having to put up with me all day is a whole other story. I’m sure she wished several times that she could take me back to some assisted living home or shove me out a moving car. I’m not only a terrible passenger driver, but I’m a terrible patient when I don’t feel good. I can promise you the good Lord will give her a much bigger mansion in Heaven for staying by my side. As always I appreciate all the love, support and prayers. And, for the person reading this that lives with chronic pain please know I’m praying for you.

“…Prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:18)(The Message)

I’m Going Anyway Because

BA685113-287E-4358-91AB-EF1470543984After waking up early from a very painful nights sleep I was very disappointed that I couldn’t go with my wife to my son’s band competition. God has now given me permission and a second wind. You see, I know in my heart that I’ve preached to others in much worse shape than I am today. Even when I didn’t feel I could walk another step or keep my eyes open. I’ve missed very few Sundays preaching back to back messages over my past three year health battle.
So, I’m going to this Lower State Band Competition. Why? Because my family is supposed to be my first ministry. Why? Because I would rather my son say I’m a good father over being told I’m just a good preacher. Why? Because this is my last chance to do this with him since he is a senior and I’ve not been to one competition so far this year. Why? Because family matters most according to God’s word.
Listen whether you’re a preach or the president a man is called to love and lead his family. Outside of our example, I believe just being present in our kid’s lives is very important. I’ve been to most things throughout the years. But, my health has stolen many precious moments the past few years. However, the devil won’t be stealing today’s opportunity to see my son march and for him to know he is worth the extra effort. Here is some of what the Bible says an overseer of God’s church must make priority. So, with God’s blessing I’m out of here.
“ He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

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