Dreading Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

Pressed, Perplexed, Knocked Down

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

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

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

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

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

Here We Go Again

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

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

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

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

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

Long Week, Still Hopeful

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

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 3:13-14)

Come Closer Son

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

The Longest Piggy Back Ride Ever

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

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

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

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

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

I Didn’t See This Coming

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

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

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

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

I Feel Like Such A Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Will Restore Things

 

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

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

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

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

The Intensity Continues

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

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

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

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

 

My Bold Audacious Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Giving Up On Myself

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

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

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

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

Why Am I So Surprised?

 

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

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

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

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

3 Things Every Leader Must Know

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

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

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

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

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

Only God Calms The Insanity

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

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

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

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

Still Holding My Hand

holding-my-hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working Not Wallowing

B83058A9-93D3-4683-A227-B751AF2A9587I started a 7 day challenge 3 days ago. A challenge to attempt not to wallow in my pain as I continue to work through it. Yes, it’s still staring me in my face day and night. Yes, it’s still very difficult to get around. Yes, I feel miserable often and wish it would all just go away.
However, I truly believe it’s just not God’s timing yet. God is still humbling, growing, and refining me through this challenging season. I’m learning how to lean on Him completely instead of myself. I’m learning to trust Him instead of my circumstances. My faith is being stretched like never before as I’m choosing to free fall into the arms of Jesus.
I’m at that point that if it’s all going to work out it will be because God alone performed a miracle. The enemy is still attacking me from every angle possible. I’m being tested physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It’s all driving me further to my knees. All my man made props have been knocked down. It’s obvious that I’m completely dependent upon God’s grace and goodness to get through this valley. Even still I’m fully trusting God to show up and show out in my life. To do a Mighty work for our good and His glory.
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”
(1 Peter 5:6)

Yes You Can My Child

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

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

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

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

My 7 Day Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Death An Accident or Appointment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hebrews 9:27)

Dealing With A Rare Crisis

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

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

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

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

(Proverbs 3:5-6)(AMP)

How Long, O Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 13:1-6)

Still A Thorn In My Side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thank God For New Mornings

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

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

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

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

Chapter 12: A Prophetic Word

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

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

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

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

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

(Job 42:12)

My Desperate Prayer

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

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

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

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

Real & Raw Take 1,000,000

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

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

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

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

My Heartache, God’s Mission

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

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

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

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

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

Praying Big & Expecting Big Results

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

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

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

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

Piece By Piece

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

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

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

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

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

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” 

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

Are We There Yet?

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

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

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

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

The Days Are Long, BUT

Jesus carrying the cross.

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

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

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

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

Dads Matter Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Better Than It Was

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

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

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

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

“This is the day the Lord has made;

We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118:24)

I’m Dreading Father’s Day

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

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

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

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

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

I’m At Such A Low

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Battling Demons?

FFC989DB-F60B-4FD6-A98A-ACD4050AC0F6Where do I begin with this one? I’ve grown up knowing about God’s love, grace, and truth. Of course, it can take years to grow in fuller understanding and application of such truth. I know enough about God’s word to be dangerous. However, not matter how much we know or grow we will never arrive as perfect saints this side of Heaven.
After 33 years as a Christ follower and 25 years as a minister of the gospel I find myself in the greatest battle of my life. Many know I’ve been physically down for the past 33 months. I’m not gonna lie that my health has not been trending the direction I would prefer. It’s getting harder and harder to fight with this body day and night. Most of the time I just feel flat miserable. My hardest step each day is just to get out of the bed.
Now, one might be tempted to say “Well we all deal with something.” And I would respond by saying “I absolutely agree.” But, it’s important we each see the source of our fight. I know firsthand that the devil is out to destroy me. He is hoping to knock every ounce of strength, life, and hope out of me. He knows I’m determined to let Christ make a huge difference through me. The closer I get to my breakthrough he pounces on me like I’m his most hated enemy.
All I can do is stand firm in the faith. Renew my mind with God’s words of life while satan continually feeds me words of doubt. I’m a fighter, but I have to recognize this fight is so much bigger than me. There is a host of demons coming at me from every direction. There is only one name that makes them all stop dead in their tracks. That mighty name is JESUS. The only way I make it through each fierce battle is to face it head on in the name of Jesus.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)
 
Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)

Life With Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

My Breaker Box Flipped Again

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

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

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

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

Could Have Been Shot & Killed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Newest Cane

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

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Heavenly Father, Hear My Prayer

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

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

My Heart Breaks In Two Daily

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

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

DESPERATE For Relief

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

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

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

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

Under Construction

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

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

(Romans 5:3-5)(Amplified)

Still Fighting For Me

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

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

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

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

(Exodus 14:14)

What Hurts The Most

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 43:18)

Lord, I Can’t Live Like This

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 4:13)

Are You Mentally Overwhelmed?

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

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

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

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Difficult To Swallow

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

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

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

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

Beyond Just Pain

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

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

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

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

You Would Do Anything

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

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

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

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

(Mark 9:29)

Weak Body, Willing Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Very Very Tough Day Ahead

Jesus carrying the cross.

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 1:6)

Toughest Time Of My Life

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

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

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

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

 

You’ve Been So Faithful

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 86:15)

Desperate For Refuge

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 46:1-3)

I Need You To Pick Me Up

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

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

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

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

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

Not Feeling Well

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 4:13)

Sick And Lonely

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

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

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

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

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

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Skin Breakouts

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

My email is SCraigCrosby@gmail.com

 

Finally Some Major Sleep

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

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

Stuck In A Rut

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

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

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

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

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

That Old Familiar Feeling

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 6:2)

Health Update 5/31/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 1:6)

Rejoice Even In The Pain

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

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 4:4-8)(Amplified)

Growing Old Ain’t For Sissies

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Free Falling

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

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

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

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

I May Have CRPS/RSD

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

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

My Hands Keep Breaking Out

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

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

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

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

 

(Isaiah 41:13)

I Really Feel God At Work

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

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

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

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

Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.”…. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

(John 16:13-14,33)

You Must Remember

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Freedom, Still In Pain

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Self

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

Dear Self,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Myself 

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

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

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

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

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

(1 Peter 1:6)

I Can’t Do What I Once Did

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

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

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

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

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

(Galatians 6:9)

No Matter What I’m All In

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

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

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

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

Officially Call Me Psycho

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

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

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

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

Another Stimulator Change

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

PLEASE HELP ME

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

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

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

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

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

(Matthew 9:35-38)

Stimulator Adjustments

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

I Rediscovered Something

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

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

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

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

 

“But, Look What God Is Doing”

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

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

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

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

(John 9:1-5)

I Understand A Lot Better Now

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

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

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

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

Will Life Ever Be The Same?

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

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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Frozen By Design

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

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

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

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

 

 

I’m Such A Weak Man

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

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

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

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

Late Night Freakout

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 4:6-7)

The Pain Runs So Deep

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

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

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

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

God Did It Again

 

Over My Head

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 18:16)

My Fight Is Gone

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

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

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

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

Unedited Prayer

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

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

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

I’m Struggling To Pray

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

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

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

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

(Romans 8:26)

I Hate/Like My Stimulator

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

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

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

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

How Much Longer Lord?

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Jesus Fell Asleep On Me

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

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

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

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

No Longer Me

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

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

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

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

One Step Away

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

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

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

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

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

(Psalm 46:1)

Another Eventful Day

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

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

Relentless Pain

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It’s 11:30pm Saturday and it’s just another night on pain island. I made sure I took all my sleepy time and breakthrough pain medications over 2 1/2 hours ago. Still , the pain in my lower back has not been phased nor can it be ignored. When will it stop always comes to my mind.

I just finished putting ice on things just hoping to cool down the pain. I’m still aching constantly and my legs are throbbing. I’ve been keeping my stimulator at a very low setting so my legs won’t vibrate so much. Yet, when I turn it down lower to stop the vibration the pain in my lower back becomes unbearable. There doesn’t appear to be any middle ground to be found.

Th only common denominator with everything right now is pain. My normal meds just don’t work as well for me anymore. I hate to say it but I always looked so forward to feeling knocked out at night. Now that knockout time is very unpredictable and I’m forced to feel the reality of my pain even more.

“At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly.”
(Job 30:1)

Bed, Bath & Beyond

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The week has been tough and the days have been long. Today, I’ve spent most of my time in the bed and the rest of my day in the tub. The bad news is my discomfort is steady. The great news is I’ve shed no tears all day. Knock on wood, the dam of insane nerve pain appears closed at the moment.
Yes, there is a lot pertaining to my health that is totally unpredictable. However, there is no denying that anything stressful can hike things in a matter of seconds. Time has also shown that if I am to ever improve anymore it will be through daily walking and rest. It’s been so long since I’ve had any sustained recovery momentum. Every surgery and procedure has stop my momentum totally on several occasions.
With that said I’ve still not given up hope. I just need need to take things day by day, step by step. I must remove any unnecessary hindrances from my life. My body is still healing from this recent battery that was implanted 3 months ago. According to my surgeon due to it’s size and placement it could take up to six months to fully settle into my body. Not to mention that nerves grow back and heal at a snails pace. I’m constantly praying that my body continues to heal and that my mind stays focused. I know that begins and continues by keeping my eyes on Jesus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
(Hebrews 12:1-3)

A Fairytale Wedding

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Millions watched live one of the most beautiful royal weddings ever celebrated. Britain’s Prince Harry and his now lovely bride Meghan Markle have now been united in Holy Matrimony. Their wedding was nothing short of a fairytale scene usually only written about. Even after the wedding the couple was taken on a 2.6 mile carriage ride as they waved to thousands smiling and every direction. I wish these newly weds nothing but the best.

This beautiful ceremony reminded me of something that every married couple must know. While there may be fairytale weddings there are no such things as fairytale marriages. Every marriage whether considered royalty or not will be tested by fire. Why? Because the joining of two imperfect people living in an imperfect world is just not an easy journey. The wedding is an event, but marriage requires daily commitment.

A great marriage demands that two people continue choosing to love each other for better or worse. There will be days that you don’t “feel” in love. That’s because love is more than a feeling, but a choice you make. So many the moment the beauty fades or the feelings change so does their marriage. You must know that a happy and lasting marriage demands that you both continue walking by faith. That you remember everyday the vows you made to each other and before God. Only continued faith and love will breath a certain hope in any marriage.

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.
(Matthew 19:4-8)

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!                                               (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Thank You Jesus For 421

B71782C0-AF31-406B-AB86-1BE0605ED8F7The best way to ever wake up is saying and meaning the words “Thank You Jesus.” I went to bed in great pain and discomfort. I’m so grateful for every second of the 4 hours and 21 minutes God just allowed me to sleep. My body was very exhausted so it wasn’t the most sound medicated sleep. Nonetheless, it was sleep as I’m only awake due to moderate pain and to take my 6am meds.

Fortunately, I’m not waking up with a frown on my face. Sometimes God has to allow us to experience the worse days so we can learn to be grateful for the better days. That’s exactly where I am right now. Overjoyed that God would allow me another breath, some relief, and some sleep. Not to mention I woke up beside one of the most beautiful, unofficial nurses on the planet. My wife is always by my side for better or worse. 

I’m reflecting on what I’ve been through and continue to face. I can see how much God has blessed me through these trials. God has increased my gratitude for the little things. God has developed my endurance in the midst of things. God has given me contentment no matter what life brings. God has strengthened my compassion and understanding towards others who are going through painful things. God has actually broadened my opportunity to testify to His ever present love, goodness, strength, and glory!

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

(Revelation 4:11)

Desperate For Compassion

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This afternoon I had another very big appointment. One that I knew was going to be even tougher due to a night of constant pain and very little sleep. I walked in with my legs extremely heavy, lower back aching, and my nerves nearly shot. During the 1 1/2 hour drive there I just prayed that God would keep holding me together and get me through what I knew would be an intense physical evaluation ahead.

When I checked in around 2:30pm I asked the lady at the front how long I should expect to be there. She said, “tell your parents waiting that you need to allow at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours for this evaluation.” All I could do was take a very deep breath knowing how that the next few hours would test my every nerve and strength. After all, it’s been over 6 months since I’ve last done any physical therapy exercises. I knew from our preliminary conversation that my body was about to be awaken for sure.

I tried to worn the physical therapist in advance that my issues were so much deeper than just physical pain. He assured me he would take things easy and that I needed to listen to my body every step of the way. Before we even got started my blood pressure was 150/110. So we had to delay things until that number drastically decreased.

Finally we were ready to begin each grueling physical test. My first big challenge was trying to even lay down flat as requested. Pressing flat against my bulging stimulator battery and my tender lower back made me very nauseous out the gate. Just a few exercises into things my heightening nerve pain was making my hands intensely itch and producing red splotches on both arms. I knew within me a big storm was raging.

Soon, I took a quick trip to the restroom. The first thing I did while inside was text my mom asking her to please pray for me. When I returned back it was time to hit the treadmill, stairs, and do some other various exercises. Suddenly, I could feel my nerve pain rising into my chest and I knew a breakdown eventually would follow. Fortunately, I had one 5mg Valium in the car just in case my system crashed.

After gaining permission to take the Valium I returned back inside for more exercise. Honestly, I can’t tell you what else we even did after I returned. I just knew that beyond my body’s pain I was having another one of my neurological meltdowns. Next thing I know I’m balling my eyes out in front of people I never even knew 2 hours before. My very kind therapist acted like an angel from above. He took me in his office and put his hand on me for support. Then, he said “Mr. Crosby I believe we’ve seen enough. I don’t think it’s best we do any further exercises. I will be praying that you feel better soon.”

I just sat there and wept knowing I needed that cry and I needed those words of comfort not anymore condemnation of myself. While this man may not have fully understood my pain he showed genuine compassion towards me. And, in my time of great need I will never forget his Christlike kindness.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(Colossians 3:12)

Mixed Emotions

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What I’m about to share is not for some pity party. Nor, is about saying my problems are greater than your problems. Honestly, my one and only greatest problem is the state of my health. However, that one problem affects every area of my life. In fact, it affects every person I hold dear in my life. Here are just three emotions that I’m feeling daily.
First of all, I’m very discouraged. I’ve given everything I have towards my recovery. Even still two and a half years later I’m facing the same old battles. I’ve cried, I’ve prayed, and I’ve tried to wait on my healing. Reality just keeps hitting me in the mind and heart. It’s getting harder and harder to bounce back and keep going.
Secondly, I’m very overwhelmed. Anyone battling great health issues can testify that life keeps going anyway. There is no task, responsibility or even deep conversation that is not overwhelming to me right now. My energy is drained from this continuous fight. I deal with this morning, day, and night. By itself alone my health struggle drains me physically, emotionally, and emotionally.
Last but not least, I am encouraged. I’m encouraged that God is using my battle to help others through their battle. I’m encouraged that God is using my weakness to rebuild my perspective and increase my enduring faith. I’m encouraged that God is not taken by surprise by any of this and still has a plan. I’m encouraged that as long as God exist so does the opportunity for my miracle. I’m encouraged that through it all I still have family and friends praying for me. I’ve learned that you can have great heartache and still have great hope.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

The Dam May Be Breaking Again

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According to my Fitbit I’ve slept almost 2 1/2 hours. I’m now sitting up in my bed just trying to catch my breath. Every night my dreams keep getting more and more intense. As if I need anymore intensity running throughout my nerve stricken body. 

I’ve now had my stimulator turned down for several hours in hopes of stopping the nerve surges that keep running through my legs and feet. I’m afraid it’s not changing a thing. My nerve pain seems to have risen once again just as it has in the past. This is how I’ve felt prior to each time the doctor had to up my nerve pain medication.

The problem is I don’t have much more I can increase. And last time I tried increasing to the maximum dosage I dealt with an intense itching reaction. I already take 4 times the amount of nerve pain meds I was taking prior to my first of three surgeries 2 years ago. If my  body were to endure one more small increase in my medication I would have reached my relief ceiling. It seems every 4-6 months the dam breaks and my pain once again is not able to be contained. Where this is headed only God knows, but I would be lying if I didn’t say it frightens me to even ponder the possibilities. 

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 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. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”                              (Isaiah 43:1-3)(NLT)

Another Big Appointment

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Later today my mom will be taking me to Columbia for a full physical evaluation. I have no idea what exercises or tests might be in front of me. All I know is the wrong movements will stir up my nerves even worst and hurt very badly. I’m praying I can get some good sleep so I will be up to doing whatever I’m asked to do. 

This entire journey has been full of twists, turns, accomplishments, and a lot let downs. I’ve felt like a lab rat most of the way. It’s like I’m part of some experiment. So far from the evaluations we’ve learned 100 ways  to keep hurting longer. Seriously, it seems often that nothing has been done with a clear plan in mind. 

Anyway, it seems that we’re reaching the end of what all my present doctors feel can be done for me. After surgery, therapy, Rhizotomy, shots, and the spinal stimulator they feel all they can do is hope to keep mt pain under control. It’s still not what I want to hear, but my body tells me they are speaking much truth. No matter what I’m gonna keep pressing and praying forward.

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

Dear Troubled Pastor

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I’m writing this to you because I know you have few that will. I’m well aware of how difficult it is being a pastor in this day and age. I’m well aware that at least 1500 ministers leave the ministry per month not because they are retirement age, but they are burnout and bummed out. I’m also well aware that most pastors don’t have a pastor for themselves. So, if you don’t mind I would like to stand in the gap for you. Here are a few things I feel led to say.

First of all, don’t put your work before your walk. Each of us know our own humanity. We need to walk with God just as much as anyone else does. In fact, we need an above average closeness with God so that He can be our strength. Otherwise, we can’t expect much to flow through us if much is not being allowed to poured into us. For sure, pay more attention to your creator than your critics.

Secondly, you will never please everybody. Jesus didn’t and neither is it in our job description. You can either aim to please God or man. You definitely can’t choose both if you ever want to live focused. Everybody is a great coach from the bleachers, but most don’t understand what it’s like to be the head coach. So, live to please the one that has called you not the ones who think they hired you.

Thirdly, remember your first ministry at all times. Your marriage should not take a backseat to anyone. You may be at your church for a season, but you’re called to be married for a lifetime. Behind any healthy pastor is a healthy marriage. And, if that marriage isn’t healthy enough ministry will reveal it with time. You don’t have to apologize to anyone for taking time for your wife or children. If all else fails don’t let your family be at the top of the chopping block.

Fourthly, I know you always feel under demand. Only by my health failing me did I realize how unhealthy I always did ministry for nearly 25 years. Literally I let the demand dictate every piece of my life and joy. Listen, the demand of one more bleeding soul will always be there. You’ve got to say 9 no’s for every 1 yes. You’ve got to keep balance in life or ministry will turn your entire life upside down. Burnout is a real thing and if you don’t take the necessary breaks you will become it’s next victim.

Last but not least, I know you’re just another man. You have your own struggles, griefs, addictions, and even deal with seasons of depression. Don’t present yourself as some perfect saint. In fact, seize every moment possible to be real with others who sincerely care about your wellbeing. Whether that be a friend, family member, another pastor, a licensed counselor, and especially your congregation. You have to take care of yourself or you won’t be available to care for others long. Whatever you might be going through don’t be too prideful to ask for help or just a little encouragement.

Sincerely,
A Concerned/Imperfect Pastor

A Prisoner In My Own Body

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Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! Back in the tub I go! I know it doesn’t sound so bad unless you’ve been enduring this for 32 months straight. The intensity of my nerves raging throughout my body has only increased the past few days. In fact, the throbbing in my tailbone has even returned to some degree. I literally feel like I’m being held hostage in my own body. I would give anything for my skin to quit crawling all over. It’s one thing to endure something for an hour or a few hours or even a few days. But, I’ve felt miserable for a long, long time.

It’s not a matter of me not having patience at this point. I just can’t tolerate the misery much longer. I’ve already put most of my life on hold. I’ve already made every adjustment I can make. It wouldn’t matter whether I was on a cruise ship or battleship. If this body is going with me there will be little joy to experience.

I’ve quit pondering when will it end. My prayer is simply hoping that it will end this side of Heaven. No, I’m not suicidal. However, I will admit I can’t fathom living the rest of my life this way. If I do conclude that nothing will change I will have to make some major changes. That change starting with my pain management. I’ve learned you can only endure this kind of misery so long. It wears you down, steals your joy, and can make you flat go crazy.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m actually belittling my discomfort. As I’ve said before let me give the average person one week in my body and you will rush yourself to the hospital. I could have already gone a couple hundred times if I thought it would be anything more than a momentary bandaid. Only God deserves the credit for my strength, sanity, endurance, and maintaining of my faith. Apart from Him I would have long ago given up on everything. Thank you Jesus for holding me together as my world long ago fell apart.

“Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Colossians 1:17)

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

Walking Through A Clouded Valley

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My body has literally been vibrating all day with nerve pain. My vision and mind have been constantly clouded. The sound of my own voice makes my own body hurt more. I’ve tried to adjust my spinal cord stimulator but nothing has made any difference. It’s as if I’m plugged into an electrical outlet and simply can’t unplug myself.
As I’ve tried to explain to others I can’t even understand what is happening inside my own body. All I know is it’s not my imagination. Every minute brings discomfort and every moment is unsettling. I wish it was a dream I could just wake up from. Instead it’s a nightmare that I keep waking up to.
I’ve been home and in my bed all day. It takes everything I have to even prepare to preach on Sundays. It’s as if I’m having to do so tied down and surrounded by a million voices. God only knows my full struggle. Even still I’m doing all I can with what I have to offer. In fact, I’m in the midst of preparing a message that I know will transform countless lives. So, I will continue to walk through this clouded valley since it’s not within my power to remove it.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4

Marriage Is A Dog Fight

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If you’ve been married for any length of time it’s never a question of if you fight, but when you fight. For the couples who have never gotten in any real argument enjoy your honeymoon as things will change with time. Since marriage is the most intimate relationship on the planet it’s easy to get on each other’s nerves. Yes, the Bible says the two will become one flesh, but it never says this is an easy overnight process. 

What if I told you my wife and I fight all the time? No, it’s not like pro-wrestling or a heavyweight boxing match. There is a constant fight to stay on the same page, work through our differences, and keep fighting for our marriage. In so many ways my wife and I are total opposites in personality and interests. We have different ways we perceive things and different ways we demonstrate our love. The main common ground is our mutual love, faith and devotion. 

I’ve been blessed with nearly 21 years of marriage. Over those years we’ve had many fights. Honestly, the majority of them I’ve started. By the grace of God we’ve worked through all of them. This is done by dealing with things daily. Communicating our frustrations and  recognizing our misunderstandings. And most of all really learning how to love each other in an unconditional, understanding way. In your marriage don’t be afraid of the fight. Instead, make sure you keep fighting to keep together what the devil will continually try to pull apart. 

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

(Mark 10:6-9)

Laughter Is Medicine For The Soul

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I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. By 6:30am my nerve pain was raging throughout my body and I hadn’t even gotten out the bed. Quickly it reached a point when I knew mixed with my other morning meds I needed to take a Valium to keep it from reaching the totally unbearable. This allowed me the ability to sleep several more hours. 

By midday, I attempted once to walk out the door like a normal human being. I grabbed a bite to eat with someone and then picked up two of my kids from school. This was only my 3rd attempt over the past year for me to even drive through those school lines. By the time I got back home I was absolute toast. So, I laid down on some ice and considered what I should do next.

I concluded that physically and mentally I needed to get back to the YMCA for some pool therapy. After traveling 35 miles to get there I discovered the indoor pool was closed due to lightning that had been spotted in the area. This was the final straw for me. I desperately needed that swim physically and certainly mentally. All I could do was shake my head as I felt my nerve pain reaching the drowning level. I had no choice but to take another 5mg Valium and just take deep breaths. While I would have loves to have felt normal today it was just another reality check to confirm I’m far from it. 

Thank God my 8 year was able to bring a smile to my face and some laughter to my soul. It may sound like nothing to you, but here was a conversation we had that just caused me to chuckle and lightened up my spirit a little. He knew I wasn’t feeling good so maybe he planned this whole thing.

Me: So Asher what did you do special today at school?

Asher: I had library and I gave them back my under pants and Magic school bus.

Me: Son you did not ride a Magic school bus and you should never give anyone your underpants.

Asher: No daddy! I gave them the book “Magic School Bus” and “Captain Under Pants.”

Blame it on my meds but the original misunderstanding made my day, made me laugh and was medicine for my soul.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

(Proverbs 17:22)

A Breaker Must Be Tripped

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I’ve not even gotten out of bed yet and my nerve pain is already on the edge of insane. It has nothing to do with anything on my mind. It has nothing to do with anything I have done. I’ve only slept a little over four hours and my body simply can’t function on that little of rest. I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep because of my nerve sensitivity.

It’s obvious that a lot of fuses are blown inside my nervous system. Even while I’m resting it picks up even the slightest sound or motion waves. Just a door closing lightly, someone walking by quietly or someone calling my name startles my entire body. Something like electricity runs through both feet, legs, and all the way up into my chest within seconds. The current is so strong and so sensitive. My legs continue to vibrate.

I finally had to take a Valium just in hopes of settling this mighty force. This by far is my greatest kryptonite at the present time. It zaps all my strength and power in one clip. It has a hold on my body in a way I can’t fully explain. I’m writing these words while laying on my side just to process this hard to believe reality. I don’t understand what’s happening even though it’s happen countless times. But, I know God does understand how He plans to use this bizarre weakness. He will take car of and he will relieve of this trial when the time is right.

“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)

Scared Of The Future

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    I believe most of us today have a fear of many things. We especially worry about what the future might hold. When it comes to our family, finances, and health just to name a few. So much going on around us on the outside triggers our deepest concerns on the inside. It is very easy when we think too much to get overwhelmed with great fear of what tomorrow might bring.
    Now, satan loves stealing our joy in these times. He preys on our weakest human emotions and everyday concerns. He loves to get us consumed with worrying about the future so we can’t focus on the present. He makes sure our minds are fed nonstop troubling news and trigger moments. His goal is to break us down and make us feel as hopeless as possible about the future. He certainly hopes to keep us away from Jesus the truest source of all peace and hope.
    Jesus came to give us peace even in the midst our circumstances. Jesus came to give us hope beyond our circumstances. Since time began man has shown a natural draw towards worrying. The older we get the more we see and know about this fallen world. With each piece of perception our hearts get heavy and our worries get greater. Jesus addressed such concerns often and tells us the key to not worrying.
     “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
    “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
    So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
(Matthew 6:25-34)

Forced To Regroup

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When life throws you a curve ball you’re often forced to regroup. Especially if what happens takes you by total surprise. It’s amazing how just one life event can force so much change. In just a moment everything you once knew as normal can be flipped upside down. Then, it takes quite some time to digest and discover your new normal.
For sometime now I’ve known that change has been forced upon me. Its been a day by day process of trying to accept my new normal. So much has changed in my body that has led to so much change in my life. I’ve fought this reality in every way possible for some time. However, I think I’m now doing my best to regroup.
My present life is now being built around my health day and night. I’ve learned that most by being burned by too many careless decisions. While I may not like my current situation I must accept it for now, regroup and learn how to live forward. I can’t continue to let it just frustrate me and steal all my joy. I’ve got to trust that God still has an amazing plan even when things don’t go as I had planned.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

Back To Where I Started

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Last night I went to bed with as deep of pain as ever. My nervous system was shot. My body hurt any direction I tried to turned. I took all the medication doctors had prescribed. I went to bed with a heating pad on my back and my wife holding my hand. I chose not to write anything at that time as I knew I just needed to pray for sleep to come soon.

My night was filled with tumultuous sleep. The combination of my nerves and meds don’t produce the most quality rest. However, I will take sleep any way I can get it. It certainly beats the alternative of laboring continuously in pain and wishing every second someone would knock you out.

Now, believe it or not this article is not just about my pain. It’s about the journey that God calls us all to every single day. When I woke up today to take my morning meds God really spoke to my heart. He said, “Come to me.” This is something He has spoken to me many times. He often has to wear me totally down to get the message to sink in. Well, once again I’m worn out from trying to get through things my way.

This morning before I ever started writing this for you I let God speak to me. I pulled out my Bible, a devotional guide, a highlighter, and a pen in case God told me something I needed to write down. I knew I desperately needed to return right back to where I started. I needed to seek His presence, His peace, and His comforting word. I needed to keep putting fully in God’s hands what obviously can’t be controlled in man’s hands. I needed to get back to walking with God not just talking about Him.

“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)

Lord Grant Me Favor

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Today was a very intense day for me. I had a very important meeting with one of my doctors and some others. Discussed was my past, present, and potential future medical care. I felt like I was hearing about a very sad journey that has still not found a very happy ending. Anytime you hear a doctor say “we’ve done all we can do” it’s usually not a positive thing.

If there was anything positive it was the fact that I’ve not become addicted to any narcotics after 32 months of this suffering. I’ve made a 100 if you will on every random drug test. I’ve always done what I could to better my health. I’ve always followed every doctor’s order given to me. And, I’m still far from giving up hope.

The negative thing is none of it has changed my situation. Every attempt to address the nerve damage has only further revealed the permanence and level of that damage. I’ve now heard from every doctor that has taken care of me for any length of time the same words. “Mr. Crosby, this will never get better.” Every time you hear those words it throws tons of water on your fire towards recovery. However, I prayed all day today what I will continue to pray. Lord, grant me favor as I seek to do Your will every step of the way. Despite the outcome, the odds, and the overwhelming conclusions. I place my full trust in You not man or my situation.

“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
(Nehemiah 1:11)

Where Do I Begin

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I’ve got one of those weeks ahead that I would love to bypass. Nothing I can get into detail about on social media. I’m still just in a total dog fight physically, emotionally, mentally, and for certain spiritually. There is no doubt that the enemy hopes at any point that I will simply wave my white flag and give up the fight. Well, I have decided to do that it’s just not the way he was hoping. I’m waving my white flag, but it’s in total surrender to my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

This week I’ve got some doctor appointments that will effect my entire future medical care. I’ve known all along that apart from a miracle from God this life changing nerve pain battle will continue. In fact, it’s very likely I will need more surgery, shots and procedures in the future. For those wondering was this spinal cord stimulator worth the trouble? ABSOLUTELY. It’s not been easy dealing with all the hiccups along the way, but the necessity of the implanted unit is not even in question. I would have already been in a crazy house by now if not for this stimulator. It may not cure everything, but it gives me at least a chance to keep things bearable each day. Getting rid of this unit anytime soon would be like someone with severe breathing issues totally getting rid of their oxygen machine.

My future medical bills over the next thirty years alone if God allows will likely be off the chain. Therefore, because this was a work related injury I’ve got to stay connected with workman’s compensation for many years to come. I wish this was all just a dream and this battle would come to an easy end. However, we all reach a point where we can’t look back questioning everything that has happened to us. We’ve simply got to make the best God led prayerful decisions moving forward. We’ve got to totally trust God with the past, present, and future. There will always be a million voices, thoughts, and concerns. I’m simply choosing to believe that God is still God. No matter what has happened or does happen. Just keep me in your prayers this week and know I’m lifting each of you reading this up to our Heavenly Father.

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

Sporadic Meltdowns

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I felt it coming through every fiber within me. Every muscle in my back has become spastic. My legs have been throbbing with pain. It’s like dealing with a surge you just can’t stop or avoid. Even the slightest bit of stress leads to my meltdown.

Earlier I was just simply looking back over the message God has led me to preach this Sunday. I like to make sure I’m fully prepared to guide people clearly towards God’s will. It requires my total mind and heart being invested. It’s so much more than just talking for 35-40 minutes. It’s letting God pipeline his truth through you. 

Anyway, the pressure that comes with this responsibility is very taxing on my malfunctioning nervous system. I’m presently laying on a bed of ice seeking to settle my back muscles. I’m casting all my cares upon the Lord for I know He cares for me. I’m praying that I at least get a few quality hours of sleep. That tomorrow won’t bring with it any more sporadic meltdowns. 

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

Humility Matters

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I’ve been in the ministry for 25 years. Fortunately, over that time I’ve learned that you don’t have to know it all you just need to know who does. You don’t need to do God’s job for Him. You need to let God do His job through you. Even still, life continues to humble me making me realize my total dependence on Christ doing a work in me so that He can then do a mighty work through me.
One thing my health battle has done is keep me on my knees. There hasn’t been a Sunday the past couple years that I’ve not had to totally free fall into the arms of Jesus. Most Sundays I’ve done all I could do to even be present. However, I knew what mattered most was that God was present. When I go to preach any sermon I know that unless God intervenes all that comes out of mouth will just human words.
I do believe God allows certain things to happen that get our EGO out of the way. EGO stands for Edging God Out. We edge God out anytime we think we’ve got it figured out and don’t need His help. We edge God out anytime we think we’re strong enough or smart enough to make things happen apart from Him. One thing I know for certain because God has humbled me. I can’t even walk without God holding my hand. I certainly can’t change the hearts or minds of people. Anything good that happens in me, through me, around me or despite me happens because God is good.
“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(James 4:6)

Keep Pressing & Keep Believing

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I’m certain that last night I had a complete neurological breakdown. When I woke up this morning it was as if my body was just shot from what I refer to as a neurological seizure. These things fry me mentally and physically. It’s as if someone burned all my nerves up inside from head to toe. I could have easily slept and stayed in the bed all day. But, I knew that would not be good for me. My wife encouraged me strongly to get up because she had seen this movie before. 

After sleeping over 9 hours I had to talk myself into getting up and getting out. I knew if I could get to the YMCA for some water therapy I would feel better physically and for sure mentally. I’m happy to say that both goals were accomplished. I feel so much better after swimming about 400yds and sitting in a heated jet pool for 15 minutes.

Praise God once again for the strength to take the next right step. My hands, feet, and legs are still breaking out due to my Neuropathy. But, I feel like a completely different person than I was yesterday. God just keeps proving to me over and over again that He is faithful!

“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)

A Tribute To My Mom

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This past Mother’s day I felt led to reflect on how thankful I am for my mom. This is not an exhaustive list by far. But, it’s 5 of the things I love most about my mom. These things have been demonstrated all my life and I’m grateful God chose her to be my mom.

#1 SHE LOVES ME.
I don’t have to earn that love. I don’t have to search or beg for that love. I don’t have to worry about losing that love. She has proven over time that her love is unconditional and never in question. That’s not just something she says, but it’s something she has demonstrated for a lot of years. I’m very grateful for the love that flows from her heart to my heart.

#2 SHE LEADS BY EXAMPLE.
So many wish they had a parent that sought to lead by example. She doesn’t tell me to do anything she doesn’t seek to do herself. She strives really hard to set a Godly example for both me and my children to follow. I don’t have to fear being embarrassed by her lack of integrity. She seeks daily to be a living example of what she feels will honor God and not cause others to stumble.

#3 SHE IS ALWAYS THERE.
Since I can ever remember my mom has always been there for me. Whether growing up, going off to college or following God’s leading in my life. Mom has always been active in my life and concerned with every aspect of my life. No matter good or bad she’s been in my corner. She makes every effort to stay involved in my life and do everything she can to help me seek God’s best for my life.

#4 SHE KEEPS PRAYING.
I’ve always known my mom stays on her knees on my behalf. She lets me know often that she is praying. As I’ve gone through the worst 2 1/2 years of my life physically her prayers have kept me going. I know I can call or text her day or night with my struggle. That very moment she will take my needs to our Heavenly Father believing God will intervene and take care of the situation at hand.

#5 SHE LOVES MY DAD.
Now this will not make most people’s top 5 list because most parents are divorced. It’s a big deal to me that both my parents are still together. Much like my own wife loves me despite me. I witness my mom loving my dad wholeheartedly. That love is devoted, patient, unconditional and makes all the difference. Yes, a good woman is hard to find. I’ve been super blessed with one that I’m married to and another who I’m honored to call mom.

“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 31:26-31)

Why I Choose To Be Transparent

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Praise God I slept the past 5 1/2 hours according to my Fitbit. Just woke up about an hour after my 6am medicine alarm went off. And I immediately asked my wife “you know it’s almost 7am and the kids are gonna be late to school?” She says, “It’s Saturday the kids don’t have school.” I’m like oh I’m sorry I can’t tell one day from the next.

I do hope each of you realize that I’m just choosing to be transparent every step through this journey. And I realize there is a risk with every piece of honesty I throw out there. Especially as a pastor who many expect to be perfect. But, I told you from the start that I feel led to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. This way hopefully you can see God’s greatness in the midst of my great weakness.

I’ve simply found that confession is healing for the soul. I know it’s gotten me through many a dark day and night. I do feel much more at peace this morning after a very rough night. Thanks for your constant prayers and encouragement. I do pray often that something I choose to share each day will connect, comfort and encourage you. I will keep being transparent , but for now I’m gonna try and go back to sleep. I find that it’s best physically and emotionally that I try to shorten my days. Anything beyond 8-9 hours awake really makes my body totally meltdown.

If you think I’ve spoken some words of desperation listen to what Job spoke to his friends when he was under distress. As he evidently considered friends those whom you can truly be honest with and they still love you. This is long, but read this one chapter of Job in response to his friends that were not only not being encouraging in his darkest time, but they were doubting the genuineness of his faith. When he knew in his heart he was just processing honestly with his friends.

(Job 6)(NLT)Then Job spoke again:
2 “If my misery could be weighed
and my troubles be put on the scales,
3 they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.That is why I spoke impulsively.
4 For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows.Their poison infects my spirit.God’s terrors are lined up against me.
5 Don’t I have a right to complain?
Don’t wild donkeys bray when they find no grass, and oxen bellow when they have no food?
6 Don’t people complain about unsalted food? Does anyone want the tasteless white of an egg?
7 My appetite disappears when I look at it; I gag at the thought of eating it!
8 “Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant my desire.
9 I wish he would crush me. I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me.
10 At least I can take comfort in this:
Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 But I don’t have the strength to endure. I have nothing to live for.
12 Do I have the strength of a stone?
Is my body made of bronze?
13 No, I am utterly helpless,
without any chance of success.
14 “One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook that overflows its banks in the spring
16 when it is swollen with ice and melting snow.
17 But when the hot weather arrives, the water disappears. The brook vanishes in the heat.
18 The caravans turn aside to be refreshed, but there is nothing to drink, so they die.
19 The caravans from Tema search for this water; the travelers from Sheba hope to find it.
20 They count on it but are disappointed. When they arrive, their hopes are dashed.
21 You, too, have given no help.You have seen my calamity, and you are afraid.
22 But why? Have I ever asked you for a gift? Have I begged for anything of yours for myself?
23 Have I asked you to rescue me from my enemies, or to save me from ruthless people?
24 Teach me, and I will keep quiet.
Show me what I have done wrong.
25 Honest words can be painful,but what do your criticisms amount to?
26 Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation?
27 You would even send an orphan into slavery or sell a friend.
28 Look at me!Would I lie to your face?
29 Stop assuming my guilt,
for I have done no wrong.
30 Do you think I am lying? Don’t I know the difference between right and wrong?

Grief Is Always A Process

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I’m not sure I agree with the statement “time heals all wounds.” That’s definitely not true concerning all griefs in this life. Some things you don get over, but God carries you through. With time some things may get a little easier. But, anytime you’re grieving the loss of someone or something you can’t reverse you’re going to grieve and it’s always a process.

I’m finally realizing how much I’ve been grieving the loss of my health. Or at least the loss of the life I once knew. I know I’m still very fortunate to have the health I do have, but it’s far from the health I did have. I have literally gone through every stage of grief as if someone died. What died was the old me. The day I shattered my L5 S1 disc the old me slipped right out the window.

For the longest time I lived in total denial or ignorance one. I just couldn’t believe that my nerve damage could be so bad. I’ve gone through the bargaining stage where I’ve thought this or that would have kept things from reaching this point. I’ve definitely dealt with long seasons of depression that I believe have only been masked by some of my medications. I’ve dealt with wanting to isolate myself from others especially when I almost always feel terrible. Anytime you don’t feel like yourself it’s tough to be around people.

Finally, over the past year I’ve been trying to reach a greater acceptance. Maybe a big part of that is me seeking to embrace my new normal and reality. To quit wallowing in my pain and just work through it. To do what I can and quit focusing on what I can’t. To quit looking back and start walking forward. But, how do you do that when your greatest grief is simply feeling terrible from sun up to sun down.

I wish I had a clear, quick answer. But, I’ve concluded there is none. We each just have to find our way through the storm clouds. We can’t fly over the valley, but we have to trust Jesus to take us through the valley. Then, somehow, someway we will make it through the heavy and uncertain moments of life. If we keep putting our little hand in His great big hand.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)

 

Overwhelmed By Present Reality

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Today has been another  really long day. I’ve spent another 5-6 hours in the tub. I spent several hours researching and chasing hopes of a brighter tomorrow that all ended in roadblocks and letdowns. I’ve had moments of joy and counting many blessings. I’ve prayed and prayed over many things. And, I’ve had one continuous theme keep slapping me in the face and ripping out my heart. My nerves really are fried inside of me and it continues to impact every part of my life.
Right this very moment my legs and feet are vibrating with radiating nerve pain. My heart is pounding as things quickly move into my chest and face. It’s so hard for me to feel normal. Especially when my entire nervous system is going haywire inside of me. I’ve done nothing all day and yet I feel like I’ve walked one thousand miles. The combination of my current reality and me having to keep digesting that reality is becoming a bit much.
I’m so overwhelmed, heartbroken, and if I’m honest starting to feel hopeless that I can ever get better. My drive is fading and my ability to bounce back is getting harder. I know many wish I would just shut up and put my big boy pants on. But, I would challenge that person to wear my pants for even a week and see if you aren’t begging to get back in yours.
My fight is gone, but faith is fighting for me. I’m out of breath, but He is breathing for me. Once again I will take my meds to help me sleep and seek to keep taking one day at a time. God has carried me this far so there is no reason to doubt that He won’t keep carrying me forward.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:14)

My Desperate Prayer

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Dear Heavenly Father,
I long ago reached the absolute most I could handle. I can’t even recall the last time I didn’t feel like I was hanging on by a very thin thread. For the longest time I tried to hide it as best you can when your body and mind are an absolute wreck. Those days of pretending are far behind me. I know I’m totally desperate for Your extreme intervention otherwise I will surely sink.

From my viewpoint I’ve been running in place for the longest time. Actually, I’ve not been doing much running at all. I’ve been laying in a bed of exhausting pain and discomfort. I long for the day my body doesn’t make me nauseous just from waking up each morning. My world as I once knew it was turned totally upside down 32 months ago.

The days are getting longer, but my faith is growing stronger. From one side all I see is endless pain and waiting for relief the rest of my life. From another side I see how You are using this cross daily for Your glory. I don’t consider it my right to tell you what to do or to question what You are doing. So here is my humble, yet desperate prayer.

Keep me close to Your heart and most in tune to Your will. May my faith be far greater than my greatest fear. Hold me together when I would otherwise fall completely apart. Use this struggle to make Your power known to many. Take care of my family and Your church when my limitations are so many. Replace all my anxieties with Your peace and the assurance of Your presence. Have Your way in me, through me, and despite me. I surrender everything to You and I choose to walk by faith no matter what the future holds.

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

Another Mountain To Climb

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Well, I’ve made several more phone calls including calling the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The more I hear the more I’m not hearing what I would like to hear. Simply the fact that I’m still dealing with workman’s compensation makes this a huge mess. They are not even willing to see me for an initial assessment without Workman’s Comp approval. Even with me paying total cash out. But, due to the fact that I will be maintaining open medical with workman’s comp the rest of my life doesn’t make things look promising.

Between the cost of maintaining this spinal cord stimulator or ever having to replace it, any more potential future surgeries, and the need for shots or other procedures. I can’t just cut ties totally with workman’s compensation and put such a financial burden on my family. Also, if I go to the Mayo Clinic paying cash alone the numbers could rise WAY above $5,000 due to all the testing and stuff they demand to do all over again because they prefer to use their own equipment. I’m still not thinking this is hopeless, but the mountain to climb just keeps looking bigger. I need Jesus to part the Red Sea for me! Whatever is meant to be will happen as I do all that I can, while trusting God to do all that I can’t.
To be continued…..

“I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHEN’S ME.” (Philippians 4:13)

Not What I Wanted To Hear

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Well that was just a bummer! Just received a call from the Mayo Clinic office in Jacksonville, FL and they said they don’t accept my particular insurance. I would have to put down a minimum of $5,000 as a self-paying patient just to be seen initially. And then any further testing needed would come out of that money.

I told them if I’m gonna give them that kinda of money I will certainly look into the main campus in Rochester, Minnesota. Which they agreed has them out staffed and out resourced by a landslide. However, it was still not what I expected or wanted to hear concerning just an initial assessment visit. I’m not quite ready to create a go fund me right now or chase this down presently. I’ve got several more doctor appointments over this month to worry about. You can bet that I’m not giving up on this pursuit.

In the future, if I give them that kind of money up front it will be an appointment to see the best of the best. I want their best Neurologist with no doubt that I’m in the absolute most competent hands. Anyway, that literal phone call just spiked up my nerve pain to twice as strong as it was prior to that call. That’s not abnormal as anything that involves full engagement from my mind and heart presents that challenge. I will keep you all posted as I plan to do a little more homework concerning this matter.

“In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”
(Psalm 18:29)

Restoring Joy & Peace

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I’ve realized something about myself recently. Sometimes we can be in such a long season of pain that we allow it to steal our joy. It’s not that we aren’t blessed, but in our hearts we’re just more bummed. Especially if we have something physically or emotionally draining us for so long. That something begins to define us and pretty much blind us from seeing life’s blessings.

I woke up this morning with several of the same aches, pains, and worries as I’ve had for two and half years. However, I woke up with a slightly different attitude. I’m trying my best to make sure I don’t let satan keep stealing my joy and peace along with everything else. So I did what I used to do a whole lot more often in the past. I pulled out a piece of paper and just began to list out my blessings one by one. 

It didn’t take long for the page to be full of things I’m truly thankful to God for in my life. This is so critical to maintaining God’s peace in my life. Life will always have pain and unforeseen trials. However, there are always things to smile about and celebrate. Therefore, don’t let satan keep you consumed with the tough stuff that you totally forget about all the good stuff. Scripture tells us that its the combo of giving God the hard stuff mixed with thanking Him for the good stuff that will give us peace. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

I Finally Made The First Move

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Well, it’s official I’ve finally requested an appointment at the Mayo Clinic. Hoping to get initially evaluated at the Jacksonville, FL location. Then, if need be I will head to their main campus in Rochester, Minnesota. I just finally felt up to even filling out some basic information online. We’ll see how this works moving forward. I’m not assuming anything as I keep praying my way through each step.
I’m still dealing with quite a bit of itching in the hands and feet. My neuropathy is causing red itching patches to show up all over my body. Yes, they can flare up even more when I’m in the tub. But, they’ve shown that water is not the only thing that stimulates them. I just feel like I have a very large body of work for them to examine. I’m pretty much willing to do anything possible to see if there is any hope that man can do any more for my condition.
My prayer is that I’m able to get an appointment with their best neurologist. Wherever He resides I want to go. I then pray that God will connect my past journey with my present one. I’m hoping that trials and tests before will greatly benefit this process. And, I’m hoping that none of this ends up feeling like just more wasted time. But, you can’t expect anything if you don’t try. So, I’m trying one last time to find answers, pain relief, and God willing total healing.

Love Broke Through Again

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Today has been such a blessing. While I may still deal with constant nerve sensations the insane pain near my tailbone is completely gone. I’m talking no sign all day of it even slightly being there. I have continued to rest my body per doctor’s orders. But, the fact I have no lingering pain from that painful shot yesterday and no pain in that area period is a straight miracle from God. I’ve had many shots in the past and none of them have ever rendered instant or later any clear relief. Every shot before actually made me hurt even more for over a week.

I’m just going to praise God for my miracles one by one. Having that extra area of pain removed gets me back to at least a sane level. Just two days ago I was in total meltdown mode and wondering if this was just another blow to my heart and mind. I really wondered how much more I could take and I was begging God for even the slightest breakthrough. Here He goes again bursting hope through the grey clouds of despair.

This article will definitely make it into my future “Faith Walking” book. It’s just another moment I gave it all up and God once again reached into my situation. He touched me, calmed me, and took off me that which I just couldn’t bare anymore. What a God! What a Savior! What a tribute to God’s faithfulness as I continue to faith walk through this pain!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Getting Rid Of A Guilty Conscience

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I’ve often said satan makes us feel guilty, but God makes us feel convicted. What’s the difference? Conviction is when we know something needs to change in our heart or life. Conviction can lead to a much needed positive change. Feeling guilty just pure leaves miserable over things. It’s when you just beat yourself up over and over again because of past decisions that you can do nothing about in the present. Well, there is one thing you can do which I’ll explain in a moment.

First, let me tackle this positive thing called conviction. God’s spirit and word convicts us when things need to be dealt with in our hearts. God points out when our attitude towards someone or something needs to change. God convicts us when we’re settling for far less than His best in our everyday life and relationships. God convicts us not to just to condemn us, but to reroute us towards Himself. We’re all natural sinners so there are many times God must convict us so that we can find freedom from our sin. So our eyes can be opened to the truth and so we can fully experience His love, grace, and fellowship in a much deeper way.

Satan’s only goal is to make us feel guilty and miserable. He knows if he can keep us bound by our past regrets he can deny us of present peace. If we don’t have peace in the present we can’t move forward towards a future. Satan doesn’t want you to know your past is forgivable. He doesn’t want you to know that God loves you despite anything you have of have not done. That all you’ve got to do is genuinely asked God to forgive you of your sins and He will. That God will not only forgive you of your sins, but He won’t hold any of your past against you. You can be totally washed clean because of Jesus’s sacrificial blood on that cross for you. You no longer have to live in guilt or shame. But, in Christ you become a new creation, a spiritually reborn child of God, and someone who no longer has to be haunted by your past sins.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
(Romans 2:4)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:23)

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

“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
(1 John 1:9)

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
(Psalm 103:12)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

Nighttime Update

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Well, I’ve taken all the good stuff and I’m just waiting on it to completely kick in. I’ve not slept a wink all day as laying in the bed is just not easy for me right now. Can’t lay down flat on my back, on my side, or sit up without something hurting. I do presently feel a little better than earlier. That pain in my tailbone is just easily breathtaking to say the least. I’m sure it will tame down the next 24-48 hours. I can get back in the bath sometime tomorrow if that spot will cooperate. Not gonna lie and say I’m not absolutely miserable. But, I know it can always be worse. God keeps giving me the strength I need to make it through every valley.

I No Longer Hope In My Situation

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I’m about to say something that might sound like I’m losing my faith, but I’m not. Let me clarify myself. I am losing my faith in what I can do to change my situation. I am losing my faith in what doctors can do for my situation. It appears that every move I make leads to a dead end street. I’ve tried a million things all leading back to the same old pain. I’m exhausted from trying to be optimistic and maintain wishful thinking.

Dr. David Jeremiah in his book “When Your World Falls Apart” says the following. “Positive is a perfectly good word, and optimism is a fine thing. Unfortunately, life isn’t always positive. Sometimes things go wrong. And if our minds are set on being relentlessly positive, the time will come when we may be living in fantasy. I like to be positive, and I count myself as a very positive thinker. But here is something else I believe: If you don’t have a realistic view of adversity, the outcome won’t be very positive when it’s your turn to face it.”

So from a human standpoint I’m not putting anymore hope in my life situations. I’m not going to be unrealistic about the fact I’ve got a lot of nerve damage. Damage that may not be healed this side of Heaven. Damage that may change my approach to life for good. By taking this viewpoint I won’t be disappointed and I can continue to live. Why? Because I’m putting all my hope in my never changing Heavenly Father instead of my ever changing situations.

I expect trials because Jesus told me I will continue to face plenty of them. Therefore I must cling to the hope I can only find in Jesus instead of being let down by wishful thinking. Honestly, reaching this viewpoint has given me a peace that goes beyond all understanding. Yes I’ll keep fighting and I will keep the faith. But, I will rest my hope in Jesus Christ alone.

“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)

What If I Were Healthy?

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Right this moment I’m simply trying to do anything I can to take my mind off my pain. I’ve decided to do a little dreaming and praying. What if I didn’t feel absolutely miserable? What if I could do anything that didn’t involve this bed of misery? What if I were healthy enough to do whatever I wanted? What if?
First, I would take my wife out as much as possible. We would just head out to do things fun together that didn’t involve discussing my pain. We would thoroughly enjoy one another’s company. I wouldn’t have to worry about my pain ruining our conversation and connection. I just love that lady so much and I pray so much this becomes reality.
Secondly, I would load up my boys and head out for some fun. Maybe we could ride some go karts together? Maybe we could play some basketball, tennis, or toss around a baseball? This time of year, I would have to get out on the water and do some fishing. Pretty much anything that gives us some quality, enjoyable moments together would be awesome.
Thirdly, I would spend quality time with my parents. Time that doesn’t involve me being transported to another doctor’s appointment. Time that doesn’t involve discussion about my struggles, but their struggles. God willing one day I will get to be there for them like they’ve always been there for me.
Fourthly, I would get back to another thing I miss terribly. I would get back out to pastoring people the way God has wired me to do. I miss meeting people in hospitals or homes by the bedside of illness where they desperately need a ministry of presence. I miss helping marriages on the verge of crashing find hope. I even miss preaching funerals in a way that helps grieving loved ones find comfort and peace. I just missing loving on and being around people. It’s all I ever knew for years before this pain entered my life. And I miss it dearly!
Last but not least, I would enjoy exercising and taking care of my physical health. Walking, running, swimming, and getting back to playing tennis would top the list. I would take part in a few fun runs per year. I would hit the gym smiling ear to ear. I would just be so grateful to be active once again. I’m praying and believing that if it’s God’s will each of these things will to come to be. Jesus I believe it’s all possible with you in the mix!
 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” 
(Ephesians 3:20-21)

A Literal Pain In The Butt

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Got back home a few hours ago from getting my pain shot. Gonna have to ice 20 minutes every hour for sure. They literally injected the shot directly into in the tailbone area to ensure it has a chance to tackle that lower nerve root. It definitely hurt and still hurts a lot more than usual as I’ve never gotten any shots that weren’t just in my lower back. 

At least it gives me a chance at knocking out some area of pain. Of course, it will take up 3 days before it starts helping and up to 14 days before I can expect maximum results. Hardest thing for me the next several days will be dealing with all my pain while not being allowed to soak in a tub. Considering that my biggest normal go to for relief will prove to be quite challenging.

Even right now as I’m laying on my side I just feel so out of sorts. My legs are restless, my body aches, my nerves are still very unsettled and I’m quite irritable. I’ve pretty much been that way since yesterday morning. I hate these moments where every second feels like an hour and you just wish you could be put to sleep until it’s all better. Sadly , there is no quick fix to life’s toughest moments. Father God give me patience, calm my anxieties, and touch my aching body. 

“At least I can take comfort in this: Despite the pain, I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”

(Job 6:10)

Still In The Waiting Room

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Life around me keeps flying by like a rocket. I’m doing everything I possibly can to keep up. I give my absolute best with every step I can take. However, whether it be my 6am, 2pm, 8pm, or 10pm medicine alarms they all find me still in much pain. Over the past 32 months I’ve now been to 18 different health facilities. I’ve gone to over 180 different health appointments. I’ve travelled over 12,000 miles just to get to them.

When I say I’ve spent quite awhile in the waiting room I mean it in every since of the word. Go ahead and add to the above that I still spend two thirds of every day either in the bed or tub seeking relief from this nerve pain. This morning my parents will take me to get another epidural injection in hopes of some relief in the days to come. But, after many shots, surgeries, therapy, and a spinal cord stimulator has not gotten you there you really don’t go in with high hopes.

Now, when I say I have little hope that’s simply in what man can do. I’m exhausted, I’m clueless and they seem to be clueless too as to anything else that can be done. However, this is where faith must begin. It’s where man realizes what he can’t, but must trust in a God who can. Yes, it defies all human reasoning that I could ever be healed or overcome this severe nerve damage. But, I’m still waiting and it’s not for the next doctor appointment. I waiting before the Lord Jesus believing He is using every moment, preparing me for greater things, and will renew my strength in due time.

“Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

 

 

Uncomfortable In My Own Skin

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While my nerves at least settled down some earlier my body has never been able to rest. Even after two Valium earlier my heart is starting to pound again. This nerve sensation just makes you feel so ill, touchy, and somewhat unpredictable. You just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. I can still feel tingling underneath my skin from my feet to my face. You would think I had been out all day and my face was badly sunburned.

My wife can testify that at it’s worst point I’m like the Incredible Hulk. Once I turns green it’s all over and no one is fully safe in my path. For me you can’t just walk past me, suddenly make any noise, and ask me even a simple question. Not without me being extremely startled and my emotions flaring up inside. I’ve learned that everything is dictated by the state of your nervous system.

Man, I would give anything to just feel normal. But, what really is normal? We all have a secret battle and a cross to bear. We don’t get to pick them, but evidently God picked them for us. Therefore I’ve just got to trust that while it all takes me by surprise nothing takes God but surprise. He has a plan for using my every trial to develop my faith and demonstrate His greatness. 

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

(1 Peter 4:12-13)

The Devil Must Be Real Scared

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My wife just spoke to me words she’s never said in our 25 years of dating, marriage or ministry. She said, “All I know is the devil must be real scared of you!” It was kind of hard for me to respond verbally seeing as how pain has presently knocked the air out my sails. But, my mind I’m nodding YES he is determined to throw me off God’s course for my life. He knows I’m serous about reaching as many people possible for Christ.

The pain has now grown and reached a category five if it were a hurricane. I just took my second Valium less than an hour apart. Since, my body doesn’t respond well to narcotics I’m having to get through this with no man-made pain medication. Just something for anxiety and lots of prayer for breakthrough. Often I feel God has me writing this like someone stuck in their basement just waiting for the tornadoes to pass them by. Also, do that I can look back and testify to what God alone has carried me through.

The enemy is coming at me from every angle. Inside, outside, and I was even covered with ants earlier as I was trying to lay in the tub. Both my surgically area and the nerve near my tailbone are screaming for attention. It feels like I’ve just gotten into a really bad car wreck and the damage still needs to be assessed. Praise God, I just receive approval that I will get another epidural pain injection tomorrow morning at 11am. All I can pray is that in the weeks to come it will bring me some degree of relief. Well, I’m starting to feel my meds calming my nerves so hopefully I will be able to sleep the next several hours.

“This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

When The Pain Is Insane

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I’m praying the Valium I took will settle me down soon. And, I’m believing the prayers of many will accomplish the rest. Outside of just pure misery this level of nerve pain crushes my spirit deep within. As strong as my faith is I’m still human. Each time I feel I’m headed towards the mountain top of recovery I’m thrown right back into this valley of excruciating pain.

It’s so harder and harder to keep getting back up when the carpet keeps getting jerked from underneath you. Month 32 of this absolute chaos is not proving to be anymore promising. It’s like I’m just hanging on by an inch at the top of a huge cliff. I know with just a slight wind I could tumble down into the pits of despair. How can this still be the case after all this time, effort and prayer.

Yet, I have to practice what I preach in keeping my faith. I would love to check myself into some hospital. Or better yet let me jump on an airplane and just try fly away from this pain. But, I know no matter where I go the pain will travel with me. Oh God, I continue to cry out to you from the belly of this whale. Help me! Rescue me once again as You have done so many times before. I trust You even when I can’t trust my own self.

“I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,but the Lord supported me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud.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 18:1-6,16-29)

 

Still Praying For A Miracle

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I’ve experienced this countless times and it’s still hard to explain. I’ve been in the tub or bed since last night. Presently my lower back, legs and feet feel like they are plugged up to an electrical outlet with very high voltage. About 30 minutes ago my phone rang and I attempted to answer it. Just from that one phone call my nerve pain rose from a normal beach wave to a tidal wave within me. Let me break this process down further for you. 

First of all, it’s like already having some magnetic field running through you always at least a low level. But, knowing the slightest sound  movement, or even thought can lead to that magnetic field within totally overtaking your body. My nerve pain can move from my feet to my face in just seconds. Presently, it’s sitting all the way up in my chest. It’s like you’ve poured a toxic liquid into me that is filling up my body from my feet to my chest. When it gets much higher all I can do is take a Valium and keep praying “Help Me God.”

Very similar to a normal seizure I have neurological seizures. It’s like my entire nervous system breaker box has been knocked out by lightning. And with that outage comes a lack of being able to handle even the slightest conversation, sound, or movement. During that time all I can do is lie still, pray continuously and wait for some order within my nervous system to be restored. My doctor says that only 10 percent of people anywhere who who battle with nerve pain have it to my degree. Mainly because of how much percentage of my body is affected by this nerve damage. For this reason all I can keep praying for is my miracle. 

“ When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 17:14-20)

The Rain Keeps Pouring But…

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Just as I suspected I’m right back in this tub again. Was only out the house maybe four to five hours and my body is shot. It’s all it takes these days to totally melt me down. That’s without driving myself anywhere and only standing up for a little while. However. hardships are a constant part of life for everyone.

I’ve had the privilege of observing a lot of people’s journeys over time. There is one thing that jumps out crystal clear for all. Whether rich or poor, young or old, good family or bad family things happen. The hardships in this life just keep on surprising you. They come through in the form of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and relational pain. You try your best to ignore them, but something is always coming your way.

That’s why it’s true that each of us are always in one of three seasons. Either we’re in a storm, headed for a storm or just came through a storm. We long for the pain to be no more. We hope the storms will just cease for good one day. And for the believer in Christ they will one day. But, the rain just keeps pouring into our lives this side of Heaven. Therefore, we must cling to our Savior Jesus Christ for He is the only never changing peace in this life.

“For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” Matthew 5:45

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

 

 

In Over My Head

Over My Head

Henry Blackaby once asked, “Will God ever ask you to do something you are not able to do? The answer is yes–all the time! It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.”

I’ve been in the ministry for 25 years and counting. Every mission God has called me to has been more than I could handle alone. This doesn’t mean I’m not the man for the job. This strictly indicates that I don’t stand a chance without Divine intervention. Without the efforts and support of others God calls. Contrary to popular belief God does put on us way more than we can handle. For we must understand that God never intended for us to handle or do anything great without Him.

Throughout scripture God calls men and women to tasks way over their head or ability. However, where He guides He provides. Whom He calls He equips. He loves to take willing, ordinary people and accomplish through them extraordinary things. When God calls you to do something He is not asking are you capable? Instead, He is asking are you willing to let Him take you by the hand and lead your every step? Are you willing to be a surrendered servant and messenger that He can use to make a really big eternal difference.

5 years ago Refuge Church was just a vision, hope and dream. We didn’t have more than 15-20 people for the first year of worship. Recently, I met with nearly 20 leaders of the largest weekly attended church in Colleton County. Just know when God calls you to anything greater than yourself He will call others too. It doesn’t have to all make perfect sense. God just needs your full surrender to His call.

(Isaiah 6:8) says “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Where Have I Been?

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Well, I know you guys have not heard from me in a few days. I’ve got a few reasons for that happening. One, I kinda hit a dry spell where God just wasn’t putting anything on my heart to write. Two, I’ve just felt it best that I not dwell on my pain all the time. Three, my wife was away this weekend at a women’s retreat so I had more responsibility on me than usual. Anyway, here is how things have been.

First, I’m sure I’ve spent at least 15 hours in a hot tub this weekend. It’s still my only go to when things really get rough or to keep my pain from getting totally out of hand. The pain in my lower nerve region has somewhat improved. The pain in my lower back itself is as strong as ever. The pressure on that surgical area alone keeps everything like a pressure cooker throughout my body.

I have observed something clearly in recent days. Anytime you add my severe neuropathy with any extra stress it makes me breakout in a rash all over. I thought it was just hot water, but more than anything stress fuels the fire. And, I don’t think I can ever expect a stress free life this side of Heaven.

This Wednesday if it gets approved in time I will get an epidural pain injection in area that troubles me most. I’ve never had significant success from these shots. But, I can’t conclude they’ve not helped some. It’s been almost 15 months since the last injection. So, pray this shot gets approved ASAP and that it actually makes a difference in my pain level. Even at this moment both hands are covered with red splotches and itching badly. Today, I’m thankful for the strength and grace God has given me to get through all things.

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

 

I Hate Disappointing Others

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Unless you’re a Pastor you might not fully understand the following. I’ve been in the ministry for 25 years. I’m not just used to being there for people, but I love being there for people. I know I’ve been called by God. Therefore helping people find peace with God runs deep through my veins. However, a lot has drastically changed since I started being a Pastor.

I’m presently Pastor of one of the largest churches in our county or surrounding area. By, the grace of God I’m still able to preach most Sundays. However, I have missed nearly 5 months of preaching due to 3 different back surgeries in just the past 24 months alone. What I used to be able to do during the week no longer takes place because of permanent nerve damage throughout my lower body. I used to meet countless people for counseling, comfort, and just to provide a much needed ministry of presence. I used to be there for people when no one else did or cared enough to be. Yet, for the past 2 1/2 years I’ve had to learn how to care for people from my literal bed. 

It’s been over 31 months and counting since I’ve been cleared by a doctor to go back to work. For a good while I’ve grieved over my limitations. I’m constantly having to say no to crisis counseling, funerals, weddings, and hospital visits. I’m simply not able to be there for people when they need me most. I was used to seeing an average of 20-25 people per week at their sick bedside. Now, I don’t even see that many in a year. I’ve sought to equip everyone around me to help care for others. But, in my heart I feel I’ve let down hundreds of people during this time of chronic illness. 

Yes, I know I’m not Jesus or God. But, you must understand ministry is in my blood. I deeply care about people and I feel called to be there for people. It’s so much more than a job to me. It’s a joy and a passion put in my heart by God. My heart still cries for what I can’t do or provide for those going through difficult times. I do the best I can from my sick bedside to pray and minister to others. However, I’ve been forced by my health issues to acknowledge and respect my limitations. I thank God for the multitude who have loved and supported me despite my illness.

“Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself.”

Galatians 4:13-14

Back To Reality

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I hate this feeling more every time. Once again I took enough meds to knock out a horse hours ago. My legs have been killing me the entire time with no sign of that changing. My battery site and lower back are distributing their normal pain. All of it just keeps me miserable by the second. Why me Lord is what I want to scream. But, why not me as I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

I get so disappointed when I think I’m headed for better days. I’m able to predict my pain like the weather man is able to predict the daily forecast. I truly did have a decent day and now I’m back to having another night from Hell. This dog fight is constant and there are no wonderful feeling moments. There are just times that aren’t quite as bad.

Heavenly Father, have your way in my life. Accomplish your will despite how I feel or what I’m going through. I know pain and suffering is a part of this life. Even still I need your help to make it through the pain. Show me what to do, where to go, how to endure this fiery trial. Help me to not give up on my miracle, yet still remain faithful through the present pain.

“ 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)

 

When You Can You Must

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It has been over a week since I had the strength to do anything towards my recovery. Nerve pain still won’t let me just take a long walk. I’ve spent most all my time either in the bed, tub, or headed to the next doctor’s appointment. I’ve had to keep myself from driving anywhere that wasn’t an absolute must. So, I’ve pretty much been driven by someone anywhere I’ve gone.

Well, thanks to over 10 hours sleep and then 3 hours in the tub following I felt my best in over a week. Not well enough to just run anywhere, but good enough I wanted to try and do something physical. My wife was taking my oldest son back to the University of South Carolina this afternoon so I hitched a ride with them. She dropped me off at the YMCA on their way. 

So, I was able to swim some laps in the aquatic center and then get on their hot tub for more exercise. It felt so good to do something more than just lay around. I feel so much better psychologically and physically right now. But, I had to seize the moment while I felt like it and had a Chauffeur. And I’m so glad I did. 

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

Time For Some “GOD” News

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Many that follow me know that life has been beyond difficult for me lately. Honestly, deep in my heart I’ve just been so sad and feeling hopeless. Every step has been painful. The terrible flare ups of itching had returned. Greater pain in my lower nerve endings has come back as I await another pain shot. The past several nights of trying to sleep have been total nightmares filled with nonstop agony. 

Well, I think it’s time for some good news. One, I’m scheduled for another epidural injection next Wednesday. Two, while it takes hours of my time sitting in the bath does bring relief. Three, last night I slept straight through the night. Then, after taking my 6am meds I went back to sleep. I slept over 10 hours total without extreme pain.

I believe my stimulator is at least back to running with some consistency. The prayers of many are working on my behalf. I know life is not going to be perfect with my condition. However, any good moments are total God moments. Once again God picked me up when I was totally about to lose it. I just had to share and praise my Heavenly Father. 

“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

James 1:17

The Best Medicine

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GOD’S HOLY WORD 

After hours in the tub, a Valium and continuous prayer my nerves are way more settled than earlier. Hopefully my nighttime meds actually kick in soon tonight. I just can’t imagine enduring another all nighter. The past two nights I’ve not slept a wink before 4am.

The past 6 days straight have been really hard on my body and mind. I find the first place satan tries to get into is your mind. He loves to try and confuse, frighten, and torment us. It happens to the best of us even preachers. I do think there is a lot of room to the fact that an idol mind is a devil’s workshop.

I’m so glad I know where to go for answers, comfort, and peace. Every scripture is God breathed. Every word is absolute truth. As much medication I’ve been prescribed over time none can match its effectiveness. This book gives hope for both this life and the life to come. And, when your world is falling apart here is where to turn “God’s Holy Word.”

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

It’s Getting Much Darker In The Closet

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Please allow me to be human. I can finally see why people have breaking points. I’ve been one step away from my own for quite awhile. But, it’s getting so much harder to breath, handle, and continue processing. Presently, I’m not living, I’m simply surviving. I do whatever I can to make it through the next day in front of me. In fact, just the next minute has become a chore.

I’m not just overwhelmed I’m miserable. There is no let up in my agony and pain. In fact, it’s only been getting worse. There is no sign of hope that will change anything, anytime soon.  I would pay any amount of money for relief. I would do whatever possible for things to get better. But, for now I’m stuck in this prison of suffering.

I know there are many who have it way worse than me. I know I have so much to be thankful for in my life. However, it’s getting darker, lonelier, and my misery is reaching an epic level. I have no doubt God is using this Hell I’m going through. But, my humanity is screaming for relief and rescue. God knows I’m trying my absolute best. God knows I can’t personally handle anymore. 

“I hate my life. I will freely express my complaint. I will speak as bitterly as I feel.” (Job 10:1)