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)

I’ve God A Bug Zapper Inside Me

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I remember clearly something my grandparents had hanging underneath their outside carport. It was a blue fluorescent light in something shaped like a small bird cage. If any bugs got near it they didn’t have a chance at survival. When any got near the light it would start zapping them with some kind of electrical  magnetic field. You could just hear and see it constantly going crazy over any bugs nearby.

Well, this bug zapper is much like my nerve pain when its at it’s very worse. Right this very moment the nerve pain within me is beyond sensitive. Any sound or movement nearby is sparking electricity throughout my entire lower body. Within seconds of whatever my body detects things are lit up within. Even my wife who has been around it countless days can’t understand it. How can she? I can’t fully comprehend it and it’s going on inside of my body.

If someone outside nearby is running any loud piece of equipment my nerves can wake me out of a deep sleep. Electricity runs through both feet, legs, and sometimes all the way into my face. There is literally nothing I can do to stop it or fully explain it. I’m hoping my spinal cord stimulator rep can meet me very soon to get my device adjusted in hopes of calming the madness within me. As I’ve stated before the Neuropathy level within me only 10 perfect of anyone with nerve pain experiences. I’m laying on my side now with no ability to stop this thorn in my flesh.

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

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

My Life Feels On Hold

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Every second of my life has revolved around my health issues for going on 32 months. In the past 5 1/2 months alone I’ve gone to 30 different health appointments and travelled over 2350 miles to get to them. This does not even count all the attempts at exercise, sleep, and recovery. I put together all my medications each night and make sure all my reminder alarms are set.

I strategically don’t rest in the afternoon so that I possibly can rest at night. My normal nerve pain meds are taken every 8 hours like clock work. Then, there is my nighttime medication that I must take if I ever hope to sleep a wink. Oh, and I’ve not even mentioned the fact that it’s nothing for me to spend at least 5 hours per day soaking in a tub for relief. I’ve actually stayed in there 8 hours straight so we finally moved one TV into the bathroom.

Now, add on to this making sure that my spinal cord stimulator is functioning as well as possible. I’ve got to make sure it’s on the best setting possible. I also have to guard myself from over stimulation which makes your heart race, stomach nauseous, and your skin crawl. Along with this implanted stimulator that is never predictable is the big battery implanted in my back. I can’t lay flat on my back or on my right side. Anything pushing straight against that battery hurts so bad as it’s metal on bone.

Now, throw into all of this the fact that driving absolutely kills me. So, I’m driven to everyone of my appointments and other places for that matter. I’m not supposed to sit or stand for more than 30 minutes at a time. Oh yes, on my free time I go to the YMCA for water therapy that’s 40 minutes away from my house. It does me a world of good. Oh and I almost forget the 21 different counseling sessions I’ve been to in my attempt to process this trying season that never ends.

Quite frankly it’s all I can do just to preach on a Sunday morning. My meds keep me drowsy. My nerve pain steals my joy with every move I make. And, I’m still daily trying to discover what’s actually wrong with me and what if anything I can do about it. Make sure you throw into all of this constant prayer and processing. No wonder it all seems so consuming at times. No wonder I find it difficult to be a husband, father of 4 boys, and a Pastor to many. Recovery is my daily life and this is still missing plenty of  other details. I’m just having to trust this is still God’s timing.

“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)

I’m Sure I Have PTSD

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I can feel that old familiar sensation rising in my bones. Not just what I experienced last night, but so many nights the past 2 1/2 years. The first time your nerve pain takes you by total surprise. The next time your nervous system is wrecked it still takes you by some surprise. The next time It leaves you wondering if you can ever go back to living a normal life again. 

Last night alone will go down as one of the worst nights of my life. It’s like someone hooked me up to an electric chair. And while it may not have killed me it made me wish that someone would put me out of my misery. Countless nights similar to last night have truly jolted my body and mind. I find myself hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

Tonight, will I be torched again for endless hours straight? Will my legs hurt so bad I would like to cut them off? Will I have no way of stopping the pain that makes me go insane? These are real questions that just keep flooding through my mind. My heart is pounding and my body is bracing itself for a possible rerun of what I’ve experienced so many times before. All I know to do now is what I knew to do before. Pray, Pray, Pray, & then Pray some more. Because some things no matter how much you want to change them only God can change them.

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

After 17 Hours

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I was able to get around 9 hours of sleep over the past 17 hours of up and down pain. But, I believe I’ve at least got my spinal cord stimulator back on track and my nerve pain bearable for the moment. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your prayers. I’ve never felt more broken, but I’ve always felt so loved. And that matters so much in this heavyweight battle!

“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

I Experienced A Glimpse Of Hell

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I don’t even know where to begin. Last night was absolute living Hell. Feeling bad is one thing, but having no way to stop internal flames throughout your lower body is indescribable. I ended having to turn off my spinal stimulator for over 6 hours due to over stimulation. Plus o had no answer or explanation for the intensity of nerve pain that was absolutely tormenting me by the second.

I’m not joking when I say that this has only increased my passion to do everything possible to never get used to men, women, boys and girls dying and going to Hell. I can’t imagine what eternal flames and constant burning inside and out must feel like. But, I can promise you I know what internal flames feel like throughout one’s lower body.

I would have paid any price for relief. I would have  driven a million miles for things to calm down. Yet, there was nothing me or anyone could do. I’m still experiencing flames within as I just got to turn my stimulator back on and it will take time to get back in my system. Plus I took my morning meds 2 hours late because at some point late in the night I passed out asleep because of the nighttime meds taken. I’m just in a fix and waiting for just a little relief. God knows I’ve literally been through the fire and flames are still burning! I go in the morning to for an initial visit to discuss the placement of my future shot. But, who knows how long I will be left in this Hell cycle waiting on it’s approval.

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

It’s Now 3am

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If my heart rate was not alright I would be heading up to the emergency room. I’ve been here many, many times before, but never with my legs hurting this bad. I believe I have felt the edge leave a little since turning the stimulator totally off. But, I’m talking pain that takes your breath way with each surge while being so tired you keep drifting back and forth to sleep.

“I can do all things through Christ who give me strength

 

Under Attack

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While feeling intoxicated by meds, yet with no relief I’ve got my hands in the air. I’m crying out to God as my legs constantly feel like they plugged into an electrical outlet. That’s why I just flipped my stimulator completely off. It was working so well before! I know for certain that I’m under extreme demonic attack which is why I unashamedly beg for your prayers!

“So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
(Ephesians 6:10-18)(The Message)

It’s Where He Is Today

Jesus carrying the cross.

His pain has gone on
for oh so long
He just doesn’t know how
to keep holding on

The nights are getting worse
and the days very long
He knows that he is weak,
but only Jesus is strong

By grace he has made it
even crawling to this point
His faith is somewhat faded
due to all his painful joints

He knows who holds today
and tomorrow in His hands
He’s never doubted once
God has amazing plans.

Yes it’s quite a cross to carry
He pray for this cup to pass
All he keeps hearing from heaven
Is this pain won’t always last.

Please God Take This Away

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It’s been maybe an hour since my exhausted body fell asleep. I just finally had to wale up and take a Valium hoping to take the edge off my pain. My lower body hurts so bad and I just can’t understand the intensity of the pain. I’ve done absolutely nothing and have no clue why I’m in such torment. I just turned my stimulator down as my legs feel they could vibrate off my body any minute. I have a  true love/hate relationship with that man made device. This is getting harder and harder to endure. Jesus I beg you for mercy and relief!

“Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.”

Job 30:17

My Days Never Go As Planned

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After spending several hours in the tub for relief I thought I felt up to watching a one hour comedy with my wife. After all, I’m typically not up to going out on a date or doing much else anymore. So, I figured I would seize my moment of strength and enjoy some laughs together. The first ten minutes had me smiling until my pain had me feeling miserable again. 

I’m talking the kind of pain that just leaves you nauseous and steals the joy right out of you. Fortunately, my wife is very understanding and low maintenance. She’s seen these moments of pain so much it feels normal. However, I can tell you that no matter how much i experience this kind of pain it never makes me feel normal. It just leaves me wondering what life might be like without such ongoing pain.

As I lay here on my side, nerve pain is shooting like lightning all throughout my body. My lower back aches terribly and it feels like I’ve got a huge metal plate stuck inside me. Trust me, I’m not complaining to you I’m just giving you a front window seat into my life. It’s now I’m reminded why I must seek help. I’m not going to live in denial and act like everything is great. God is great, but I’m still struggling big time. And, in a moment I will close my eyes and do what brings me the most present joy. I will with the help of medication go to sleep and hope tomorrow is easier than today!

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

I Might Move To Minnesota

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Today doctor’s visit was somewhat of a turning point. At least when it comes to my future care. My surgeon said, “I’m afraid we’ve all done all that we can do to get you better. That doesn’t mean you can’t  possibly get some better, but right now there is no more need for more surgery. And you’ve already got the spinal stimulator which is the best device out there for nerve pain.” Here are some key things we discussed.

One, I have been given a referral for another pain shot to hopefully easy the pain near my tailbone. Now, I’ve just got to wait on it’s approval. Secondly, he feels I need to give my new battery 3-6 months to heal and then see if it feels any better before trading it out. I’ve only had this bigger battery implanted 2 months ago so still room for further recovery. Thirdly, he mentioned that at any time he could take the two screws out of my back that were put in there just to stabilize the healing of my fusion. Right now he and I both feel that him going back into that area could generate more nerve aggravation. So, I’m gonna put that on hold for now. But, they can be taken out through an outpatient surgery anytime. I do like the idea of less metal in my back. 

Finally, I asked him to give me his evaluation of my condition over all. He said, “I do believe you have a very high level of nerve pain and a greater sensitivity throughout your body than most.” He admitted that I might could benefit from further evaluation of my condition. I asked, “So, would you recommend I go somewhere like the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville?” He said, “I think that’s a great idea and they might be able to help you more. But, if you’re gonna go I recommend you go straight to the best one in Rochester, Minnesota.” I discovered the following when I got home.

“U.S. News & World Report ranked Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. the best hospital in the nation in their 2017-2018 rankings. … Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus has more No. 1 rankings than any other hospital in the nation. The Mayo Clinic employs more than 34,000 people at the main campus in Rochester. 

So, I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m certain God does. I firmly believe we’re always either moving forward or rolling backwards. For weeks I’ve felt my health just rolling backwards while feeling helpless. I need the best evaluation I can get of my condition. I’ve had some good doctors help me with some things. But, I need a full evaluation of my condition, clarity of what’s wrong, and the best plan for dealing with it. I can accept whatever truth I discover, but I can’t be at peace until I know I’ve done everything possible to feel better. I may be visiting Rochester, Minnesota in the very near future. Might have to do a Go Fund Me to get there, but I will do whatever it takes to be my healthiest. I’ve got too much to live for and fight for! I know God has a plan!

““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

Trusting God In The Waiting

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I’m presently in the waiting room at my surgeon’s office. So much on my mind and heart. In fact, I’ve never felt at more of a crossroads in my life. This is such an important appointment that could determine so much of my future health. I’m praying every moment I breathe in and out.

While I’m writing this I’m listening to one of my favorite songs through headphones. It’s called “It’s Gonna Be Ok.” Deep down I do believe that God has all the details worked out for my good and His glory. But, if I’m honest the human side of me is scared to death. After all, at this moment I’ve got three major areas that are hurting so badly.

My tailbone, my lower back and my stimulator battery are all giving me all the pain I ever want. When will it all end? When will I wake up from this unwelcomed nightmare.l? I wish I had the answers, but only God does. I’m going to have to keep trusting the one who has carried me this far!

“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)(Amplified)

The Scariest Feeling

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For the second time during the night I had the scariest feeling I’ve had so far during my recovery process. I felt my back going out in the most vulnerable area of my back. Deep within the very fiber of where I had my L5 S1 fusion. It’s honestly a feeling I can’t  fully describe. It’s as if the very titanium disc itself was about to break in half.

Both times all I was attempting to do was sit up in the bed. I only felt if slightly around 12:30am. But, when I tried to sit up on my own around 5:15am I knew I better continue lying completely still in my bed. Because deep within the deepest part of my back’s surgical area I feel a vulnerability that just doesn’t feel right. It’s like something is just about to snap in half at the very root of my back. And I’m not just talking some bad muscle pull.

I had to ask my wife to bring me an ice pack. It did at least settle the area for the moment. But, I can tell I just can’t put this area to the test or take things likely. It really scared me in a way I’ve not experienced. Any move I make for now must be calculated and done as carefully as possible. In fact, I’m not sure I should even try to sit-up any time soon without great assistance. I believe a shot to this area must be done ASAP as it seems whatever was protecting me within their before seems to no longer be doing its job. I’m just going to lay here as still as I can for awhile and hope this settles down.

“ 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)

 

I Declare Victory

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I told my wife “hey it’s time for you to get up and get the kids ready for school.” In between her snoring all I got was a “huh.” I then looked at my watch and realized it’s just 12:19am, not 6:19am as my sleepy eyes thought before. As bad as my body is hurting I thought for sure it must be time for my 6am medication. However, it’s only been two hours since I took what would usually give me a full nights sleep. 

My entire body is aching, my hands intensely itching, and my head just shaking. I’ve got to get this nerve pain settled some how, some way. This seems to be the story of my life. While my wife  is laying down fast asleep here I am once more sitting up flooded with pain. 

After spending nearly 6 hours straight in the tub earlier I really don’t feel like getting back in it. So, I’m praying for the nerves to settle. There really is nothing else that I should take at this time. I feel like a truck hit me. I wonder when I’ll get relief and if this is where my life is headed for good. My body needs rest so badly if it’s to ever heal. Lord Jesus, in the eye of this storm I claim your total healing over my body. In your Mighty name I claim victory in the midst of feeling defeat.

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

Health Update 4/29/18

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Well, I believe over 5 hours straight in the tub is long enough. It’s the only thing giving me relief for now. Heading to see my surgeon tomorrow afternoon at 4:15pm. We’ll be taking a look at my recent Myelogram. I have no idea what to expect or if it can really show the extent of my nerve damage. My doctor said before that there is really nothing presently that can show the nerves well especially inside of them.

I’ve got a lot of things to contemplate. One, I don’t think I can function long without another pain shot. This nerve issue in my tailbone is not something I can just ignore. But, if I get the referral for the shot who knows how long I will wait to get it. 

I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to get the battery replaced for now. I would rather live with the extra discomfort that reopen a huge incision for the 3rd time in just 9 months. For now I’m just having to choose my battles wisely. 

All this said I do plan to visit Mayo Clinic as soon as I can. I believe my neuropathy issues are way greater than my doctors realize. We’re talking nerve surges running from my feet to my face. I can never predict when my nerves will run wild again. I’m just having to build my life around proactively doing what I can for relief. We will see tomorrow what tomorrow holds. 

“Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:33-34

A 13 Year Old Prayer Angel

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By the grace of God, I made it through both Sunday services. It was all I could do to not fall apart emotionally the entire first service due to my extreme nerve pain. Afterwards, I made my way as quickly as possible to my church office to catch my breath. I wasn’t in there but a few minutes before I lost it. I knew I was long overdue for another cleansing cry. I also knew I was desperate for as much prayer as possible.

While laying flat on my back I was blessed by the prayers of two of my leaders. Afterwards, they helped me get to my feet and seated. Shortly thereafter I was visited by another family very dear to me. Another prayer warrior came in and prayed for me. Then, her 13 year old granddaughter asked, “Before we leave can I pray for you?” I’m like, “absolutely!”

Much like my youngest son this young lady has always been extra special to me. In fact, I still credit her with reaching basically her entire family for Christ. Honestly, I don’t remember every word she prayed, but I know the prayer worked. I could tell she had full confidence that God would hear and honor every word she earnestly uttered in Jesus name. After all, in the past 2 1/2 years alone she has seen God answer many of her prayers in miracle fashion. 

When she was just 10 years old her 39 year old dad’s life was saved through triple bypass surgery. She has also seen since that miracle day her entire household family come to Christ, be baptized, and become actively involved in ministry to others. It didn’t matter what her age was because her faith in what she was praying was very strong. I would encourage us all to never underestimate the faith of a child  because it’s those with a true childlike faith that can call down heaven to earth. 

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4)

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Just Before I Preach

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It’s 9:10am as I write this knowing I’ve got to preach two worship services this morning. No one really understands but God exactly what I feel. Anyone evaluating what’s going inside my body right now would yell “Just Give Up.” But, everything within me is saying “Just Hold On.” I’m constantly hearing both voices around the clock. 

My body is literally trembling as I’m afraid I might breakdown any moment. My nerve pain is literally covering my feet to my face. Red splotches are popping up all over due to the level of the current inside me. The heaviness sitting on my chest has me hostage. In so many ways I’m being held hostage by my pain. Every step is painful and every thought is overwhelming. 

Once again all I can say is “Jesus I Need You.” Pick me up again and carry me through this valley. Speak despite me and through me. I can’t even walk without you holding my hand. Hold me together so I don’t fall completely apart. I run to you for rest for my weary soul. 

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

Matthew 11:28

Praise You Jesus

Footprints In The Desert

By the grace of God I slept through most of the night. However, I did wake up with my nerve pain still blaring. It’s already in my hands and my feet which have not even hit the floor yet. All I can pray is for God’s amazing grace upon me today. 

This morning I will be preaching a message entitled “How To Hear God’s Voice.” I’m certain Satan doesn’t want the people to hear one word of this sermon. But, somehow and some way God is going to speak through me and despite me. He always makes a way when there seems to be no way.

So, Lord take the word you’ve planted in me and pour it through me. Use my weakness as a platform to display your greatness. Settle this raging nerve pain within me as you circulate your Holy Spirit through me. For you deserve all the glory and honor for anything good in my life. I lay all down to you this day and thank you in advance for what I know You will do. 

“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

Dear Counselor

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Where do I begin? First of all, please excuse the fact that I feel like I’m gonna lose my mind any minute. I’m so miserable and tired of this misery. While I used to feel like I had some patience that patience has left the building. Yes, I know I sound like I’m right on the verge of a panic attack. That’s because the panic button has already been pushed.

While there may be many things on my mind there is only one that must take center stage right now. Imagine you’re talking with a guy who is threatening to jump off a bridge. Well, I’m sorta that guy right now. I need help calming down. I need hope moving forward.

Yes, this ramped up nerve pain mixed with the length of this journey has worn me down. Not to mention having to wait on doctors to give me quality care. So, in a moment I’m gonna shut up and listen to you. I just need you to know that I’m not just having a bad day, but I feel my mind and body breaking down. Now, please go ahead and speak any words you can to make me possibly feel better.

Desperate For Relief

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I finally walked out the house earlier to get a bite to eat with my wife. I was hesitant to go anywhere seeing as how the nerve pain in my tailbone area won’t allow a step without breath taking pain. There was one point inside the restaurant I thought for sure I would start sobbing uncontrollable tears at any moment. Anytime things reach this level I’m not given many options. The breakdown of my entire nervous system leads to my breakdown both physically and emotionally.

Right now the pain in that area is an 8 out of 10. I wish more than anything I had answers or some solution. I’ve taken my nighttime meds. I have Valium sitting on standby. I’m certain I will need to see my personal counselor very soon. Pain this level for this long just quickly breaks you down.

All you can do is take deep breath after breath. Nerve pain is flowing throughout my body like lightning. I’m reaching a very concerned point and I’m not far from hitting the panic button. I know I’ve been this way before, but this present feeling always takes you by surprise. I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I’m for sure the worst I’ve been in weeks.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:16

Bed, Bath & Beyond

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I’m officially back to spending most of my days in either the bed or the bath. I’m just glad the tub can still bring me relief. The tub alone keeps me from having to pop a lot more pills. Trust me, going over 31 months with this level of pain without being hooked on any narcotics is a pure miracle from above. I don’t look down on anyone who does whatever it takes to keep their pain under control.

Anyway, I’ve got to get out of this house in some fashion to lift my spirits. On beautiful days like today it only makes you feel more depressed. You constantly feel like the world is going on without you. It’s like you’re in a coma. You can hear what everyone is saying around you, but you just can’t wake yourself up physically speaking. In your heart you’re praying constantly for God’s healing touch. 

I’ve spent my second hour in the tub trying to give myself a pep talk. It’s nothing abnormal as I do this daily. You can’t always operate based on how you feel. And while many steps may be overwhelming the next right step is what matters most. With God’s help I will digest some sun rays and vitamin D before this day is over. 

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

(Philippians 4:13)

Real & Raw Take 10,000

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Please allow me once again just to process out loud how I feel at the moment. The following doesn’t mean I’m losing faith or that I always feel this way. I’m just a firm believer that confession is key to healing. And, I’ve got a lot to get off my chest now so I can recognize God’s handiwork later.

I’m so, so tired of being in pain. It literally affects every area of my life. I simply can’t be the man, husband, dad, friend, son, or Pastor I long to be. It literally breaks my heart how my health affects my family. My wife bears so much on her shoulders. I really don’t know how she does it all. 

I’m still so determined to get well. But, with every step I take I get hit with a major setback. Presently, my body hurts too bad to exercise or walk like I need to. Sleep has not come easy the past few days which is critical for every move forward. I really don’t know where all this is going.

With each day that passes I swallow a heavy dose of reality. I really do have permanent nerve damage. I really can’t  do 50-75 perfect of what I could do before. Any stressful situation ignites my nerve pain and takes me down so quickly. Often, I have to see it to believe it. But, I’ve seen it for so long that it’s in my head and moving to my heart. Bottom line, I just don’t know where this is all going.

But, I know God has the final say. I know who holds today and tomorrow in His hands. I know who is holding me together every moment. I know man can’t, but God can turn this situation around. And I know no matter what God is using me just as much during this valley as He ever will. I know all of this, but the pain is still constant, real, and life changing. Yet, my prayer will always be “Father, no my will, but Your will be done.”

“38 Jesus told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 

39 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.”

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[f] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

(Matthew 26:38-46)

No Way To Ignore This

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It’s 3:30am and unfortunately I’m not dreaming. I am struggling even to roll my body to my right or left. This nerve pain in the tailbone area is no joke. It’s demanding my attention. Even to walk to the bathroom and back is very painful. This area has never hurt like this before or at least in quite awhile.

I don’t see how I can go long without getting another pain shot. Fortunately, I do have a previously scheduled visit with my surgeon on Monday. That visit is so we can go over the results of my Myelogram. But, this unleashed pain and my future battery will have to be discussed.

Truthfully, this tailbone pain presently trumps all the others by a mile. It’s not being touched by any medication. It just plain hurts to even take a step or stride any direction. If I don’t get this under control my quality of life takes a major blow. Not to mention the fact I can’t walk or exercise the way my body needs to for recovery.

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

Just Shaking My Head

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I’m used to waking up in the morning before taking my meds with my tailbone throbbing. Why? Because there is a major nerve ending there in connection with my main issue my L5 S1 disc. Typically that pain goes away once my meds settle into my system. However, I’m afraid that feeling in an even more intense fashion is here to stay. There is a nerve that runs through the coccyx called the sacrococcygeal nerve. That nerve evidently was being kept in check by the last pain shot I received nearly a year ago.

I can’t take even a step without it throbbing. The pain in that area had just started returning maybe a week ago. Now it’s not going away at all. That’s with with me resting all day. If I take even a deep breath it hurts. Honestly, it hurts worse than my surgical area as my stimulator is covering that well right now.

I had no idea that shot was masking that much nerve surge. I thought any relief I felt was from the stimulator or meds. Unfortunately, it seems that neither can fight off this nerve issue. I have no idea what I will do about it in the immediate future. Yet, it seems a pain injection might be my only option at comfort. My pain for sure is like playing the pop up game. As soon as you take a swing at one issue another raises it’s ugly head. 

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

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DOCTOR VISITS & DECISIONS, DECISIONS

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I wonder why I feel like I’ve spent my life at a doctor’s office! Over the past 5 1/2 months alone I’ve gone to 30 different appointments at some type of health facility. All of that precious time has only made my attempts at recovery even tougher. The worst thing for me to have to do is sit or drive for any length of time. But, it’s the merry go round I’ve been on for quite some time.

I basically have to decide by this coming Monday whether I want my surgeon to remove my present stimulator battery implant and replace it with my old battery. My present battery that has only been in me for 2 months is uncomfortable all the time. Now, I not only can’t lay flat on my back, but I can’t lay comfortably on my right side. As much as I would love to get it out I just don’t know if my body can endure being cut on for a fourth time in less than 2 years time. I sure wish all involved would truly know their facts before doing these things to me. Soon my new name will simply be called “Scar Tissue.”

I’m really 50/50 about this entire ordeal. I’m mostly leaning towards not getting the old battery put in because my body is cringing every time I think about enduring more surgical pain. At the same time, if I keep this uncomfortable battery implant I’m basically going to have to deal with it for at least 7 years. Sometimes I just think I must be dreaming because everything that could go wrong with my care over time has gone wrong. Even still, God is still God.

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

The Preacher’s Family

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Earlier my wife and I had a normal argument that was escalated by the fact we are both exhausted. No, we’re not on the verge of a divorce. Yes, we still love each other. But, God prompted me to shed light on some things that someone reading this might need to hear. The preacher, his wife, and family are so far from perfect.

In the mornings, our kids often wake up grumpy. In the evenings our kids are still grumpy. Well, all the teenagers are if you dare interrupt them while they’re locked in their rooms talking on a cellphone. Once they reached adolescence it was confirmed that we certainly don’t have this parenting thing figured out. We’re just trying to love and lead them the best we know how.

When it comes to our marriage we’ve butted heads countless times. Honestly, I’m the biggest reason for most of those times. My mouth doesn’t usually know when to stop at times. We all know that one more careless word spoken only makes matters worst. So, while our marriage may be better than average it’s far from perfect. Just spend a week with us and you will see we can relate to most people’s daily struggles.

All we do is wake up each day hoping to make the most of each moment. We put our pants on just like everybody else one leg at a time. We deal with hardships and struggles just like everybody else. We make a lot of mistakes just like everybody else. Our only difference maker is our faith in Jesus Christ and God’s word. It holds us, our marriage, and family together. Apart from this foundational rock our family would have long ago been in pieces. All grace and glory be to God!

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
(Matthew 7:24-27)

Just Another Run Around Visit

Here Is My Heart Lord

I had another visit with my pain specialist today. First words out of his mouth were “What are you here to see me about?” I said, “Well, I was hoping you knew the reason for this scheduled visit.” He replied, “I guess it’s just another one of those visits scheduled by workman’s compensation.” I then jumped into discussing as calmly as I could my present frustrations and pain.

I said, “I assume you know all that I’ve continued to go through with my stimulator. That after four attempts I’ve found not one place that can do an MRI on me based on my unit not being MRI compatible.” He said, “I told you I don’t even know why anyone would request an MRI for you. You can just get CT Scans.” I said, “I would be fine with that if someone would have told me that over 5 months ago. But, I’ve been through a whole lot being told that if I had just the right battery in me I could get an MRI as promised.”

He said, “Well the stimulator is MRI compatible with certain parts of your body.” I replied, “Yes sir, they are with all the parts I don’t need to be MRI friendly. But, me and the thousands of others who got this device implanted were told it was completely MRI compatible. In fact, 80 percent of us would have never agreed to get it if we weren’t told with such sincerity that it would never hinder any other forms of x-rays.”

I said, “I was promised that the first battery was totally MRI friendly. Only to discover that was not the case. Then, I was told if I switched to this new battery implant I could have a full MRI. Only to discover that not only is the second battery non-compatible, but all the hardware within me is non-compatible for an MRI. That’s a lot to swallow when this new “useless” battery is four times bigger than the one implanted prior to it. It is literally a constant thorn in my side day and night. It serves absolutely no purpose. I was promised that this new battery would without any doubt be MRI friendly.”

He said, “I don’t know anyone that would absolutely promise you anything. None of us can promise you anything.” I replied, “Well, it was promised by all including the stimulator company and my surgeon.” I pointed to the wall behind him and said, “What about that big poster behind you? The one that says, “How would you like to have something that helps with all your pain and is MRI compatible? Don’t you think that most who read that in such bold print are going to think they are getting a device that is MRI compatible.”

All he could keep doing is saying, “Well, as I said there is no need for it to be MRI compatible. A CT Scan can do just as good for you.” I said, “I’m not saying that you are wrong. But, I’m just simply expecting this device to be as it was told it could be MRI compatible. I certainly wish someone would have told me it wasn’t MRI friendly before I went through a third surgery and got this massive battery implanted into my skin.”

Never for one moment did my doctor apologize or act as if I had a real complaint. However, it’s not his body that is being poked constantly by this battery. It’s not his body that has been on this constant roller coaster ride full of empty promises. He’s not the one that has been lied to repeatedly. There is no doubt that if we had this case go before an honest jury I would win this by a landslide. The bottom line is my journey has revealed that this device can’t do what the company promises. All I can pray is that my discovery helps others who are yet to get this non-MRI compatible device implanted. Because I can promise you it would not be a piece of cake to just get the entire unit removed from my body. So, once again I simply must trust God with my disappointment, frustration, misfortune and with this new battery constantly piercing my side.

“I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, LORD, for you are a faithful God.” Psalm 31:5

I’m Wide Awake Because

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I’m certain I’ve not fallen asleep in over two years without some strong medication assisting that process. So, here I am at 2am still counting sheep. Why? Because I didn’t take my usual nighttime meds early enough. They are in my system now otherwise I would still be sitting up in my bed come 6am.

I wonder what keeps you up at night. I know so many have so much on their minds. Some of you are heartbroken over a relationship gone wrong. Some are devastated by the unexpected death of a loved one. Some of you are grieving over dark things that most have no clue about. Whatever your reason for being up so late I would like to speak truth into your life. 

The following are words you can know for certain even in the midst of the greatest uncertainty. You are loved by God more than you will ever know. God sees your heavy heart and will comfort your grieving soul. You are not alone in this valley called life. God wants you to put your little hand in His Big hand. God has great plans for your life that aren’t hindered by unforeseen circumstances. Don’t walk in fear, but choose to walk by faith. Faith is believing God will take you through and beyond where you are at now to where He wills for you to be later. I pray you cling to these great truths.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

Keep Fighting The Good Fight

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I believe the moment you quit fighting the good fight you really quit living for what matters. As long as there is breath in your lungs God has a purpose for your life. You might not always feel like it, but God is always at work around you. He invites you to join forces with Him. To surrender yourself completely by allowing Him to lead every area of your life.

Presently, I’m more physically limited than ever. In fact, my damaged nerves make it where I can’t even handle half of what I used to be able to handle mentally and emotionally. However, I can’t let that hold me back from living life to the fullest. I can’t let my so called handicap keep me from making the most of every moment.

You see, I don’t believe my present condition has taken God by surprise. Actually, I believe it’s part of God’s plan even if I’m uncomfortable most of the time. In this short life every second is an opportunity to live for self-glory or God’s glory. No matter what happens I’ve decided that I’m going to live life to the fullest and finish this life strong. So, God here is my life, my limitations and every breath you give me. Use me to be a great light until I reach the end of my fight. 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

I Hate Feeling This Way, But

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It’s been a rough evening overall. My body is just out of sorts since my recent Myelogram. I’m sure it will eventually change, but I always hate this feeling. My nervous system often feels on fire within. It makes me so uncomfortable in my own skin from head to toe. Pondering living the rest of my life this way is more than I can bear. 

But, I know God has given me a mission. A mission to encourage others who are silently suffering. Those who feel like nobody understands them. Those who feel like nobody cares. I believe loneliness mixed with ongoing pain is lethal.

While I hate how I feel most of the time I can’t escape God’s call. I must be a voice for those hurting all around me. I must establish opportunity where chronic illness and God’s love collide. I must allow my painful story to help others through their painful journey. Still I hate feeling this way, but I see God at work daily through it.

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

2 Corinthians 1:4

After My Myelogram

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I finally had my Myelogram this morning starting around 9:30am. I took a Valium beforehand since I wasn’t sure how my nerve pain would respond. The injection of the contrast they put into my lower back was very painful at the beginning. The overall procedure was a breeze. Afterwards, I had to stay under observation for a few hours before being released from the hospital.
Later this afternoon my head did start hurting. This did get my attention because I never have headaches on a normal basis. The Tylenol I took earlier has seemed to help some. The injection site in my lower back is aching, but all this they say is normal. I’ve also been experiencing some nausea so I’m trying to keep some food on my stomach.
I’ve been drinking at least eight ounces of water per hour as told. I did just take another Valium in hopes of settling my nerves. Again, I’m actually aching way more now than I was during or immediately following the procedure. They say if the headaches continue beyond 24 to 48 hours then I should contact my doctor. But at this time, I have no reason to think this was not successful.
I would much rather have an MRI than to do that ever again. However, I’m believing that God is going to use this for my good and His glory.
“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

In Jesus Name I Pray

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Well, today is the day I get my Myelogram. I’ve got to be at the hospital at 8:30am. My procedure doesn’t start until 9:30am. I could be there most of the day depending on how I do during the hours of observation following. At least I know I want be told that can’t finish it for the fifth time in four months. Looks like I will be getting Myelograms the rest of my life as long as I’ve got this particular spinal cord stimulator planted within me.

All I pray today is for God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will to take place. I’m certainly hoping I don’t experience another spinal fluid leak which I did experience my last pain shot injection. That will be the greatest thing they will be watching for with this procedure. I recall the extreme ongoing headache I had for a few days before going to the emergency room. Fortunately they were able to do what they call a blood patch which was painful, yet very relieving.

Over this long period of time and procedures I’ve learned you can’t take anything for granted. You can’t just assume things will go as planned. After all, the people doing things are only human. Therefore, we must bathe everything in prayer and put it in God’s hands. Then, trust Him to guide the doctors and nurses every step of the way. God, I’m asking that this Myelogram might go smoothly and reveal the very root of my constant nerve pain. Whatever needs to be seen I pray it will be seen. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. 

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

John 14:13

There Is No Easy Button

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I’ve never been more certain of what God would have me to do with my life. And, while the mind may see the playing field clearer than ever I’m simply weaker than ever. I represent Michael Jordan when it was time for him to retire versus in his prime time slam dunk days. My nerve pain is still like kryptonite taking away all my super powers. Not to mention, satan is coming at me from every direction. 

Right now, there is just no easy button for me to push. It’s hard to get out of the bed, drive, walk, exercise, and my wife even takes out all the trash. I’ve not been cleared by my doctor to work full time in over 2 1/2 years. Unless you’ve been there you don’t realize how tough that alone is to swallow when you’re only 43 and have 4 school age children. 

The rain just keeps pouring all around me. Both of our usual reliable vehicles have broken down recently. One is still in the repair shop and the newest one just got fixed a few days ago. Well, earlier when my wife went to go get in our one remaining vehicle she recognized realized one of the tires was totally flat. Fortunately, a repair shop was right near by and I was able to get it fixed where two nails had punctured it. 

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and then bow your head in prayer. For I have discovered often that the only thing certain is God’s love, goodness, and faithfulness. Thank God He is always with us and for us. So, it doesn’t matter what size the giant is in front of us when there is a great BIG GOD behind us. 

“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. 

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

(Romans 8:26-28,31)

 

Worse Helps You Appreciate Better

Off My Chest

If you’ve followed my journey you know I’ve had some pretty rough days. I’m talking countless days I just wished I could be knocked out. Moments that I wondered if I could take another second of the pain. Days that I couldn’t if I wanted hide the pain. Days that if it weren’t for the prayers of many there is no way I make it through. I’m sure I will have some more of those days ahead with my condition.

However, today I’m so grateful for any relief I’m experiencing. For at least 5 days in a row my spinal cord stimulator has kept my nerve pain level from being insane. I remember well the difference between insane and just pain. The insane makes you think things you never thought possible. The misery feels never ending and you feel hopeless in those moments. 

Now, most wearing my body right now would not be celebrating. Because the pain is still great most of the time. My entire lower body feels like I’ve been kicked relentlessly. But, I’m so grateful for this pain because I’ve experienced the insane. Had I never experienced the worse days I could never be as grateful for the better days. Today is way better than many days before. Now, to take my morning medication and hope to sleep a few more hours. 

“Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”

Psalm 146:6-8

Aiming Forward

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Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. Ask yourself, what can I possibly do to bring about a positive change in my life? Set clear goals that you can aim to accomplish one day at a time. Recovery from anything is a process, never a one day event. Change happens one good decision at a time.

Forget about all that you wish had gone different. You can’t do anything to change the past. Learn from the past, but don’t live in it. Just seek to control what you can now and trust God for results later.

For example, this morning I woke at 6:30am as usual to take my morning medication. This time instead of going right back to sleep like usual I sought to break that habit. I got up and did several physical therapy exercises. Then, I took a walk outside to swallow some Vitamin D and hopefully get my back used to normal movement. I did come back home and rest for hours more.

Today,I reached my goal of exercise both in the morning and evening. I’ve also been wearing my back brace more often to protect myself from any moment I shouldn’t make. These are just baby steps forward, but these are steps I must take if I’m to expect any progress. I have a huge list of things I can’t control, but I’m choosing to focus on the list I can control.

“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 God Made Day

Victory In The Cross

“Oh Victory In Jesus, My Savior Forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood!”

Considering my constant soreness all the stars have lined up well today on my behalf. To begin with 11 1/2 hours of sleep changed things the most. It recharged me and shortened my day. I did not even walk out the house until after 2:30pm. I did not drive much and I got at least a healthy amount of walking in for exercise.

The extra dose of Amitriptyline in the day is helping my nerves settle. My stimulator is keep my nerves from reaching the insane level. And, taking two melatonins at night mixed with my other meds is helping me get to sleep quicker.

I’m hoping to start back walking early in the mornings and late in the evenings. My body is very stiff and sore as I’ve not been able to do much intentional walking or exercise in possibly over two weeks. Between countless setbacks and soreness it’s just kept me out of any recovery momentum. My battery still brings discomfort and has noticeably irritated my skin as it has shifted around. Overall I’m just thrilled to feel somewhat normal for a day. To even feel somewhat positive in my mind is huge for me right now!

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

Finding Hope When Things Don’t Change

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I would be lying if I didn’t admit this entire journey has made my faith feel bogged down. It’s just human nature that after awhile of fighting the same battle you’re tempted to quit believing things can change. You wonder if your prayers even matter. Your Bible feels a little heavier to pick up and read. You become very heavy hearted over a situation that appears will never change.

At day 935 I’ve certainly loss most of my optimism and patience. I woke up today to my 6:30am medicine alarm feeling the exact same pains I’ve felt the entire time. The same pains I felt when I went to bed last night. It’s just a constant cycle of pain and more pain. I want out of this nightmare more than words can say. Yet, I know as much as anyone that this kind of thing can only come out by prayer.

I’ve consistently done all that I can do. However, I’ve got to keep my foot on the prayer pedal. I’ve got to keep saturating my mind with God’s book of promises. I’ve got to once again ask God to help me believe in the midst of my unbelief. Faith has never been about what we feel, see, or think. Faith is doing all that you can while trusting God for all that you can’t. It’s resting your entire hope in Jesus. Listen to this God story!

“One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

Jesus said to them,“You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?”Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”
Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Mark 9:17-29

Just Hold On

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Seems I’ve been at the edge of this very tall cliff forever. Actually it’s been 934 days of major nerve pain to be exact. For most of those days I’ve felt just one step away from collapsing. Today has been no exception as my strength is fading and my faith is so weak. Yet, all I keep hearing the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear is “just hold on my child.”

Don’t give in to your feelings. Don’t let go of my hand. Don’t quit believing that I will rescue you. Don’t think I’m any less God during the storm than I was before the storm. Don’t think I’ve brought you this far only to let you down.

Sometimes all you can do is hold on. Especially when your life feels like a constant rodeo. You’re out of breath, patience, and your faith for things to change keeps slipping. That’s when all eyes must be on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith. Yes, you could just quit everything, but what would that resolve. You would only be doing what the enemy preys you will do. If you know you’re doing everything you should and can do. Then, trust God to do all that you can’t. If God brought you this far He will take you further.

“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

 

 

The Wait Is Over

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Some good news to end this day of craziness. I will get my CT Myelogram done this coming Tuesday, April 24th @ 9:30am. I have to be there at 8am and then have to stay there lying flat for 6 hours after the procedure. It will be difficult for me to lay flat on my back period, but 6 hours could be insane. However, I’m thrilled to finally be getting some clear images of my back and nerves. This day has been long awaited for a procedure I know I can do despite any metal inside of me!

What is a Myelogram?

A myelogram is an invasive diagnostic test that uses x-rays to examine the spinal canal. A special dye is injected into the spinal canal through a hollow needle. An x-ray fluoroscope then records the images formed by the dye. Myelograms can show conditions affecting the spinal cord and nerves within the spinal canal.

How does a myelogram work?

Regular x-rays of the spine only give a clear picture of bones. The dye (contrast agent) used in a myelogram shows up white on the x-ray allowing the doctor to view the spinal cord, exiting nerves, and canal in detail. The doctor inserts a hollow needle through your skin into the spinal canal. The dye is injected into the space surrounding the spinal cord and nerve roots. This dye is radiopaque, meaning it’s impenetrable by x-ray. Then x-rays and/or a CT scan are done. The scan can see fine details and can tell your doctor how your bones are affecting your nerves.

My Psychiatrist Needs A Psychiatrist

Man with schizophrenia during psychotherapy

Today, I met for the second time with my Workman’s Compensation psychiatrist. My visit didn’t disappoint with plenty more drama and unbelievable moments. I arrived 25 minutes early before my scheduled visit. I was the only one in the waiting room and my psychiatrist was the only employee in the building. She was at the main desk processing paper work from the time I got there until she finally called me back.

Now, it was 20-30 minutes past my scheduled visit time that I was actually called back. She said, “So Mr. Crosby, what am I seeing you for today?” I said, “Well my doctor long ago requested I get to see a counselor so I assume they are finally honoring that request. I’ve definitely been through a lot since seeing you a year ago to process my expectations of the spinal cord stimulator.” She said, “Well I can’t wait to hear all about.”

So, I began to share as it was clear she absolutely knew nothing about me except that I might have gotten to stimulator implanted. I was not even five minutes into sharing pieces of my journey before she interrupted. She said, “Mr. Crosby we’ve got to speed this thing along. I’ve got other clients.” Realize that I spent the first 15 minutes of our time patiently listening to her talk about some of her health issues. Yet, she can’t listen to me for even 5 minutes. How can you help someone you never seek to understand what’s going on.

She said, “Mr. Crosby what is your desired outcome for this visit. You know some people just come to these things because they’re on a big ego trip” I said, “No mam, I’m here because I’ve gotten over my ego a long time ago. I’m just hoping to have someone care, seek to understand and help me process my painful reality the best possible.”

I kid you not that only 5-10 minutes later she was running me out the door. She said, “I hate we really couldn’t discuss much at this visit. But, I’ve got others to see and things are just different with Workman’s Comp visits. We will discuss things further at our next visit.” She said quite a mouthful that time. Every doctor visit is different with Workman’s Compensation. They don’t care and they don’t have to explain themselves. I left out that office just praying for continued self control. I know without a doubt that my psychiatrist needs a psychiatrist. Just another roller coaster visit for my God story.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

Who Knows What Happens This Time

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I’m sitting here waiting patiently for a scheduled 2pm visit with my psychiatrist. The only other time I met with this lady I was far from impressed. In fact, I left this office so did discouraged. I thought I was meeting with someone who was just caring about me, but I was wrong.

I remember our visit like it was yesterday from over a year ago. She said, I see you’re considering getting a spinal cord stimulator implanted. Tell me a little bit about your condition.” So, I began sharing with her all that I had been through and was feeling. About 5 minutes into me sharing she stopped me. She said, “Sir I’m not here to hear how you’re doing, but just to make sure you have s clear understanding of what this stimulator can and cannot do.”

After those careless words I just remember feeling sick to my stomach. Finally I’m thinking someone cares about me. Then, I realize it’s just another hour of interrogation by Workman’s Compensation. They sent me here again so I have no idea what today’s agenda will be. I just pray I’m met with even an ounce of compassion.

My Body Keeps Failing Me

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It’s 2am and my body is literally throbbing all over. Despite taking my knock you out for the night medication hours ago. Despite my stimulator running as well as ever recently. I just keep learning over and over again. I can’t drive or sit in any position more than 30 minutes without paying for it miserably. I guess the doctor is right when he says I should make sure I change positions every thirty minutes during the day.

It’s just human nature that if you feel some better than usual, then one would think they are some better. Except if any relief you’re feeling is only due to being partially masked by your medications and stimulator implant. The reality of my permanent nerve damage keeps rearing it’s ugly head. Keeps letting me know that apart from divine intervention the old me is dead.

This just kills me as I long to be a great husband, father, son, brother, friend, and minister. It’s very hard to operate with great patience when you’re always on edge from feeling such great pain. I’m so blessed by all the opportunity and love that surrounds. Yet, my body keeps failing me over and over again. The great disappointment rains daily on my parade. I guess we all want to think that time will heal all wounds. The truth is some things you don’t get over, but God does take you through. Lord, I continue to beg and believe You for my miracle. While my body may fail me I know You never will.

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

Count It All Joy

Walking Towards the Crsso

Starting tomorrow I will be increasing my Amitriptyline daily dosage. I feel more confident with it than the Neurontin increase. Hopefully doesn’t give me any more fogginess than I have already. Starting back on my turmeric as well that I’ve never any issues with in the past.

While my life may feel at a stand still God is growing my faith, peace, and perseverance. I can feel the extra strength in my mind and heart. Yes, the body is very weary, but God is continually good to me. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.

“ Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1:2-4

Stay Alert My Friend

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Praise God, the past 48 hours has not been terrible considering how I normally feel. I’ve actually felt somewhat normal for over a day. My spinal cord stimulator has been working well in tandem with my medications. However, we all know that things can change quickly. They abruptly did this afternoon.

At first, I just started hurting and feeling nauseous as I’m accustomed to feeling. Fortunately, I did realize quickly I was 2 1/2 hours late taking my nerve pain meds. That’s despite having 4 daily alarms set. Then, I had to drive 20 miles to pick up a Fed Ex delivered check covering 4 week’s of money our family desperately needed. After I picked up the check I headed to my bank drive through as it would soon be closed.

The moment I put the check in the drop box a strong wind picked it up and blew it all the way out to the road. Already hurting badly all I could do was shake my head. It took all I could do to get out the van and reach down to get a check that kept trying to fly away.

Then, on the way back home I realized something was going on with our best family vehicle. It kept jumping and jumping. I’ve set up a noon appointment to get it checked out by the dealership we bought it from brand new. It’s only 5,000 miles away from no longer being covered under its 100,000 mile warranty. So, now we’ve got the main family van sidelined and we are still waiting for my other vehicle to have its engine replaced.

Next, we jumped into another vehicle my brother was gracious enough to lend me. This made it where Aimee could take me to the YMCA as planned. My body desperately needed the exercise as it’s been spazzing all over lately. As we were headed for my water therapy I became car sick as the air conditioning doesn’t work. However, I was determined to get there.

Now, I’m finally back from the YMCA and in the tub for the evening. Swimming those laps really did a lot to help with my muscle spasms. But, man oh man what it took just to get there. The devil has been looking for every crack he can find. He’s been all up in my personal space. I’ve learned that I’ve got to stay alert because he is always looking for a window to take me down.

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

 

Doctor Visit Update 4/16/18

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Today’s visit with my surgeon was interesting to say the least. You see, last week’s failed attempt at an MRI was followed by MUSC saying “we got such few images that we’re not even going to make any disc or charge Workman’s Compensation.” However, suddenly after my stunned stimulator rep checked in with my doctor I was asked if I would pick up what images they did capture from their records department. So, Aimee and I went that day and got a disc made.

Today, that was looked at and my doctor said, “I don’t know what the fuss was all about saying they couldn’t do a full MRI. They got a few decent images.” I just knew they were doing their best to protect a stimulator company that knows their lies of full MRI compatibility had been exposed. With my case manager present I just kept asking questions. Like how can you have clear resolution when using a SAR level 1/4 of a normal MRI?

He said, “Well while it doesn’t show anything about the nerves it shows clear bone structure. And, it shows that everything is still in order with your surgical area and stimulator battery and wires.” I said, But it’s my nerve damage that I’m most concerned about. I need as clear of picture as possible of my nerve issues.

I thought for a moment I might be sent to get another my 5th attempted MRI at a location they believed had the best machine out there. Instead, I believe my doctor made the right call. He said, “I’m going to send you to get a Myelogram as it will give us the best images possible concerning your nerves. There is nothing that can show the inside of them, but this will trace any issues clearer in the outside.”

The approval and scheduling of this will take at least 1-2 weeks. But, I have a strong peace that this is the best thing for me at this time. Also, I will need to decide over the next few weeks whether I’m going to get this new Big battery switched out for my old small one. Because my body simply can’t bear the thought of more surgery at this time I will have to give that much further thought. Until then I will wait on my Myelogram to be scheduled.

“Myelography uses a real-time form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and an injection of contrast material to evaluate the spinal cord, nerve roots and spinal lining (meninges). It is particularly useful for assessing the spine following surgery and for assessing disc abnormalities in patients who cannot undergo MRI.”

930 Long Days

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Written: 4/15/18 – 11pm

Well, it’s been a long day. Especially since 6:30am when my back totally gave out while all I did was attempt to tie my own shoes. Ever since this morning I’ve had to watch every move and pray that I don’t sneeze or cough. I guess my upper back got tired of my lower back getting all the attention. Well, it doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. They both have full recognition right now.

Now, I’m just laying on this comforting heating pad while waiting on nighttime meds to take me out. Tomorrow I will head to another doctor’s appointment. My surgeon will direct me on whether I should get a CT Scan, a Myelogram, or attempt a fifth MRI. Who knows what they will tell me next. I really don’t care anymore I’m just exhausted from the process. I’m leaving whatever is meant to be in God’s hands.

As my eyelids get heavier I have to wrap this up. Today, marked 930 days straight since life altering nerve pain entered my body. It’s changed my perspective and my approach to life. It’s been the hardest most purposeful days of life. I believe in a way I can’t fully comprehend that this has been divinely allowed so that God could receive much glory. And, all I can pray is my faith grows and remains strong through this season.

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

Broken and Blessed

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I know with just a word
You could calm this storm for me.
Yet for reasons not understood
You’ve not finished this work in me.

I fully trust your knowledge
Your greatest plans at hand.
I just hate the pain and suffering
I’m such a broken man.

Jesus, how did you do it?
You gave up your life for me.
I can’t fathom all the anguish
As you hung upon that tree.

Your soul was overwhelmed
You wished that cup would pass
You still surrendered all
You knew it was God’s path.

I wonder about my future
How long this strife will last.
I know because of your sacrifice
One day all pain will pass

But until that day comes Lord
Be my rock and be my shield
Help me follow you courageously
As I seek to always yield.

 

 

 

I’m Out Of Breath

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I know many on here would love to just hear good news. However, the truth is sometimes life is nothing but hardship. That’s just the season I’m in right now. I simply feel terrible. Getting up, getting out, sleeping and even breathing is difficult right now. Every direction I turn right is a dead end or disappointing highway.

As I shared earlier, I knew I needed to get out of the house. I knew swimming at the YMCA would leave my body feeling much better. Well, I packed all my stuff up and headed out the door. Thirty-five minutes later I arrive at my destination. Then, I reached in the back seat to get my bag only to realize somehow it was left at home. All I could do was shake my head in disbelief as I had no bathing suit or towel.

I did attempt to walk some in this hot weather. But, that was not what would have refreshed me. I’m just in an ongoing tunnel. Anything that could go wrong just keeps going wrong. I’m now back in the tub just hoping to ease my body before bedtime. “I’m out of breath, but faith is seeing for me.” My prayers are only whispers as it takes too much strength to speak them out loud. The only thing I can credit for any strength I do have is Christ in me.

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

I Want To Go To The Zoo

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The words of my 8yr old keep running through my head. He said several times yesterday to me and his momma the following. “But, I want daddy to go to the zoo with us this time. He didn’t get to go with us last week either.” I tried to let him know that daddy just didn’t feel he could endure that kind of trip even if all I had to do was walk around. If he only knew how just hearing those words break my heart.

Now, everyone else is at the zoo hopefully enjoying the day together. You gotta understand I was that dad that always went to things with the family. I didn’t just send them places and hand them money. I enjoyed the quality moments together. It was never about the destination, but the memories made along the way. Along with my physical pain that has become one of my greatest griefs.

I’ve missed so many moments the last 2 1/2 years with my family. Fun trips, fishing, sporting events, band competitions, snow fights, prom pictures, senior class moments, daddy days with my boys, date night’s with my wife, holiday family gatherings, and so much in between. It’s hard to go to stuff when you know once you get there you will be miserable and make everyone else miserable. I’m so used to being present and I long to be present with my family. My boys are growing up so quickly and these moments won’t return. All I can pray is that my 18, 16, 14, and 8 year old know that I’m simply doing all I can as I go through a season I can’t control. I would love to go to the zoo.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

Help Me Choose Joy

Caught In A Storm

The last 1 1/2 hours has not been good. Nerve pain rolling through like an unwelcome hurricane. You never get used to it you just get used to dealing with it. I hate to say it, but my best condition is called sleep. It still pains me to say those words, but it pains me even more to be awake.

I feel like I’m part of a constant juggling act. I can’t sit up longer than 30 minutes in my own bed before the bees of nerve pain attack me violently. I can’t stand up but so long without paying a huge price. And, I can’t lay down comfortably with ease without heavy medication. Even now my heart is racing and I’m just totally uncomfortable in my own skin.

Asking how much longer is the temptation of my heart. Not because I’m questioning God, but I just hate feeling this way. Every time I’m this way I’m praying it’s the last time. However, isn’t that the case for any time of suffering. Especially the seasons of difficulty that keep going on and on. So, once again dear Heavenly Father I choose to take joy knowing deep in my heart You are doing something great.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”
Philippians 4:4-5

Thank You Jesus

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Praise God for His continued mercy. For the second night in a row I do not have uncontrollable itching. Yes, I still have nerve pain and some itching. But, the insane stuff has ceased since eliminating everything I could think of to determine my greatest allergy. I still don’t know exactly which one thing I eliminated that made the greatest difference, but I really don’t care. I’m just thrilled not to be going insane at the moment. To God be the glory great things He has done!

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

Just Another Weekend

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It’s 2:40am Saturday morning as I begin writing these words. However, according to my Fitbit I’ve been asleep since 8:43pm Friday night. I know my weekend sounds so exciting. I would love to tell you I went to sleep early just because I’ve had a rough week. But, I can’t tell you when the last time it was I didn’t have a rough week. I wake up every morning expecting to have a rough day, but hoping to get through the day. I can’t tell most of my days from nights.

Earlier around 2:15am I woke up sort of frantic. I was too foggy to realize it was still AM time and not PM time. I thought for sure I had slept another day away. That I had missed another day of this party called life while everyone else around me enjoyed doing something they loved. I’m so used to that being the case I just knew it happened again. So, I’m pretty relieved that’s not the case, YET.

Looking back in the rear view mirror of my life I realize how blessed I’ve been all my life. Battling health issues was never an issue of mine. Now I’ve spent the last 3 consecutive birthdays not just thankful to wake up, but hoping I can get up. I’m bruised, broken, and I’m blessed. However, it’s just another weekend based on my expectations the past few years of my life. Anything God allows me to do beyond just waking up is icing on the cake. I’ve not given up that things can’t change I’ve just recognized that this is my current reality.

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

PRAISE GOD

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After temporarily Eliminating all my supplements, stopping my extra daily dose of Neurontin, limiting my time in the tub, keeping my legs and feet from drying out with lotion, and taking Benadryl I’m happy to say the itching was contained all night. I’ve slept a total of 8 hours and 11 minutes. I will discover the allergy or cause of such itching. Gonna try and sleep more and move around the least possible. Had a very bad itching breakout yesterday afternoon so I know it can happen quickly. Yet, while the tub is still soothing I must limit even that to just a few hours. My body as a whole just feels weird, nauseous, & nervy but God will bring healing.

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

A Constant Nightmare

Off My Chest

The constant aching, itching, and disbelief moments just won’t stop. I wish it was just a dream, but my body reminds me its a reality. My lower back feels I’ve been kicked repeatedly by a pair of steel toe boots. My skin feels right on the verge of a wildfire. And, my stress odometer is at least reading 95 out of 100.

I’m in one of those seasons that no matter what I do I can’t calm the storm. All I can ask God to do is calm His child. My nerves are toasted in more ways than one. I just want the storm to be over. I just want life to return back to normal. Yet, that option has not been given to me at this time.

Life revolves around my health situation. Our family doesn’t even have it’s own home anymore. Enjoying a typical day means taking endless baths, sleeping when I can, and hoping to hold on to my sanity. I feel like I’m behind bars for some crime I didn’t commit. I’ve come to expect bad news at every doctor visit and test that awaits. Outside of prayer my only saving grace has been to focus on the praiseworthy in the midst of the constant nightmare.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Philippians 4:8

 

You Gotta To See It To Believe It

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Folks you just can’t make this stuff up. This time I was in the MRI machine for over an hour. Beforehand the tech lady told me that outside of an MRI on someone’s brain they had never in their history attempted an MRI on this low of level specs on anyone’s back/spine . After things were finished she said. “I’m done and sorry we couldn’t do it. I tried 40 different variations and none of them worked. Honestly, I’ve never seen this much hardware in anyone’s back.”
Me: SPEECHLESS! So, I got this BIG new battery implanted for nothing and now I’ve been turned down 4 times for something promised to be totally MRI friendly.
Next they will be looking at scheduling a Myelogram or Cat Scan. I really don’t care at this point. Just do what you say you can do! #TheBattleIsReal #GodHasAPlan #ButImClueless

“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 8:28

Walking Through Fire

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I won’t go into every detail, but there are no words for my current situation except warfare. Over the past few weeks I’ve been attacked every possible way. Physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, and all at once. It’s obvious satan hopes I’ll either go insane, quit believing, or kill myself. Maybe all of the above in that order. While all of these areas have been tempting I can fortunately tell you none have been an option. However, I can’t deny or even fully explain the flames I’ve felt both inside and out.

I know beyond any doubt that satan is pulling out every tactic. He knows that God has called me to a mission that is literally pulling multitudes out of the pits of Hell with thousands on our radar. I’m talking about those satan thought would never be cared about or reached. It’s no coincidence that the moment ministry efforts switched into four wheeled drive satan came running out of his closet. It’s as if every demon of those we’re trying to rescue are chasing me. Nothing surprises me or makes sense anymore. It’s obvious satan has been allowed to do anything but kill me or my family.

For instance, this morning my stimulator settings were set 4 notches lower than they have been for weeks. Yet, the entire insides of my lower body have felt on fire for hours. I turned it down several more notches an hour ago, but I’m still waiting on the flames to die down inside. My tears come with literally no warning as my cries are but dry heaves. I know many wonder where is my God right now. I’m telling you He is right here. Later you will remember reading this terrible report and you won’t believe the God report. So, I’m making sure I shed light on these dark days so that later God’s glory is clearly revealed in the brighter days.

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

 

In My Distress

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It literally feels like I have electricity hooked up to my legs and feet. It’s obvious that my stimulator has me vibrating from within. I contacted my rep who adjusted things this morning. But, she said let’s try to leave it at the setting it’s on until tomorrow. I promised to do my best as it interrupts each breath I take.

Honestly, my heart has just been pounding all day after last night’s extreme itching, the fear of itching again like that, and thinking about laying in that MRI machine. My battery still hurts so bad when pressed against something firm. They contacted me about an hour ago and said they’ve done all they can to make my MRI possible tomorrow. The rest is in MUSC’s hands. There is just something unsettling about having someone do something like this to your body when they’ve never done it before in their life. They still aren’t sure they even can. It’s been like an ongoing nightmare that I just want over and done.

My blood pressure was pretty high at the doctor’s office this morning and I doubt it’s great right now. I’m trying my best to wait until the morning to take any Valium. Some say I’m so strong, but they don’t see me shaking on the inside. My tears are many even though my faith in God is strong. I’m just trying to hold on day by day. Truthfully, I can’t swallow more than one hour at a time. I’m giving it up again Lord asking you to settle my heart, calm my nerves, and renew my mind.

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

I’m Done Asking Why

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Anyone observing the past 31 months of my life would observe one theme “chaos.” There is great reason for me to blame and question doctors every step of the way. Honestly, the madness is so unexplainable that I’ve reached a new perspective. I will not spend the little energy I have questioning every past decision and dilemma. Am I overwhelmed, saddened, and deeply disappointed? Absolutely yes! However, there reaches a point that you must quit asking God Why and simply seek to ask God what. Because knowing the Why changes little, but seeking the what next keeps you headed in whatever direction God has planned. It allows God to use the chaos in whatever ways He has planned.

I had my stimulator adjusted earlier and I have no idea if it will make any difference in my radiating nerve pain. Today, further discussions have been had on my behalf at MUSC hospital as to whether I will still have my MRI as planned early tomorrow morning. It’s definitely believed by everyone involved that turning down the specs on the unit due to the metal in my back will decrease the resolution quality. On top of that I’m told I’m only scheduled for a 30 minute slot that is likely not near enough time for what I need done. I will spare you my opinions on this matter.

Bottom line is nobody is able to firmly say that this MRI will ever be able to show anything necessary due to the fact that no one in the hospital’s history has ever done an MRI even close to this low of resolution. You can imagine how all this feels to someone who has waited 3 extra months for this, been rejected 3 times already for an MRI, and had a spinal cord stimulator implanted being told it was completely MRI friendly only to find out it’s not true. On top of this all I just had implanted a much larger battery being told this would resolve the MRI issue. But, now with extra pain poking me in the back for the next 7 years they still don’t know if I can get the promised MRI.

There is nothing major any human can fix. I’m done focusing on the “Why” I’m just focusing on the “What Next” everyday I wake up. There is nothing to fix, do or figure out. I was just told earlier again that based on all present MRI information one of the Low Country’s most credible doctors says I’ve got permanent nerve damage and I’m declared totally disabled. There is a part of that truth I must embrace and the rest I will leave in God’s hands. I can promise you that I will never live with a disabled mindset. I will always do everything possible to get better while trusting God’s limitless ability in the midst of my inability.

Sometimes there is no direction to blame. We just need to believe and know that somehow this is a part of our God story. Quit playing the blame game and make sure you don’t let the devil distract you from living out the here and now in a way that gives God all the glory due.

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen.”
John 9:3

Still Itching

I got 4 hours sleep thanks to Benadryl and other meds. But, been up since 4:30am back dealing again with this itching. While I need to take my meds at 6am I’m already dreading the possibility of dealing with that intense itching again. As I said before I’m not talking just a little itching. I’m talking throbbing painful itching deep inside your very nerves. I’ve not taken a breakthrough med that hasn’t come with a major side effect. But, this is one I can’t live with if it continues. To be continued…..

MOST INTENSE ITCHING

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I was afraid of this possibility when I increased my Neurontin intake to the max. Just partially settled down the most intense itching one could describe. In fact, it felt more like nails in my hands, feet, and legs. Lotion did nothing and aloe gel couldn’t calm anything. Had to put my hands and feet in ice just to freeze the pain. Then, I had to add two Benadryl on top of several other drowsy meds I had already taken. Medicine is kicking in and Vaseline is helping settle some of the rawness the itching has produced. If this level of itching were to continue there is no way I can take this much Neurontin.

10pm Med Change

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Been back in the tub a little while now. In order to officially put myself on an exact every 8 hours medication rotation I had to adjust my normal schedule. Instead of taking my normal nighttime dose at 7:30pm I had to wait until 10pm. I can feel that 2 1/2 hour delay in every fiber of my body. But, once I create this discipline my body will thank me later. Even still I’m encouraged by the hope of brighter days and warm bath water.

I Can Breathe Again

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Well today has been a breath of fresh air compared to the past several days. I slept half the day, been able to keep my pain bearable and just finished some water therapy with this guy at the YMCA. My body aches with most movement, but it’s just extremely sore from being fried for days. I’m now officially taking the maximum dosage of Neurontin with no extreme noticeable change. But, I will be making sure I always take it every 8 hours so hopefully I stay ahead of the worst pain. Tomorrow I’m getting my stimulator adjusted so I’m praying that will help something. Overall I’m just grateful to feel some joy in my heart and to have many reasons to smile.

Sorry, You’ve Been Sick Too Long

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I observed the following many times in my past. However, I had to experience it myself for total confirmation. I’ve been battling major chronic pain for almost 31 months. I’ve still not been cleared to work full time by my doctor to this day. Meaning most of my life is still spent on the inside of my house not the outside.

As of today, physically speaking I don’t even feel a hair better than I did 925 days ago. Nerve pain is still wrecking my body and my life. However, most who love me are carrying on with their busy lives. I actually take 6 times the amount of nerve pain meds now versus what I did at the beginning of this journey. Plus I’ve had a spinal cord stimulator implanted to help possibly give me back some quality of life. I’m not complaining I’m just speaking painful truth.

Now, I remember many hospice patients saying “I’ve been sick so long that others don’t even think I’m sick anymore. I’m still laying in this bed of pain while they are going on with their lives.” I knew then what I know now. It’s nothing personal, but it’s human nature. Sometimes you’re sick so long that you’re exhausted from experiencing it and those around you just from being around it.

It pains those who love you to see you down and possibly out. Once they realize they can’t quick fix you they have to get back to their busy lives. You have no choice but to keep living in your chronically ill body. You can’t disassociate from the pain because it consumes you sun up to sun down. It can make you feel worlds apart from friends and family.

Understand that it’s not that people don’t care. The two of you just live in two different realities that separate you momentarily. And because you have hours a day to bathe in nothing but pain your mind can easily jump to conclusions about people that without a doubt care deeply about you. They just happen to live in a world that hasn’t stopped on a dime like yours. While it’s been a very painful lesson, I’m glad God has enlightened me with this understanding that will always help me better understand other chronically ill loved ones.

“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

The Tide Is Rising

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I’ve cried more today than I ever have in my life. My body has been shaken to the core. My entire nervous system is a train wreck. It’s an understatement to say that my strength is gone and I’m out of breath. By far this is the most intense battle I’ve ever faced.

Fortunately, I know this is how the enemy operates. Just when you’re on the brink of your breakthrough he pounces on you. It may feel like just a series of coincidences, but it’s a strategic attack. Satan knows you see light, but he will do anything to keep you in the darkness.

I’m having to crawl and fight just to hold on. My patience is gone and my body is so weary. Only a clear mind and secured heart in Christ stabilizes me as bombs continuously go off around me. My suffering steals my joy each second. Even still my eyes are fixated on the only Savior I know Jesus Christ.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 16:8

When You Just Don’t Know

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I know they say some things get easier with time, but I can assure you that’s not true with all things. Sure, over time you learn how to cope, process, and try to prepare for tough moments. But, when the most painful moments hit you find yourself right back at the bottom. Your heart sinks, your hope gets cloudy and you just wonder how much more you can take.

By now on literally day 924, I should be a pro at dealing with chronic pain. I’m talking the kind that shatters your nervous system and sucks the life out of you. Every time it strikes like lightning it feels worse than the times before. Doctors are still scrambling for answers. I’m still watching life pass me by while I simply try to endure each painful hour.

I’ve been sitting in a tub for relief for over four hours and counting. Earlier the healing tears just rolled. It was the combined impact of 5 days of straight Hell. I’ve done all that I can do. In fact, I’m still doing all that I can do. Still I’m living on an island called unknown. All I can do is free fall into the arms of Jesus. All I can do is trust in His promises and believe that all I’m going through is purposeful pain. Deep in my heart I believe everything will workout. In my human mind I’m scared to death of what the future might hold as I miss so many moments with my family and simply can’t do life or ministry as I once could.

“This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

After A Few Months It’s Back

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The fact my nerve pain is really back in rare form started midway through last week. There is an area near your tailbone that once it starts throbbing you know that the extremely pinched nerve is letting you know it’s presence. All I can think is maybe the pain shots I’ve had cover it for a short while or my Neurontin once again has run out of it’s super powers. Either way it’s not a good sign. I will not be getting another shot anytime soon and my next added dose of Neurontin will be the maximum dosage the doctor will give.

Either way it’s really creating a lot of itching in my hands and feet. I don’t know why it’s so much more intense this time. Like the moment I go to sit up in the bed to take my morning meds. So, obviously there is a direct connection between the two. The coccygeal nerve it says affects sitting, leaning and any moment mobility. And it’s where the radiating vibes in your lowe spine originate.

It’s been a few months or more since that area has bothered me. But, I know anytime it does things are getting really bad. It’s been my barometer for my nerve pain for 2 1/2 years. I always know when it’s under control the rest is under control. But, the throbbing how now been back for 5 days and the itching is only getting worse. It’s the kind of itching that is so much deeper than the skin. I’m afraid I will have to entertain more meds if I’m to maintain any activity or maintain sanity. Of course, I’m back in the hot tub for some relief. Somehow hot water calms some of the itching.

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

I Survived Sunday 4/8/18

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Well I survived another day by the grace of God. As I attempt to write this both hands feel like they are on fire with intense itching. I just spent another 3 1/2 hours in a tub which was relieving. I just took 10mg of Melatonin that I pray mixed with everything else will knock me out very soon.

I’ve got a lot of doctor’s appointments coming up all throughout April. Basically everyone revolve around more uncertainty than certainty. The only thing certain is I’ve got some really bad nerve damage that is driving me crazy. But, it’s beyond uncertain as to whether man has my answers or further hope to offer me.

Of course my first big appointment will be this Thursday’s MRI. This will be my 4th “attempt” to get an MRI since getting my spinal cord stimulator. I really don’t know how to look at this situation. I’m grateful God appears to be opening this door. However, I won’t believe I’m getting an MRI until it’s all said and done. All I know to keep praying is “Father, not my will, but thy will be done.”

Certainly lots on my mind as this day comes to an end. But, I’ve got to practice what I preach when I say take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. So here you go God. Take me life, my circumstances, my worries, and my fears. Please give me your peace that passes all understanding.

“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

Dear Younger Me

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I figure I’m at least midway through my life. I’ve thought deeply about some things I would tell the younger me. And while I can’t go back and relive any of my past I’m hoping what I’ve learned might help someone just starting out their life journey. These are just a few things that I know now that I wish I knew years ago.

#1 God Has A Plan.
I know those just sound like cute words, but it’s true. You don’t have to create a life. Instead, you need to aim to discover the life God has already created just for you. God has a tailored made plan for who you are to marry, what you are to do, and even where you are to live. You simply need to trust God and allow Him to lead you step by step. He will work out all the details.

#2 Learn From Those Before You.
You don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Yes, we live in different times than before. But, life experience is priceless. Listen to your parent or grandparents. Allow those older to feed you with insight. Learn from their successes and even their failures. Believe it or not they were young once.

#3 Enjoy Your Present Season.
Too many are trying to take the fast lane of life. Don’t be in such a rush to get to a particular destination that will likely disappoint. Enjoy your youth, freedom, and today’s opportunities. Take one day at a time and live life to it’s fullest. Goals are necessary, but don’t let your future goals steal your present joy.

#4 Make Healthy Choices Now.
Too many live carelessly and aimlessly. Seek to build healthy relationships with others.
Learn now how to set healthy life boundaries. Take care of the body God has given you now knowing it’s the body you will live with later. Develop healthy habits now that will lead to a healthier you in the future. Consider deeply what you put into your body and do to your body. The health decisions you make today will affect your health tomorrow.

#5 Read Your Bible.
We live in a world that gets most of its truth from the internet, television and society. The problem with that is we don’t determine what is truth. However, our owner’a manual the Bible reveals the God honest truth. It’s where we discover God’s rules for living and what God says will lead to a successful life. After all, at the end of this life only God’s opinion will matter.

#6 Don’t Be Afraid To Fail.
Your life is gonna be full of ups and downs. And you aren’t going to do things perfectly because we’re all imperfect. Understand that failure is part of the journey. It’s where we grow, learn, and develop. Many of my greatest successes today are because of my failures in the past. You will get knocked down, but God will always pick you back up.

#7 Live Like You’re Dying
Yes, you read that correctly. The younger we are the further we feel away from death’s door. But, life has shown over time that death is no respecter of age. Knowing that our time of death is uncertain should compel us to live with a greater sense of urgency. Am I prepared to face eternity? Is my life focused on things now that will really matter in the end? The Bible says at the end of this life only three things will remain “Faith, Hope, & Love.”

I pray that somewhere in this life reflection I’ve shared something that might help the younger generation. For I do believe that God has amazing plans for you not just later, but right now. Determine to be the best you that God has created you to be.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.”
Proverbs 3:13

5am 4/8/18

I’m very concerned about today. I’ve gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep as I’ve been tossing and turning since 1:30am. I can feel my nerve pain running through every vein like ice water. It’s even up in my chest which only happens when it’s really bad. By the grace of God alone do I ever make it through any Sunday preaching. All I can say is God picks me up and carries me. I’m always concerned that I’m not gonna make it through without collapsing. The past few days and nights have really depleted me. Lord Jesus, Please strengthen me and hold me together as only You can. I need You more than ever to override my nervous system and just assure my heart everything will be alright. God please use me despite me!

Heading To Bed 4/7/18

Potter & Clay

He’s Still Working On Me……..

Well, I’m about to hit the bed. I’ve taken enough medication to help 3 people sleep. I do believe I’ve eliminated some supplements that were causing my increased itching the past few days.

While dealing with an obvious handicap daily I’m so glad my God is bigger. When I can’t see, He sees for me. When I can’t do, He does for me. When I can’t think, He gives messages to me. Bottom line is He has shown me that it’s in the midst of my “I Can’t” that He shows that He still can.

It’s not about me. It’s never been about me. Yes, I’m enduring steady torment, but nothing like what my Lord Jesus endured for sinners like me on that cross. I’m so grateful that no matter where life finds us God can use us. Even if we feel like we’re on the sidelines if we look hard enough we’ll see a platform God has given us for His glory.

Please join with me in praying that I get at least 6-8 hours of sleep that my body desperately needs for healing. And, that when I wake up early my mind will be sharp and God will give me the strength once again to preach boldly His truth.

No Sleep, Still Shade

Caught In A Storm

It’s 1:45am and there is no other medicine I can take at this time. I’ve covered my itching hands and feet several times with Hydrocortisone cream but it’s obvious the root of the itching is just too deep to reach. Overall my pain has settled, but my constant misery continues. Even with several meds in me that would make anyone sleepy my body is showing no sign of being released to sleep.

It’s in these moments that I would give anything just to be pain free. I’m convinced that’s what gets so many hooked on prescription drugs. We all just want a break from the pain. I would love to be in a hospital hooked up to an IV drip, but that would be far from a long term fix.

So, I continue to itch, ache and pray. I actually pulled back out my prayer shawl. I’ll be the first to admit that my earnest prayers typically come when I feel the situation is desperate. I’m convinced that God wants to use these times to remind us how desperately we need Him. Seems these are the moments we realign with God as we learn to fully keep our little hand in His big hands.

“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

Real & Raw Take 8000

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I warned each of you that I would always share the good, bad and ugly. I do believe my meds are starting to settle my nerves. However, the skin & bone behind my new battery is really starting to ache. It’s just like the icing on top of all my other pain.

Outside of just pure miserable moments it’s just flat disappointing. I hate how my pain affects my wife, kids and others so much. My wife has practically provided me with a full assisted living house the past 2 1/2 years. She already has her hands full being the best mom in the world to 4 growing boys. Not to mention what she does daily as a pastor’s wife. Yet, she still displays nothing but grace and love.

I don’t know how others with similar conditions make it without having the support that surrounds me. Even my parents are always there for me when I should be always there for them. Life has humbled me in so many ways as pride was stripped away. All I can pray and hope is that everyone in my life will just recognize my many limitations. I know God has Big plans ahead. I’ve got to carefully and prayerfully walk through this valley of pain if I’m to make it to the promised land.

In Need Of Another Miracle 4/6/18

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It’s 9:40 pm on a Friday night. Nerve pain is still raging throughout my body. I’ve put enough meds in me the last two hours that would put any average adult to sleep for hours. Still I’m laying on my side just waiting to see what Neurontin, Muscle Relaxers, Valium and Benadryl will do.

My hands and feet are itching like crazy. The insides of my hands have been solid red at times. Unfortunately when things reach this bad the bath tub brings no relief. I just spent 3 hours straight in there just hoping for relief. I’m at that point now that you just need to not be awake.

I’ve learned it’s best to accept where things are asap and proactively try to stay ahead of the escalated pain. Satan may have wrecked another day, but he has not won the victory. I did go walking earlier for the 4th day straight. My recovery momentum is returning, but so are the tests and temptations. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I’m determined.

I just feel so sick and have to do whatever I can just to survive another night of nausea, itching, and quite honestly Hell at times. But, I’m not gonna die I will be stronger in the end. And God will once again put the devil in his rightful place.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
Romans 16:20

Invisible Until Visible Diseases

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Ever heard of things like anxiety, grief, depression, or addiction just to name a few? These things make up part of a list a mile long of things many struggle with all the time even if most people only see the major side effects some of the time. I never fully recognized such things until I started dealing with my own invisible disease called nerve damage. I can actually identify with all of the above struggles I mentioned. My permanent nerve damage alone has given me much anxiety, lots of grief, and definitely seasons of depression. Only by the grace of God am I not addicted to narcotics or some other heavy drug. However, I know for a fact that without even a day of my nerve pain medication I would not even be able to have a focused conversation.

So many people struggle with things that others never notice. Especially if from the outside that person looks perfectly fine. Or because people who battle like me rarely go out of the house especially when they are feeling their worst. I now understand why so many people are taken by surprise when they’ve only seen one extreme and then hear about things shifting to another extreme. I’m sure I’ve had over a hundred neurological seizures myself just in the past 2 years. My nerve pain is so severe it can take over my body from feet to face in seconds. Only my wife, mom, and a few friends have really observed the extreme visible side effects of my invisible disease.

Now, I’m not writing this for self-pity. In fact, many of you reading this likely battle with an invisible until visible disease. I do hope to raise awareness that we all need to try a lot harder to look beyond the surface of what our eyes can see. Make sure you seek to truly understand the people in front of you who may be dealing with a fierce battle on the inside that you can’t always see extremely on the outside. Love them where they are not where you want them to be. Pray for them instead of belittling them for a battle they can’t totally control. Give them grace to take their mask off and bear their heartache if necessary. But, whatever you do don’t think you can always judge by the outside what is really going on inside.

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32

 

 

My Recovery Merry-Go-Round

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This cooler weather in the mornings literally wakes me up aching long before it’s time for my scheduled medication. I don’t even have to check the weather my body’s metal is it’s on barometer. Even this moment it’s like a wind chime in a hurricane. Dealing with the 24/7 battle of my health condition really is like being on a nonstop roller coaster. You certainly can’t allow your feelings to dictate your every move or you would never move.

Now, yes I have to listen to my body at every turn. It’s why I have no choice but to proactively take medication 4 times a day. It’s why I have to do everything possible to get at least 8 hours sleep a day even if it takes me 14 hours to get it. Yes, I spend often over 4 hours daily in a hot tub because it proactively stays on top of my pain before it totally destroys me. Yes, I have to make myself walk each day. Because if I only walked when I felt like it I would never even get out the bed. Yes, I keep writing about my recovery process because it’s critical to my sanity and I pray my journey might help someone else.

I just recently started back journaling my progress each day because otherwise it is impossible to tell one day from the next. Any healing is so slow and unrecognizable by most accounts. Especially when you’re waiting on nerves to regenerate or die. In fact, take away my meds and stimulator and nothing has changed whatsoever in 920 days. In fact, nearly 2 years ago I was better than I am now in what I could do before. But, I can promise you I’m not giving up on my recovery efforts. I will not quit trying everything I can until I’m out of breath to move forward. That said, let me try to rest off This morning’s discomfort once these morning meds kick in.

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

The Moment I Lay Down

 

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As crazy as it may sound to some the moment I lay down is when my greatest battle begins. It instantly exposes the things inside my back that were not God-made. I do believe God uses doctors, surgeries, technology and medications. However, nothing done to me has brought me much relief. When I lay down I’m reminded of my brokenness.

It feels like metal needs to come out. It feels like I’m far from fixed and something needs to be done. It feels like my hands and feet will never stop itching. It feels like I can’t take much more and like I’ll never get better.

Maybe when you lay down is when your pain most surfaces. Maybe it’s physical or maybe it’s emotional. You wonder if you will ever stop hurting so bad. All I can say from experience is time does bring greater peace, promise and healing. As you keep putting your little hand in God’s great big hand healing will come.

“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

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Proverbs 3:24

 

 

Accident or Appointment?

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It gets old quickly when your greatest battle is finding comfort in your own skin. However, whether I like it or not 43 years old finds me having to battle for every step forward. I’ve had so many setbacks during my 2 1/2 years of recovery effort. I can either look at those setbacks as accidents or appointments. I’m choosing to look at them as divine appointments.
 
Now, don’t get me wrong I battle with many human emotions daily. I get mad, sad, and everything in between. But, what good does it do to “what if” things to death? What has happened has happened already. My worrying or questioning everything changes nothing except to escalate my stress level. Therefore, I’m choosing to believe that nothing has happened to me apart from God’s diving allowance.
 
I’m certain that anyone who’s had experienced something life altering is left to wonder and process it from a human standpoint. Fortunately, time has given me the opportunity to process things from God’s viewpoint. God’s word is full of people who face seeming misfortune and devastating life circumstances. Yet, time and time again we see God’s glory revealed through their weakness. We see their weakness become a huge turning point in their lives and in their testimony of God’s grace at work in their life. I fully believe that God is able to take the good, bad, and ugly in our lives and write a story that brings Him great glory. And, while we may feel life is full of accidents in God’s hands they become divine appointments.
 
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” Ecclesiastes 3:1
 
“And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

God Doesn’t Waste Pain

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The itching and throbbing I wake up to each morning is pretty intense. That has actually been worse the last few days. But, I’m certain that my body isn’t happy with me getting back into consistent exercise and that always stirs things up more. I’ve just gotta survive this transition time and not let it throw me off this horse called recovery.

Even though I hate feeling this way there is a lot of truth when It comes to the saying “No pain, no gain.” This applies when it comes to the development of strength, character and faith for sure. You’ve got to go through some uncomfortable stuff for growth to take place. It’s often far from fun, but usually totally necessary.

I’m like most others I don’t enjoy pain at the time, but I’ve learned it’s the way life works. So, we can’t let the painful moments throw us. God is doing something or trying to show us something. Worst thing we can do is waste our pain. And no matter what the cause of our pain in God’s hands something good is being developed.

“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

Just Continue To Faith Walk

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Well I’ve been back in the tub for awhile and might be in here the rest of the evening. Fortunately, I’m prepared now with a TV that stays setup in the bathroom since this has become my daily routine. I also purchased a nice medical table that can go over the tub, by my bedside or across the living room lazy boy. I’ve learned you might as well make the most of wherever life finds you.

I just filled up my medicine holder with my daily meds and healthy supplements. I’m now digesting 29 pills per day. All have been approved by my doctor and can contribute to my healing. In addition to what I’m digesting daily I’ve now done intentional exercise the past two days in a row. In my heart, I feel my recovery momentum returning with the weather working to my advantage. It’s just a proven fact that cold temperatures are brutal to those filled with metal.

I’m also doing all I can to marinate my mind in God’s truth instead of just wallowing in my pain. I’m putting my hope in God’s healing power not man’s limited discoveries. In many ways I still feel like I’m just running in place. I have the same aches and pains as before. But, I do believe life is 20 percent what happens to you and 80 percent how you respond to it. I’m learning how to cope better with my present disability. I’m choosing to believe this is all a part of God’s masterful plan. That it’s not an accident, but God’s divine plan that I find myself with such human limitations for all the world to see.

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
John 9:3

“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

Update 4/3/18 Re-evaluation

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While I feel really tired today has been productive. I slept exactly 7 hours putting my past weekly sleep average at 5 hours per night. I did have to add a few melatonin last night to my normal meds to get that much sleep. But, my body desperately needs more healing rest.

In many respects this was a day of new beginnings. I sat down with a very nice and bright doctor concerning my health situation. We discussed many ways to hopefully reduce the inflammation in my body. From what I eat, supplements I take to how critical my daily walking is to my overall recovery. Changing up what I eat is really the greatest challenge in my eyes, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes. Not even trying to change everything, but making sure I’m still doing my part.

Earlier, I took a necessary walk even though I felt like crashing in my bed. The return of personal discipline is always a good sign. I’ve been sitting in an epsom salt bath for the first time in over 2 years the past few hours. I’m back to trying to keep a balance of movement and rest. My greatest goal right now is to simply regain my recovery momentum. Most of the time I’m really dragging, but I’m trusting God to change that one intentional step at a time

Don’t Give Up The Fight

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If you’ve had anything rock you to your core over a lengthy period of time this message is for you. Pain is like bad company after a few days both have over stayed their welcome. At least with company you can tell them when you’ve had enough. Unfortunately, when it comes to prolonged, disruptive pain you can only control one thing. Will you keep fighting forward or will you give up?

I know personally that after awhile you just get exhausted and feel way more fragile. Satan begins to pound upon your weakest moments. He knows you’ve barely been hanging on day by day. That the longer your pain continues the more hopeless you start to feel. He is hoping that you just flat give up and quit trying.

First, if we quit things every time we felt like it we would rarely accomplish much. Secondly, you can’t run from your pain, but you do need to work through it appropriately. Thirdly, if God has carried you this far you can trust Him to carry you further. Let faith be your wings and keep taking the next God led step. We’re not called to figure things out, but to keep trusting God to work things out. No, we can’t see the other side of where we are now, but God is already there. God has a plan so don’t give up!

“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)

 

Update 4/2/18 I Still Believe

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I’ve literally only slept a few hours the past 48 hours. Even medicated it’s just not coming easy for me. My new, Big stimulator battery has really been hurting me a lot lately. It seems I now have two different corners pushing hard on my nerves. If it continues like this months from now I will gladly entertain switching it out for something smaller after I get my MRI God willing on April 12th. But, right now not being able to get quality rest isn’t helping anything. I’ve spent over 6 hours today alone in the tub. I’m back in it again trying to stop the itching in my hands and feet. It’s starting to get really old, but at least things are bearable. God has really been holding me together lately. I’ve concluded my greatest handicap from my standpoint is the fact that nothing ever seems easy or sounds fun anymore. My greatest prayer to God is to restore my quality of life. I still feel beyond blessed I’ve just got a lot of healing that needs to take place. And I’m still believing will come with time.

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

Garth Brooks Was Right

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Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. I’m so thankful for all the things I’ve prayed would happen that God made sure didn’t happen. Over time I’ve learned that only God’s plans flourish. I may feel compelled by my gut, but I can only trust my God. I may think something is best at the moment, but only God can see the bigger picture.

Thanks to many unanswered prayers my life continues to fall into place. God makes sure my needs are met. He keeps putting things in their rightful place and does things with perfect timing. He keeps guarding me from taking paths that aren’t meant to be. He keeps opening doors making it clear when to move forward.

You see, part of discovering God’s will is eliminating what is not. Thank you God for many unanswered prayers that have kept me from a world of trouble. Thank you for intervening when I thought I had things figured out. Thank you for leading me away from the wrong relationships and guiding me to the right ones. Heaven Father, I now fully trust you with every detail of my life. I’ve learned that success is only found through Your plans.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:21

A Behind The Scenes Angel

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She doesn’t like the spotlight. She does nothing for show and tell. She’s the least dramatic angel I’ve ever met. By the grace of God, I’m lucky enough to call her my wife and hopefully lifetime side kick. Even still she prefers to be the wind beneath my wings.

From morning until night she gives her best. She embodies unconditional love with every step she takes. She gives demanding nothing in return. When you need her most she is right by your side when others are nowhere to be found. Her name “Aimee” fits her perfectly meaning “Dearly Loved or Beloved.”

She consistently embodies love from above. She is patient when others would have long before their lost their cool. She is kind even when it’s far from deserved. She keeps no record of wrongs and just keeps loving me relentlessly. Instead of reacting to my thoughtless words her example simply gives me plenty to think about. She aims daily to bring a smile to others and she makes me smile daily. She is my angel and I thank God daily for Aimee “Love” Crosby.

“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[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

A Painful Work In Progress

Let em work Let em live

My body finally collapsed last night and with the help of some knock out meds gave me a whopping 4 hours sleep. The itching in my hands and feet from this nerve pain has been very bad. I spent over 4 hours straight in the hot tub yesterday evening, but I just don’t feel like staying in there every minute. I’m sure I’ll be back in there soon.

This pain can be blinding at times. In fact, I would be afraid to see someone dealing with this without faith. They would have to smoke something strong or keep swallowing something to numb the body and mind. It’s relentless. I wake up to it and go to bed with it. I would love to say something has changed, but the only thing that’s changed has been me.

I’ve learned how to cope a little better with the constant ups and downs. I’ve learned how to persevere through it most of the time. I’ve learned how to ask for help often, otherwise I would have long given up. I have learned to do whatever it takes to take care of myself. It sounds selfish, but most of my life revolves around the consideration of my health mind, body, and soul. While my humanity can’t be hidden Godliness is being developed day by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Philippians 2:13

He Never Promised A Bed Of Roses

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I spend two thirds of my life in a bed or hot tub due to this failing body of mine. It appears that even with the best of meds solid sleep is rarely found. My entire body throbs constantly and it gets very old fighting with it. However, the devil is crazy if he thinks I’m gonna give up the fight.

We all go through difficult tests and seasons when we feel like giving up. Satan is hoping these seasons take us off the course God has planned for us. God is is hoping we stay the course learning to trust Him no matter the season. Satan is hoping we let these times define us. Jesus hopes we allow God to refine us.

Through tears, heartache, suffering, and moments you just don’t feel you can take anymore. Fix your eyes on Jesus who endured hardship, stayed God’s course, and won the victory. We too if we stay the course and keep the faith will overcome all that comes our way. For even when we can’t carry on Jesus will carry us.

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

What Went Wrong Last Night

Anxious Thinking

So I discovered why I couldn’t sleep last night. When I went to take my morning meds I realized I had never taken my nighttime nerve pain meds. That never happens with all the alarms I set. So, it had been over 17 hours since I had taken my nerve meds and I’m used to taking them every 8 hours. And while I had taken 2 muscle relaxers last night my body simply can’t function without my medicine.

I’ve had to drink so much caffeine this morning in order to preach 3 back to back services. I only slept 1 1/2 hours last night so it was by the grace of God I made it through. I’m hurting so bad just from standing up. Little sleep and caffeine only intensifies my flared up nerve pain. So I’m back tub.

But, I’m glad God has given me something I can do to make a difference. I’m convinced that just being able to preach every Sunday has kept me from living in darkness. We all need things that keep our mind off the pain. While I’m totally exhausted I’m also grateful for every life touched. I’m simply honored that God woke me up another day to live for His glory! #JustBrokenNotHopless

No Coincidence: I See A Pattern

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I’ll never forget a lady coming up to me after a worship service. She said, “Pastor Craig, the devil doesn’t have but a few outfits. Figure out what he is wearing and recognize it.” While I never heard it put that way before it made a lot of sense. The devil really is rather predictable if you’re staying alert to his patterns.

For instance, he looks for any way he can to deceive, discourage, and destroy you. He preys on your weakest areas for sure. He takes life’s most stressful moments then heaps more rocks on top of you. He is hoping it shatters your faith, steals your joy, and makes you believe there is no hope.

I’ve noticed a pattern every Saturday night. It’s the only night I need sleep the most before I head out to preach on Sunday morning. Is it coincidence or the enemy looking for a window to pounce? It never fails that I can’t even count one sheep or depend on my meds to put me to sleep like normal. As I sit here in this tub I’m reminded it’s a spiritual battle. One that is won on your praying knees not by human efforts.

So, here I go again recognizing the enemy and running to my savior. Lord have mercy on my body. Settle my mind, body, nerves and soul so I can rest.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Way Beyond Me

Off My Chest

I believe God calls us all to do things that apart from Him are doomed to fail. It just becomes more obvious when our limitations keep staring us in the face. For instance, I can hardly do anything now without sucking air, feeling like I’m falling apart, and just minutes in knowing I have to take a timeout. I constantly feel like the man in the wheelchair watching everyone else do the work.

I had no idea when God gave me such a big vision to start a church that my entire health would fail. However, I’m starting to see that none of it has taken God but surprise. In fact, it appears to be a huge part of God’s plans. It’s no wonder that in the midst of my greatest limitations God is doing things beyond my imagination. I always knew God would do things in a way that only He could get the glory.

All I have to offer right now is a clear vision and mission to my church. Piece by piece God is putting together an unstoppable body of believers. In fact, we have more leaders at our church now than many have people in their entire church. God is raising up an army despite this wounded warrior. I now know why God put it heavy on my heart 5 weeks ago that “I must decrease and He must increase.”

I’m so glad God got me out of His way. Otherwise I would have never seen the exciting season Refuge Church is experiencing. As a result so many more souls will be reached and cared for personally. When my legs left me God provided servants to carry things forward. When my arms failed God put into place others who can be His hands and feet. When my body fell apart God was then able to assemble the true body of Christ. I’m doing what I can daily, but I’m realizing I can totally trust God with the rest.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

Purposeful Pain

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The longer you live the more you will endure much pain. Jesus warned us that this life would be full of troubles and sorrows. Pain comes in many forms. Obviously there is physical, but I believe the toughest things are mentally and emotionally painful. One thing for sure is Jesus can relate to them all.

Jesus was constantly misunderstood, used for his superpowers, and betrayed by his closest friends. His entire life he was running for his very life. A man who only cared and loved everyone unconditionally was ultimately sentenced to die on a cross. He was beaten so relentlessly and hurting so bad he wished he was dead.

However, it got much worse as he allowed roman soldiers to drive nails through his hands and feet as his body hung in complete agony on a cross he didn’t deserve. He knew this was sinful man’s only hope. So he endured the pain and purposely died a criminal’s death so all who believe in Him might have eternal hope.

I know I have pains in my life and I’m sure you do as well. In our hands they’re nothing but a handful. But, in God’s hands even our pain is used to touch lives and bring God glory. We many not understand it all or enjoy any of it. But, God often used our pain to accomplish His deliberate plans through our livestock

“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.”
Acts 2:23

Just One More Night

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It’s 2am and I wish I was even close to going to sleep. My nighttime meds have failed me and my nerve pain has made me totally at it’s mercy again. Seems like just another night of my hands itching and my body aching. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been at this crossroads forever.

However, I’m trying to make it through just one more night. I’ve learned you can’t focus on what didn’t go right in the past and what might go wrong in the future. You’ve just got to rely on and trust in God to carry you through the next moment. And while you learn the significance of patience it doesn’t mean you don’t have the same old feelings.

I’m know satan just hopes I’ll just give up. That I will just quit trusting in God and believing God for my miracle. What satan needs to understand is this is just increasing my faith. Sure, it’s one more night of pain and discomfort. But, I’m paying attention to 915 straight nights God has carried me through the seemingly unbearable. God I trust you for night number 916.

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

GOD DID IT AGAIN

Victory In The Cross

“Oh Victory In Jesus, My Savior Forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood!”

Late this afternoon I got the call and news I’ve been praying for the past week. On April 12th 8am @ MUSC Hospital. I will without a doubt become the first person ever at that location to get an MRI with my volume of inside hardware. They are basically having to take the MRI machine down to it’s lowest setting possible. Otherwise the coils would be too hot and could burn all the tissue inside me connected to any of my leads, paddles and battery.

All glory to God! This is one giant step forward for me. But, I’m also excited that God opening this door for me will open the door for countless others. It’s no fun having something you need implanted only to find out you can’t get other things checked as promised beforehand. There was a lot that had to be done to make this happen.

The last days have been very stressful on my body. My nerve pain has been flaring head to toe. It’s so easily escalated by just about anything. So, the good news was healing for my soul. Plus, my nighttime meds have calmed things quite a bit. Hopefully I get some sleep tonight as I’m very grateful for all God has done!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

God Use It

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Often on here, I’m just prayerfully processing from the gutter. I figure my God story won’t be complete if it doesn’t include the good, bad and ugly. I’m still waiting on my meds to make me comfortable enough to rest. Once again it feels like I’ve got ice water running through my veins. And I certainly don’t mean that in a good way.

There are times I wonder, what if I’m left to feel like this or worse the rest of my life. Then what? Not only do I not enjoy thinking about that possibility I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I knew all hope was gone. Sure, I know no matter what God has a plan. But, it’s dealing with the long term misery I can’t get my head fully around. At least not at this age and season of my life.

Most of the time I feel either on fire with nerve pain or just broken all over. Finding ways for God to use this valley is critical for me. Believing it is purposeful motivates me to keep the faith. I’m praying and believing that one day I will look back and see clearly how far I’ve come. But, for now I’m just at this seemingly forever bus stop while feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I’m just begging to use every struggle.

“But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:4

Do I Have An Identity Crisis?

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I’ve been reading the last few weeks a book that has really spoken to my heart. It’s called “When Your World Falls Apart” by Dr. David Jeremiah. I’ve realized that I really didn’t even know what I was made of until my world as I knew it literally flipped upside down 30 months ago. I thought I had been through tougher seasons before, but I was wrong. I definitely thought my world would already be back back in normal order by now.

Nope, here I am still only a third of the person I used to be. I’m no longer able to work my former hospice chaplain position. I’m no longer able to pastor like I used to do. I’m no longer able to be there for others the way I used to do. Quite honestly it’s all I can do to preach once a week. I’ve missed a couple months of even doing that due to all my surgeries the past 2 years.

By the grace of God I’m still standing. What I’ve realized over time is just how important it is that we don’t get our identity confused with any position, season or perception. Your identity has be built around who you are in Christ. Because any other identity is subject to change. Your job, relationships, and even your personal abilities. Trust me, if underneath you have an identity crisis it will reveal itself with time. So make sure you base your identity on the only one who will never change Jesus Christ.

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

Exhausted But Not Hopeless

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Well, my body allowed me to sleep a little over 3 hours and now I’m back up. Not feeling the best physically after what was just one of those days you would rather forget. Trust me when I tell you that I’m doing all that can be done to deal with my many battles concerning my health and future. There are many battles in life that leave you fighting for strength, scratching your head, and wondering where this or that might lead. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating until the day God calls me home. FAITH IS – doing all you can while trusting God for all that you can’t. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I don’t plan to stop. But, we all know that many things life brings our way don’t give us any choice. Many of the greatest battles like unexpected health issues, tragedy, loss of a loved one, or a relationship gone wrong were never things we invited or wanted in our lives. Therefore, we can’t control many things. All we can do is ask and allow God to lead us through everything.
 
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

I Want To Jump Off A Bridge

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There is no way I can fully describe today’s doctor visit in just one article. Thank God for a great friend driving me an hour there and back. I desperately needed someone who at least is trying to understand my situation. Earlier I went to see my pain specialist and just as I expected absolutely nothing was accomplished. Well, actually they did a great job of raising my blood pressure and testing every nerve within my body.

Things got cooking while I’m talking to my case manager in the lobby beforehand who told me I really could use some patience. That most with my stimulator aren’t even trying to get an MRI. That I’m basically just being difficult wanting the device I have to be MRI friendly even though I was told often in advance that it would be. Honestly, I did all I could to not go Pentecostal on her in a bad way. I did tell her that I knew today would be another totally wasted visit and I was exhausted from being up most of the night due to my stimulator battery poking me.

I was then called back for a surprise drug test. I told the nice lady assisting me that I was actually excited about this test. Because I knew I would get a perfect score considering you will rarely run into anyone in my condition who does not take either narcotics or much heavier drugs. You can bet I made sure I personally signed the label of the sample they were testing. But, it’s just another day of playing both patient and defendant. I know I’m paying big time for so many dishonest souls out there before me.

Then, it’s finally time to see my doctor. I discover quickly that I’m once again not even going to see him, but only his assistant. How was he going to evaluate my battery site if he never looked at it? How would he answer face to face all my questions concerning a stimulator he ordered to be put in me? You see, he didn’t even know all the issues I was even having with the battery or that I had to get a new one that was MRI friendly. I wanted the man who sold me on this total MRI friendly device to have to answer me face to face.

After demanding that the doctor himself step in they agreed. He came in with his familiar smirk and normal no solutions. I literally had to catch him up on everything. His response to practically everything was don’t worry about any of it they will get it figured out. Then, he too acted like it was no big deal that I expected the implanted devices to be MRI friendly just as he promised to countless others who are in for a rude awakening at some point. He never acknowledged any misleading or apologized for any mistake. He just looked anxious to drive out in his Porsche parked behind the building ASAP. Keep in mind this is only the 4th time I’ve even seen this actual doctor out of at least 10 different visits to his office.

I left away once again with nerve pain running all throughout my body and not an ounce of understanding or compassion coming from that office. Nothing was resolved and nothing was even given to me. I get all my meds from my surgeon because my so called pain specialist doesn’t believe I need any meds along with the stimulator. Understand my stimulator alone gives me at best 20 percent of any pain relief I receive. I couldn’t even get up out my bed without my daily nerve pain meds.

I could tell satan was still seeking to steal my joy and take away my hope. However, I believe wholeheartedly that if you do what’s right in God’s eyes you can’t go wrong. One last time my case manager said I needed to have patience as if the past 30 months of nonstop chaos doesn’t count.

I’ve literally never gone to this doctor in well over a year that anything was ever accomplished. Yes, I received a spinal cord stimulator referral but outside of that I’ve only been told I’m over medicated, need to give things time, and it all will work out. The Lord above knows I’m doing my part in actions, attitude, boundaries, and lots of prayer. Sometimes you’ve got to just recognize the battle is bigger than you and you can’t fight things by yourself. Then, you’ve got to trust God to fight for you before you’re compelled to jump off a bridge. What a journey? What a test? And, when it’s over what a testimony I will have to glorify God! The Lord just keeps  bringing me back to this verse as my nerves are fried.

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

Pierced For Me

Jesus on the cross

According to my Fitbit I’ve slept 5 hours, but my exhausted body has been laying down much longer. Besides the normal itching nerve pain is something much more painful. It’s clear that my big, recently implanted new stimulator battery has officially shifted. I noticed a painful change this past Saturday after going for a much needed walk.

However, now it feels more like the end of a drill is trying to poke out of my back. One corner of the battery is pushing hard right on the still healing and very sensitive incision. I already had reasons I could not lay long on my lower back, but now add to that my right side. My patience is running thin especially while my battery is truly becoming more of a thorn in my flesh. It’s like a nightmare that never ends and constantly keeps you uncomfortable.

I woke up this morning finally just nauseous from the continuous stabbing in my right side. I can’t imagine what Jesus endured for me on that cross. How could he endure such nonstop pain? How could he let them beat him until his body was absolutely raw? How could he let them break every bone in his body? How could he swallow nails driven into both his hands and feet? Only pure love for you and me!

“He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsa that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
Isaiah 53:3-7

Health Update 3/28/18

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

Besides still spending plenty of time in the tub I’ve discovered a little that still appears hopeful. Today s friend will take me to my pain specialist. The doctor I will be seeing has not seen or talked to me since I found out I had to change about my stimulator battery for full MRI comparability. However, this doctor is the one who actually got me to get the stimulator and said it was all MRI compatible. This should be some interesting conversation.

Until then hear is what I’ve learned from stimulator rep who continues to look for a place that can do my MRI. He said,
“As of right now it looks like Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Tidelands hospital system in Murrells Inlet and MUSC all have the proper equipment. To ensure that you are not turned away again we have to do educational calls with our MRI team and each facility individually and get everyone on the same page. This is something I am working on and will be moving along as fast as I can schedule these meetings.”

GOD HAS THIS UNDER CONTROL!

I Never Fully Realized It’s Power

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The Bible says that anyone who truly believes in Jesus is promised the Holy Spirit. In fact, it clearly states that anyone without the Spirit of God living in them doesn’t know God. Now, I’ve known and believed that truth for a long time. I’ve had countless times I felt God’s spirit leading and comforting me. But, it’s only been in the last month that I’ve fully realized the power living inside of me.

Seemingly overnight I discovered a connection like never before. It’s as if I have to direct connection with God all the time. He keeps flooding things to my heart and mind. He keeps giving me just the right words to say. Like pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat is the power flowing through my veins.

I can now tell that God is always with me. Whispering in my ear secrets that I could never discover otherwise. Reminding me of truths that calm my soul and add flames to my faith. All I do is pray and seek God with all my heart and I’m constantly led to take the next right step. It’s as if someone has cleared debris that once clogged my deeper connection with God.

Now,  I know I’ve got this constant advocate that keeps guiding me to say things, do things, and know things that I could never discover otherwise. Honestly, I realize I was living a limited Christian life before and now thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit I’m now on the unlimited track. The Holy Spirit now helps me overcome all fear and conquer everything by faith. It breathes soundness to my mind and calmness to my soul.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

“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