Category Archives: Trials

My Life With Chronic Illness

Last year, I was diagnosed with Elhers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS effects my body’s college production and leaves all of my connective tissues – mainly my joints, feeling weak and hypermobile. I’m constantly in pain, and yet I get accused of being whiney or dramatic.   
I have had joint pains my entire life. As a kid, I was told that it was just growing pains. I learned to understand that being in pain was just my normal, and I didn’t know for a long time that it wasn’t normal for everyone. I have already undergone 4 surgeries and have at least 1 more surgery pending. 

  
Most recently, after 6 weeks of intense headaches and random vision disturbances, I went to the eye doctor for a routine eye exam and he sent me straight to the ER. My optic nerves were swollen and bleeding. The last few days have been a whirlwind and I received a diagnosis of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC). With PTC, my brain is essentially reacting like I have a tumor, but there is no tumor. I’ve had two ER visits in the last 48 hours and have lost part of vision (hopefully only temporary). 

  
I feel like there’s something wrong with me. I keep asking why this is happening to me. I ask why I’m in so much pain. But no one can really tell me….it’s just the luck of the draw.

  
Chronic illness and chronic pain are miserable. No one understands it. People think I look fine, so I should feel fine…but most of the time I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. 

  
Today, I’m in incredible pain from a lumbar puncture. I want to feel “normal” and not be in so much pain. I want to function at my normal level or productivity…but I simply can’t. 

  
Some days are good and some days are bad. I feel like my life is like a wheel of future, I never know where it’s going to stop. 

  
I often have to cancel plans with friends because my pain level gets too high. Or I struggle to get out of bed because it hurts to move.

  
So, I ask you to stop thinking I’m whiney or dramatic and understand that my life is much, much different than yours.


Expect the Unexpected

It’s so frustrating when life takes an unexpected turn that you weren’t prepared for. This past week has been a rough one for me – for our whole family. Emotions are swirling around me in a chaotic whirlwind and I’ve simply been trying to keep my head above water.

Over this past weekend, we had to make the very hard decision to put down our precious puppy dog. He’s such a sweet boy and we love him dearly. He’s great with the kids and he’s so loving and affectionate and we are so heart broken to have to say good bye.

After spending most of Sunday in tears over having to make this decision, Monday turned out to not be much better.

Monday, my husband called me to inform me that he was going to be deploying soon…VERY soon. My heart sank and I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. It was like someone had reached into my chest and literally stolen the breath right out of my lungs. I sat in my car and sobbed as I was just overwhelmed by fear. I called a friend, and I’m pretty sure she probably had a hard time understanding me through my hysterical sobs. I tend to live and die by my emotions, so I’m very thankful for friends who are willing to interrupt my chaotic feelings with truth and reason (even though I would never admit that to them).

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Now that I’ve calmed down over the initial shock of re-entering into a season of deployment, I’m beginning to understand the importance of the mission my husband is being called to do…even though I don’t like it one bit.

So then, yesterday, I went to see my surgeon for a follow up from my sesamoidectomy, almost 8 weeks ago. He is pleased with my progress and how well my foot in healing. However, I also had an ingrown toenail (in the surgery foot) that had to be cut out. I also had some concerns about some pain I was having on the top of my foot and he told me that, because I am have been walking on the side of my foot instead of evenly distributing weight through my foot, I am quickly on my way to a stress fracture if I don’t correct my gait – so I’ll be starting physical therapy next week. And if that’s not enough, he also told me that because of the drastic instability of both my ankles, he wants me to consider a brostrom procedure on both ankles to help stabilize them. I’m a bit anxious about the thought of another surgery, but I’m considering it because if I go through with it, I will be able to run again without such a high risk of injury.

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So life this week has been chaotic and I’ll be happy when things settle down. But I’m also very thankful for where I’m at and where I’ve been and how God is going to use me from here.

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The Author of My Story

Truth: I really didn’t want to go to church this morning. I got woken up early this morning and by the time it came time to get ready for church, all I could think was how much I didn’t feel like being around people. I’ve been in a slump lately. It’s been a crazy roller coaster of ups and downs and it has left my emotions feeling strung out and tired.

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So I went to church anyway. I sucked up my anxieties, packed the kids up in the car, and we went. I sat in the same spot I always do and I stared down at my phone in my lap in hopes that no one would try to talk to me. My motto: don’t make eye contact with anyone.

Then we started singing. Worship always softens my heart. It’s impossible to honestly worship God and NOT feel something.

“Lift us up, for we are heavy laden,
only need and brokenness we bring.
You alone can rescue us falling
We are weak, but You are strong
Lift us up.”

Those words rang so true in my heart as I sang them. I was singing out to a mighty God to lift me up. I often feel like I’m falling, like I’m going to crash and burn in the rubble of my sin and I know that only He can lift me up.

My pastor is doing this series through Galatians right now. Last week, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t go to church because I had read the passage that he was going to be preaching on and it was so very applicable to my life that I REALLY didn’t want to hear the sermon on it because I knew it would leave me feeling convicted about my secret sins. So this morning’s sermon was titled “God Centered Story” and one of the first things he asked was, what centers us and guides us? (I’m paraphrasing from my notes, of course). Clearly, the good, Christian answer to that question is God…and that’s what I wish my answer was. But if I’m totally honest, what centers and guides me in life is my desire to avoid dealing with or feeling my emotions. If I’m totally honest, I don’t really trust God with my life.

We all have different stories. We all come from different backgrounds and have different biases, but for believers in Christ our stories all share one very big similarity – we were wrong and God intervened. God is the author of our stories. He is writing a beautiful story from the ashes of my life.

My story began almost 27 years ago. My story has taken me through joy and grief, happiness and sadness, blessings and curses. My story has led me to do whatever I could do to find immediate relief from my pain. But one big lesson I have learned is that Jesus is WAY better than any of the immediate relief that I have searched for. Jesus is so much better than trying to bury my emotions deep inside my heart. Jesus is infinitely better than any of the “quick fixes” that I come up with on my own. Jesus is so much better and I am NOT the only one who struggles to trust Him.

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God knew me before I was born…I really struggle with this concept. I have always wondered, if God really knew me before I was born, if He really knew my life before it happened, then why did He give me life knowing how much pain I would experience. But I am not God and who am I, as the created, to question the Creator. He chose ME! Me, a broken and wounded sinner – He chose me. He knew that I would walk away from Him and deny Him on countless occasions, but He still chose me. He called me by His grace. I have nothing to bring to Him, just like the song says, “only need and brokenness” I bring. But somehow it pleased Him to show me grace.

You see, if you’ve followed this blog for very long or if you know me at all, I’m sure you know that I tend to shy away from asking for help. I tend to convince myself that I can make it through life on my own accord without God’s help…now, clearly, we all know I’m wrong. Doing life on my own leaves me dead and isolated in my sin. I get scared and trapped by the shame and guilt of my past. But in His infinite grace and mercy, He searches me out and saves me every time (see Luke 19:10).

I get frustrated with God quite frequently because I don’t think my story looks the way it should. I don’t like the way my story has been written. But God didn’t ask me for my editing suggestions.

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I am still in the middle of my story. Pastor Dave used the analogy of doing a flip-turn (as in swimming). Being that I am a former swimmer who loved doing flip-turns, I very much loved this analogy. My story is still in progress. God, the Author, knows how it will end. My choice at this point is to trust that He loves me. This is where I can make a flip-turn and trust His grace. This is where I can let the love of Jesus direct me through the rest of this story.

On my own I am nothing, I have nothing. But with God, I need nothing. With God, I am much stronger than I think I am. I can quit turning to those things that have kept my secrets hidden. I can bring my secrets into the light and let God use those as a part of my story. He can, and He will, use my story to bring others to Him.

Like Joseph said Genesis, what you meant for evil, God will use for good. God never wastes a hurt. He is spinning all the ugliness and hurt in my life into a beautiful story centered on His grace, mercy, and love.

I’m not perfect. I struggle daily. But the Author of my story knows what He’s doing and I will trust He knows more than I do.

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Jesus, I Need You

You ever have one of those days where the enemy feels the need to remind you of every bad thing you’ve ever done in your life? Yup, today was one of those…this was my response – I had a talk with Jesus.

Jesus, I Need You
Here I stand broken
I’ve got nothing to bring
I’m holding on to the lies
Like a cat on a string
I’ve pierced my own skin
And denied Your truth
I’ve gotten lost in my mind
And I let go of You
Jesus, I need You

My stomach is empty
Poison courses my veins
My body is fading
I can’t handle this shame
You say You can reach
All the way out to me
But I feel just one step
Too far to be free
Jesus, I need You

If You know my heart
You know my evil thoughts
I once held on to You
But I let go and I’m lost
I’m trying to fight
The lies and temptations
But few things can compare
To power of starvation
Jesus, I need You

My sin is enclosing
Around my every side
The truth is fading
While I cling to the lies
I worthless and useless
You’ll never love me
The voices keep screaming
That You can’t save me
Am I too far gone
To receive Your grace
Your love and Your mercy
I’m just a disgrace
Jesus, I need You

I’m crying to You
As loud as I can
My ground has been shaken
And I can no longer stand
My voice, it cracks
As I beg You to answer
Because, Lord, if You don’t
My heart won’t endure
If You can’t save me
I have nothing left
The only choice I will have
Is to end it in death
Jesus, I need You

Then I heard Him…
“Daughter, You have me.
I’ve always been right here
So let me confront you with truth
In the midst of your fear
You are faced with two choices
Only you can make
You can wallow in pity
Or admit your mistakes
It comes down to one question
Do you believe
That I died on a cross
Nails in my hands and feet
I was scared too
Just like you are now
But even then I loved you
Enough to pour my blood out
You could never pay
The price of your own sin
My death on that cross
Is the only way You’ll see Him
I conquered death
And I took on satan
So that you could be free
From this life you are living
So tell me, is that enough
For you to trust
Will you stop fighting
And just give it up
Or are you gonna tell me
That my death was in vain
That I died on that cross
Just to feel the pain
I died for you
So that you could live
I’ve made your heart new
You’ve been forgiven
I didn’t deserve
The death I received
It was meant for you
But I took it on Me
So don’t you yet see
That I want to help you
If you’ll give me your hand
Just trust that I can rescue
You must make a choice
So what will you choose
My arms are always open
Just waiting for you.”

Jesus, I am so sorry
For my doubt and control
Please take it all
My heart, mind, and soul
I need you to heal me
I need your strength
I’m scared and confused
But I’ll trust what You say
Jesus, I need You


He is With Me

Sometimes she wonders
If she is alone
Living here on this earth
She’ll never be home
The pain and the heartache
Stings to her core
She cries and screams out
“I can’t take much more.”
She empties herself
At the foot of His cross
With a trembling voice
She whispers, “I’m lost.
Where do You want me?
What am I doing?
Day after day I feel
Like I’m headed for ruin
My body feels weak
And my emotions are numb
I’ve hidden for so long
The pain can’t be undone.”

Her words just pour out
She hopes that He’ll hear
The agony she is facing
From years of despair
Too scared to move
She can’t face this alone
He puts His hand on her shoulder
And says, “you’re not on your own.
Rest in Me
And let me carry you through
I love you, I saved you
I know you’re confused
When you are weak
I am your strength
When you are scared
You must simply have faith.
I’m always at your side
Even if you can’t see
You’ll know I’m here
If you’ll reach out for me.”

His words felt like peace
And in Him she collapsed
“I’m so tired of fighting
I can’t change the past.
I’m clinging to my life
And by that I’m dying
I say I’m okay
But I’m only lying.
Take me, hold me
I want to give up
Why do I keep trying
To be good enough.
If I was thinner
If I was pretty or smart
Then and then only
Would I have clean heart.”

With His arms around her
He comforts her cries
“Sweet child, I love you
Let go of the lies.
None of that is true
You must know by now
For your soul to be saved
I poured my love out.
The shame that you carry
Isn’t yours to bear
Let go, let me catch you
I know that you’re scared.
Your heart was broken
When you were so small
You vowed not to trust
Swore you’d never fall.
But, daughter, just look
Where has that gotten you
Your broken heart
As pushed away My truth.”

“I know that you’re right,”
She cried out to Him
“I’m afraid of my past
And of all my own sin.”

With His gentle hand
He wiped the tears from her eyes
With His arms around her
He showed her the truth from the lies
“We’re in this together
Lean on me in faith
Trust that I love you
That I’m with you each day.
I’ll never let you go
I’ll never let you drown
Trust me to carry you
Across shifting ground.
I have you in my hand
And I’m holding your heart
This life may hurt you
But we’ll never be apart.”


Mama Called the Doctor and the Doctor a Said…

“No more running.”

Those were the words Dr. Madden spoke that brought me to tears. As I sat in the exam room and we discussed my options – cast, boot, surgery, rest, crutches, I found myself so lost in my emotions. He held up my x-ray to the light and showed me the very clear image of my foot and the fibular sesamoid bone that is in two pieces. Then he pulled out the report for the bone scan. I knew all of this before going in to his office, but somehow I had hoped that maybe it wouldn’t be THAT bad.

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I sat on that exam table, tears and snot dripping from my face (I am not one of those women who cries cutely) and I asked him the same question every runner asks, “when can I run again?” He, of course, laughed at my question and then explained the recovery process to me.

I will run again one day. I will start back at square one, but I will run again. Running is something I have grown to love. I am a runner. Running is what I do. When life is chaotic – I run. When I am upset – I run. When I am happy – I run. When I need quiet time – I run. The answer is always “go for a run,” no matter what the question is.

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So here’s where I realize I have a problem. I was presented tonight with the question, “what is it about NOT running that is so terrible?” And boom! That’s where it hit me – I’ve idolized running. I’ve stopped trusting God for my salvation and I’ve been looking for it on my own through my success in running.

I never thought I could run, but once I started running, I took off and didn’t look back. So when I started having an achey pain in my right foot last August, I ignored it. When I finally went to the doctor they said it was a stress fracture. Then another doctor said it was just my shoes – I liked that answer better, so I bought new shoes and kept running…even though I was still in pain.

Then, as I was training for a half marathon I hurt my left foot. The initial diagnosis was stress fracture. Then it was osteochondritis defect lesion. Now, it’s tendonitis.

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Now that I’m seeing a podiatrist, I’m finally getting accurate care for my feet. It’s hard for me to accept that I cannot run right now and I’m literally grieving the temporary loss of my ability to run. It turns out that achey pain in my right foot from last year is a broken bone. So now, I am having surgery next month to remove my fibular sesamoid bone and 3-4 months after that I will be able to run again.

Running is wonderful. It’s good and healthy and freeing. But just like any other good thing in this world, when it becomes more important than God it is no longer a good thing.

My biggest problem though doesn’t even have anything to do with running. My biggest problem is that I’ve put God on the back seat of my life and let running take the wheel. Now, I look back to the cross.

In church this morning, my pastor said something to the effect of – when I’m having a hard time trusting God, I need to look back at what God has done in my life in the past. Which also reminds me of something a very sweet friend of mine told me about 2 years ago, “look at what God did then. He will do it again.”

I’m thankful for sweet friends, a great small group, an awesome pastor, but mostly for a loving and faithful God who has given me more grace and mercy than I deserve.

I am scared of surgery. I am scared of not running again. I am scared of all the “what ifs”. But what I know is that no matter what, God is in control of it all. He already knows.

Yes, I am currently struggling to trust God because this is not how I want things to go. But in the midst of that struggle, I also know that He is helping me to trust Him more each day.


7-in-7 Day 6: Help Me

I’m at a loss for words
I just don’t know what to say
This world is broken
And I don’t know how to pray
It feels like it’s over
Like You’re not even here
I’m just trying to trust you
In this gut-wrenching fear

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief

You’re holding my life
You know my every moment
Even though now
I feel so forgotten
Where is Your hand
Why aren’t You moving
If life is a war-zone
This is a battle I’m losing

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief

Caught up in doubt
Confused by my fear
Are you weeping with me
I really can’t hear
I’m hoping for more
Longing for grace
Do I have faith to believe
That You’re in this place

Life or death
That’s the question at hand
Trust and doubt
I just don’t understand
To be blind or have vision
Help me to see
I can’t see like You do
Help my unbelief


7-in-7 Day 3: He Will Equip Me

Last night I had conversation
Trying to understand
Even when I doubt
God has a master plan
This conversation started
As most they often do
As I questioned my worth
And remembered the truth

“Why am I here?
What do you want with me?
I fail You all the time
You continue setting me free.
I’m just a broken sinner
I have nothing to offer You
I can give You my heart
But it’s been battered and bruised
You know the things
That I hide in my heart
And You know the shame
That’s torn me apart.
But You still call me
To follow Your lead
And You give me vision
That I might see.”

My Father is faithful
He’s loving and true
So it shouldn’t surprise me
That He’ll put me to use
“Your sins – I abhor them
I hate what you’ve seen
But the hurt that you’ve felt
Is what brought you to Me.
I’ve cried when you’ve cried
I’ve offered my love
My precious child
You are enough.
You won’t understand
The depth of My grace
All you need is love
And a child-like faith.
Love others like Me
Share the hope that you’ve found
Don’t wander this life
Without making a sound.
Your feelings will change
But I never do
Give Me your life
And I will equip you.”


Tragedy at Fort Hood

I remember when I was in 8th grade, there was a shooting at my sister’s high school – the school I would go to the following year. It was a terrifying experience. I remember some of my friends parents didn’t want them to go to that school anymore because of the shooting, but others were saying, “if it already happened once, it won’t happen again.”

Now, as the wife of a Fort Hood soldier, I can say that horrible, tragic things, like a shooting, can happen twice in the same place. You never think that something like this is going to happen once, definitely not twice. I mean, really, what were the odds?

Yesterday, as shots rang out on Fort Hood, I found myself thinking back to that school shooting thirteen years ago. I remembered how scared I was then for my sister as I wiped away my tears for my husband. My husband was okay – under lockdown on post. He was safe, but all I wanted was to have him home and put my arms around him. There are few things as heartbreaking and paralyzing as the thought that I’ll never see my beloved again.

As an Army wife, I’m prone to worry. I’m no stranger to the thoughts that my husband might not come home. But I’ve only ever had those worries during deployments. I never thought I’d have to worry like this when he was home.

A place like Fort Hood (and any other military installation) is a breeding ground for tragedy. There are so many soldiers who’ve come home from war and who will never be the same. These soldiers have seen and experienced things that many if us cannot even fathom. Tragedy happens every day at Fort Hood, we just don’t always see it. Tragedy happens as marriages fall apart due to PTSD or combat related stress. Tragedy happens when soldiers take their own lives. Tragedy happens when soldiers aren’t given the help they need. Tragedy and heartache are in the faces of the soldiers all around us every day.

This world is a scary place. Anything can happen, anywhere. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I would probably live my life in fear. Fear of the unknowns and what ifs. Anything can happen – anytime – anywhere. We don’t know what our futures hold or what pain we may face, but God does and gives us the grace we need for every day. Just when we think it’s gotten too hard, that this life is too much to deal with, He gives us the grace we need to get through the day.

Please join me in praying for the victims and their families (to include the shooter’s family), for the soldiers at Fort Hood and soldiers everywhere else, for our community, and for our nation.

Yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life and words can’t describe how thankful I am that my family is safe. It’s definitely a reminder of what’s really important and how much of our worries are really insignificant.


Miscarriage vs. Abortion

I haven’t written a “compare and contrast” essay since middle school, but I’ve had some thoughts weighing heavy on my mind and I can’t think of a better way to express them…so let’s compare and contrast two very tragic experiences – miscarriage vs. abortion.

On the one hand, abortion is a choice that a woman makes to willingly take the life of her unborn child and abortion is the unplanned, spontaneous loss of the baby. But on the other hand, abortion and miscarriage both result in a stopped heart beat and the loss of a life that was beautifully woven together by the hands of a creative God. They both result in a woman wondering what could’ve been.

Let me give you some examples:

A young wife found out she was pregnant, and although it was unexpected, she was thrilled by the thought of the new life growing inside of her. She touched her hand to her belly in excitement and anticipation of the changes that would take place in the coming months. The undeniable beauty of the pregnancy glow began to shine across her face as she filled with glorious anticipation.

Until the day she saw blood. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she tried to process what it meant; she already knew. She went to the emergency room while her heart cried out for God to protect the small life inside her. Minutes felt like hours as she sat in the waiting room with her knees to her chest, trying to hold back her sobs.

Finally, the moment of truth. She was lead to an exam room and the doctor brought in the ultrasound and he said the words she had been dreading.

“There is no heartbeat.”

The world around her seemed to go black. Doctors and nurses were still talking and doing their jobs. But she couldn’t make sense of any of it. The words, “no heartbeat”, were playing on repeat in her head. A nurse reached out and sympathetically touched her arm. She was startled back to reality by the touch and the tears started. Her hands slid down her abdomen to the same place they rested just a week before. Instead of life, she now felt a void – like a small piece of her heart was missing.

The process of an abortion is much different. Abortion requires the heart-wrenching choice to choose death over life. A choice that, at the time, may seem like the only answer. A choice that looks like an “easy out”. A choice that will stop the beating of a tiny heart. A choice that, like miscarriage, steals a piece of her heart.

I won’t go into as much detail here about what the scared, pregnant, college girl goes through as she decides the fate of her unborn child. I’ll let you read about the scars of abortion separately.

Abortion and miscarriage have nothing in common – until you look at the aftermath. The young wife who lost her baby at five weeks due to miscarriage is depressed and confused and angry at God. She does not understand why and she struggles with her doubt. But what may come as a shock to many, is the scared girl who chose to abort her baby at eleven weeks is also grieving.

The woman who chose abortion may not grieve immediately. She may not grieve for many years. But when she grieves, when she feels the weight of her choice, she will feel the same confusion and anger. When she grieves, she will trace her hands over her abdomen, feeling the place where her baby once rested soundly. She will crumble into a pile of regret.

I was both of these women. I was the scared woman in the emergency room who desperately wanted to hear the strong heart of my unborn baby beating under my belly. I was also the scared girl in the abortion clinic who just wanted to find a way out.

And in both situations, I grieved. I didn’t grieve my abortion for five years, but the grief was the same.

So what’s the difference between the five week old baby that I miscarried and the eleven week old babies that I aborted? One was wanted and one wasn’t – that’s it. They were both people. They were both little bodies that were, just like you and me, hand crafted by God for a reason and a purpose.

When I miscarried, I told friends and family what happened. I was given a lot of support, hugs, and prayers. But after my abortion I hid in silence for five years before I let myself grieve and when I did, I was still too ashamed to ask for much support.

The point I want to make in this is that, whether a child is lost due to miscarriage or abortion, or even still-birth, the life of ANY unborn child had value and purpose. A woman who aborted her baby and the woman who miscarried both have an equal right to grieve the loss of their babies.

The only answer to the grief, no matter the method of the loss, is the truth of the Gospel and the hope that can only be found the Christ. God can handle our doubts and our anger. The only choice we have, if we want to find true healing and not just a band aid, is to trust God with our deepest hurts.


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