Cancer Won’t Steal My Joy

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I thought it would be a great time to interview my beautiful niece, Nihlia Griffin who has a rare form of breast cancer. Be encouraged by her journey of ten plus years.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

nihlia griffin cancer wont steal my joy
Nihlia Griffin

I was diagnosed in April of 2007 with invasive ductal carcinoma. I had a mammogram in February everything was normal.   Woke up in April with a knot on my right breast the size of a golf ball.  I have always done my breast checks. I called my doctor and from that day my life forever changed. 

2. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

I have always had a strong faith.  I learned to depend on God more than I ever have in my life.  Cancer made me see life and death in a totally different way.    My life slowed down, and I felt everyone’s life carried on as usual.   I trust God more than I ever have in my life.  

3. Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

My turning point was after I woke up from having my breast removed. I knew my outward appearance would never be the same again. Losing my hair after my first round of chemo was nothing. But feeling my chest flat and seeing all the drain tubes coming out of my body. It took my breath. 

  You must take sponge baths until all the drain tubes are removed.  I remember the day the nurse removed all the bandages I did not want to look. When I got home that afternoon I undressed and looked in the mirror nothing was there my check was sunk in and I had all these stitches.  I sat in the tub and cried my eyes out.  I felt like I was not a woman anymore it has taken me years to overcome losing my breast.

After many reconstruction surgeries, My body kept rejecting the implants. I had to make a choice in August 2018. Do I want to live and enjoy life with my family? Or is having breast so important I willing to risk my life to have implants. 

4. What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

Psalm 42:1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. 

as a hart
Canacer can't steal my joy

I have always loved this verse.  If you watch an animal drink when they are thirsty. They try to drink the water so fast to get as much as they can.  Same with us we should absorb everything about GOD. Soak it in. Hold His Word close to your heart.  

5. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

Comfort comes from within and the faith I have in my Lord.

I have a great support system my family is awesome just knowing I have them is comfort.

NIhlia with her daughters cancer wont steal my joy
Nihlia with her daughters

6. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

I talk to a lot of women when they are diagnosed. Since I’ve been there done that, I am able to connect with them and encourage them through the long process.

*Nihlia is also an advocate for a group fighting against environmental issues in her town that are causing cancer.

7. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.

I am a very happy person. I did my best to not allow cancer to steal my joy.  If I found myself feeling down I would get up and do something like walking outside take a deep breath.   I was out of work for a long time from 2007-2011. 

Life is not about possessions

I learned a lot during that time. Life is not about possessions or having the biggest house, fancy car, or a lot of money. I learned to be satisfied where God had me. I kept telling myself there is a reason God is allowing this in my life.  I saw how problems in life had beat me down.  

Even though I had cancer I feel like God used that time to put me back together and help me find myself again.  When I was diagnosed with Cancer, I was coming out of a very abusive relationship. We do not understand why this is happening and why me Lord.  But I have learned God is in control, not me.  God always comes through for me. He has never let me down.  I learned to trust in God more than I ever have in my life. 

Preachers often say God is always on time. I understand that even more today.   Click To Tweet

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Nihlia Griffin Cancer wont steal my joy

Nihlia works as a customer service Rep at Global Partnership for Telehealth (GPT) is a nonprofit organization with a worldwide footprint that is based in Waycross, Georgia. GPT offers telehealth technology solutions and web-based platforms that bring much-needed healthcare resources to urban and rural communities with a focus on underserved areas. We work with school systems, hospitals, clinics, and health systems to connect people with health services.

Before cancer, she was a master cosmetologist. She has recently received the following certifications From Hometown Health University: Patient Access Specialist, Managed Care Professional Finance Counselor, and Certified Hospitality Specialist. She has also acquired several technical certifications and an associate degree in Bible Theology.


Finding New Creative Projects for Coping with Pain

I met Carrie through a mutual fibro group. When we chatted, she shared that she lives in Taiwan away from her family in Canada. My family lives all over the States but I can’t imagine being a continent away from my family. Continue below for Carrie’s story about her own journey of coping with pain.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Hi Mandy and Michele. Thanks so much for taking the time to feature my chronic pain story. I’m a Canadian expat in Taiwan. I moved to Asia in 2003 and lived in China for three years before moving to Taiwan in 2006. I’ve had chronic pain since I was a teenager.  

1. Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

Like most of us, I thought that the pain I was experiencing after working out or going for a run as normal. In my 20s, my pain started becoming much more noticeable and I attributed it to sports injuries such as shoulder and knee dislocations. Little did I know that those dislocations were a sign of something more sinister at play!  
 
When I brought my pain up with my docs and rehab specialists, especially for my knee injury, they said it was normal. After my recovery, I left for China to teach English. I fell in love with Asia and decided to stay, but during my time there, the pain I was experiencing in my back was getting worse by the day. Some days I’d wake up and couldn’t lift my arm or turn my head.  

Most days were miserable, but I put a smile on my face and kept enjoying life in a new country. I am a great pretender. Most people would never know I’m in pain when they look at me.  

Problems increase

In 2008, shortly before my wedding, I woke up and couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. We wondered if I’d actually be able to walk down the aisle and again, we chalked it up to sports because I was very active back then.  
 
Two months after my wedding, I woke up again in horrible pain in my legs and back. Both my knees had swelled up overnight, and of course, I thought that I had done something at the gym, so I went out for a walk and was soon calling my husband asking him to come and get me.  

In a Wheelchair

The next day, he took me to the ER, and by then, I was in a wheelchair for the first time in my life. This was the first time I remember the pain being so bad, it was intractable. Nothing helped. My knees were huge. The doctors had no idea why there was pain everywhere without a specific reason. 

They aspirated my knees and then said they suspected I had either RA or Ankylosing Spondylitis. I tested negative for RF factor, so they went with Ankylosing Spondylitis and sent me to another hospital where they had AS specialists. I received my AS diagnosis, which is a type of inflammatory and systemic spinal arthritis, in February 2009. This made sense because the pain was hitting everywhere in my body, but my spine was on fire from top to bottom.  

No One Prepared me For What Was to Come

 
Finally, I had an answer, but no one prepared me for what was coming.  
 
I was treated at the same hospital for four years successfully. In 2012, I entered remission and I thought, that’s it. Now I can go back to my life! 

But soon enough, the swelling returned and by July 2014, my health was a mess, the pain was back and it was much worse, AND my rheumy retired. I really liked him. He was the best rheumy I’ve ever had. 
 
That’s where things took a turn for the worse and I entered the system as a foreign patient in a Chinese health care system being bounced around from doctor to doctor at 37 years of age because ‘no one thought I should be that sick or in that much pain’.  

More Diagnoses

In late 2014, I received a Fibromyalgia diagnosis and an MECFS diagnosis and they started treating all three. And of course, once you have one autoimmune disease, they just keep piling on. Soon enough, I was having GI problems, eye problems, heart problems… There was no part of my body left unaffected. 
 
I lost everything – my career in music, my job, my ability to move or go to the gym, friends, family; it was utterly devastating. And on top of this, I had this never-ending intractable pain that has severely impacted my mental health with no options here for assistance in coping with what I am going through.  
 
At 45 years of age, I honestly can’t remember a day now without pain. I can’t even imagine what a day with no pain feels like anymore.

2. Throughout this time, how were you impacted emotionally?

Like most chronic pain patients, at some point, we learn that there are positives to living with pain. Those positives help to offset the negatives that we go through by living in pain.  

I’ve found that my personality has changed. I’m still friendly but much more reserved. Because of the pain, I’m scared to let anyone touch me because it hurts. I’m not the social butterfly I was before I got sick. I’ve had to learn what my limitations are and work hard at acceptance. I’m not as impatient. I’m better at waiting things out. (Because we have to wait for acute flares to end at some point.) I’m definitely more compassionate, and resilience – we all build resilience when we’re coping with issues that impact our lives so severely. 

Coping with Pain ~ Indoors

I’m mostly housebound, but I’ve found wonderful ways to keep myself occupied at home. If you had told me 20 years ago that I wouldn’t be able to leave my house much, I would’ve laughed and said impossible.  
 
Now when you enter my home, you can see that I’m a very active indoor gardener and there are art projects and books everywhere. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to patients who are newly diagnosed is to get those rainy day projects ready and keep adding to them. Having projects to work on helps immensely with coping. Also, build your support network because you will need it. Make sure to reach out to other patients. It’s other patients who have kept me updated or informed or who have sat up with me late at night when I can’t sleep because of pain. 

3. How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

On days where I am able to move, but I can’t leave my house, I enjoy indoor gardening. I also practice ikebana, the art of Japanese floral arranging, which is a really zen activity that isn’t too demanding. If it’s not too bad, like today, I’ll sit up and write. 
 
I love art and do all sorts of art projects. Art has had a huge and massively positive impact on my life. I can illustrate how I’m feeling through art, and it’s also a great coping technique to get your mind off the pain.  

On days that I’m stuck in bed, I rely on the usual: Netflix, art, reading, music, and playing with my cats. 


A comforting soak in the bath

Hot magnesium baths help a lot to ease sore achy muscles, so I try to soak three times a week. Any patient who contacts me for info, the first thing I mention is to get in the water and soak. Do it as much as you can. At first, I felt lazy and didn’t want to spend 30 minutes sitting in the bath, but eventually, it turned into something I genuinely enjoy doing and it’s excellent for my health. Hot baths also help me relax and sleep better. My home spa cocktail is:

  • 1 cup of Epsom salts,
  • ¼ cup of magnesium chloride flakes,
  • a squirt of sweet almond oil, and
  • a few drops of my favorite essential oils, like jasmine, lavender, or ylang-ylang. 

4. What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

I live abroad while my family is in Canada, and I got sick over here, so my family isn’t here to help. My mom calls a lot. I don’t know what I’d do without her. I have found I withdraw during super painful episodes, and she’s always there are the end of it so we can chat and catch up. It must be terrible having a child so sick and so far away. I feel so guilty being over here, but honestly, this is where I need to be specifically for healthcare and because my business is here.  

As for my friends here in Taiwan, they have all seen me go from a vibrant, active, contributing member of the expat community to someone who is sick all the time and very rarely leaves home. I lost a lot of friends who couldn’t cope with having a friend that never gets better, but the friends that have stayed in my life are so supportive. I am endlessly grateful to these people that try so hard to understand my life. 
 
They record silly videos for me or they’ll call from certain events so I can see what’s going on. Some of them drop by for a visit if I’m up to it. I tend to be really private at home though. I don’t usually encourage visitors unless I haven’t seen anyone for months. Sitting up with people in my home is just as exhausting as it is outside my home. I feel pressure to smile and pretend it’s not that bad because I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. 
 
My online friends who are also sick – the support I receive from them is never-ending and that is such a blessing in my life. I’ve had pen friends all my life, but social media makes it much easier to stay in touch and share. With friends around the world, someone is always up and willing to chat if I need them. I’m also in a few support groups that I admin where we ensure that someone in the group is always online to help others in need.  

Sometimes all we need is someone to commiserate with or to hear from someone who understands exactly what you’re going through. 

5. Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

I’ve been involved in community service since my 20s in every country I’ve lived in. I’ve recently left the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan because I’m too sick now to attend events in person, but I participate online. I’m also part of an active community of approximately 3,000 women in Taipei that I’ve been a part of for the past five years. It’s a great group of girls! 
 
Finally,  I’m very active in health advocacy and online awareness. I’m an admin for a massive group of women with fibro and AS. I’ve done that for five years and have made strong friendships within the group. My Several Worlds has been listed as a Best Blog in Fibromyalgia with Healthline for the past three years, and I’ve been recognized as a finalist with WEGO Health in 2020 for their Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m thrilled because I pour a lot of energy (and heartbreak) into my website. 
 
I’ve been writing about this journey since 2009 at My Several Worlds. Feel free to stop by and have a read through the 800+ articles I’ve written for my readers. 
 
My goal in Taiwan is to create a safe space for people in pain where they can meet and talk about their pain. Taiwan does not offer much in the way of support for patients in pain, or the mental health issues that come with coping from daily trauma. 

6. Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.

  1. There is always someone out there who understands and gets it.  
  2. You are never alone.
  3. Get involved with online support groups.
  4. Educate yourself and read as much as possible to better understand how you can live with and cope with your pain.
  5. Talk about your pain.

A story about chronic pain is best told from a patient’s perspective. I’m always here to listen and support as needed. 

Find creative project to Combat your pain #chronicpain #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet a Chronic Interview with Carrie Kellenberger Click To Tweet

Thanks so much, ladies! You can also catch up with me on my public

I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you!  

Carrie

Chronic Pain INterviews

Find Carrie at any of these social media sites

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Legacy Link-up is Live until Sept 30

God is There in these Shards of Ice

When I share about fibromyalgia, oftentimes is to women. And it’s true the majority of people with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues are women. But there are men that suffer as well. (And I’m not talking about our husbands. ha!)

I recently met Jonathan Thorn. When I heard his story I decided it was time to hear about chronic pain from the viewpoint of a male. Jonathan is a stay-at-home dad working on his masters in Mental Health Counseling. Wow! Kudos to Jonathan! Come meet him with me…

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay
Shards of Ice; hupomone

Hello Jonathan. Will you share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What are your diagnoses? Tell us about your journey towards a diagnosis?

      My journey has been tremendously impacted over the past 10 years…

      In January 2010 I was coming off my night shift. On my way home I was making a left-hand turn per the light. I did not notice the box truck barreling toward me at 60 mph. He hit me and crushed my car. He was drunk with no license or insurance and injured his two young daughters in the back.

Brain Injuries

The Traumatic Brain Injury caused daily unrelenting severe migraines. In the fall of 2012, I experienced the first of four TIA’s/Strokes. The final one in March of 2013 took part of my sight permanently, stole some memories, twisted my intestines, and made it almost impossible to walk. With my right side weakened I had pneumonia 8 times that year and was in the hospital ER over 20 times.

Breathing Issues

Breathing became an issue doctors had me on nebulizers and inhalers multiple times a day. They did one test after another after a year they discovered I had nerve damage between my ribs. It was decided to put a neuro stem unit in my back with wires throughout my ribs so I could breathe.

Nerve Damage

During the recovery, I fell and tore my Planters tendon which led to permanent nerve damage in my right ankle. I have TBI, TMJ, severe migraine, nerve damage in my ribs and ankle, Tietze syndrome, arthritis. Carpal tunnel, hearing loss, tinnitus, and partial eyesight loss. This is on top of my Elhor’s Danlos syndrome which dislodges my ribs, shoulders, knees, and elbows every so often.

The Past Ten Years

Consequently, Over the past ten years, I have had over 650 injections and have had visits for myself to the ER no less than four times every year over the past seven years (this year is the first with none so far). My condition is complex, and I struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Because of these problems I have lost three jobs.

What a trial! I can’t imagine dealing with so many struggles. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

More Struggles

I am not great. I do not believe that true strength is something we can have in ourselves but in God alone. I am only a man who has had many weaknesses and found greater strength in God alone.

There hardly was a time I did not struggle. For the crucible I walked in was constant. I did not just walk in pain but through also through my wife’s miscarriage, and the loss of two jobs. Many times, I got angry at God. Many times, I was mad about being hit one more time with one new health or financial problems.

Encouraged by Men of the Bible

  • One story in the Bible stuck with me and that was with Jacob wrestling with God.
  • I found Jacob’s zeal to not letting go of the true fight with God inspired me to do the same.
  • First Timothy talks about fighting the good fight.

I have been in spiritual battles against demoniacs and such. Those were easy compared to this. This fight in myself. This fight to recognize God over every trial. Jacob didn’t hold onto his sleep, his bed, or worry about all the other things he could have easily worried about. He held onto the One who he wanted to know, even when his hip hurt he held on.

It’s What You Hold On to

In the times of trials, it is easy to hold onto the pain, the loss, and the despair of it happening again. It is easy to get mad at the dreams and false hopes that were trampled upon. The question is do we hold onto hope or The True Hope that will never leave us or forsake us. I remember the dread of tests and shots and being sent to the Emergency Department one more time.

Every time despair drained in me. The fire licked at my feet and I felt like I was walking on the broken pieces of me. In those moments, I learned, that in that crucible, at that moment, to hold onto who I was walking through that fire with me. That was God. Hupomone.

Hold onto Who is walking through that fire with you Click To Tweet

Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

Placed There for a Reason

      After my second stroke, the doctors put me into the heart wing of the hospital as it was the only place to put me. When I was rolled into the room there was a man there. He was pale, as white as a ghost and had a raspy breath.

The doctors were trying to figure out why I have problems. This one of the lowest points in my journey. The neurologist came in and told me I was crazy and made my pregnant wife cry. He kept me at the hospital anyway for more tests and to figure out why I struggled. After the doctor and my wife left, I curled in a ball and cried. I felt stripped from anything that made me human; like a horrible person for putting people through this. I prayed.

Opportunities

The man on the other side of the room asked if I was okay. And we began to talk. We had breakfast and lunch and supper together. At one point the nurses came in to check on us as we were laughing so loud. God opened an opportunity for me to pray with him. He was already a believer, but the fellowship helped us both grow.

When I left the hospital, they pushed the wheelchair by the nurses’ station. The nurses stopped me. They said they thought this man was not going to make it but now it had seemed he was going to be fine.

God was there!

     I thanked God for the stroke because without it I would not have been in a place to minister to that man. It brought me to the place of understanding that though trials suck, God is there. We need only to be open to him and turn those trials into something for His glory.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

In the middle of the storm I do not look to the storm for peace but to God and in God for peace. He alone is my anchor and the stillness I need to walk through these shards of ice that beat my body. In my true being, I find Him alone. I see God who is over any flame or darkness through which I may walk. 

Beautiful. These are favorites of mine as well. So how do you find comfort on especially painful days?

Breakthrough Pain

God is my life. My center. My breath. Breakthrough pain is horrifying. It is crippling. Unexpected. Maddening. It feels like a tornado of icy glass is spinning around piercing me and trying to dig into who I am.

      When I get hit. I feel weak and tired. I struggle to breath and to expand my chest to find air for my lungs; curling up in a ball on the corner of my couch as pain tremors quake my body.

      When this floods me. I pull pillows around my chest. I bring myself inward and center myself, my True Self, my being on God who is in my heart. Knowing He never left me or forsaken me while my body broke my trust.

He was there.

I recognize the pain and let it go to God.

I anchor myself in Him with sure footing, one foot then another.

Then, in that place of peace, I find stillness in His presence.

My body is often very weakened after breakthrough pain to the point where it is hard to move even a finger. In those moments I try not to worry about moving but focus on God who is my life. My center. My breath.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

Amazing Friends and Family

      My family and friends have been amazing in my crucible. They have given me grace and forgiveness when I get snappy. I’ve been given an ear to talk to when I feel overwhelmed. They have reminded me of who I truly am as my peace parries with the pain. My friends and family have constantly asked if I need anything and at times protected me from doing things that may hurt me.

Pacing is hard.

Asking for help feels helpless.

They provided me a safe empowering place to just be me while I am broken into pieces.

Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

Being Who I AM

      I can only be who I am. I do not hide who I am. When I am in pain, I hold strong but when asked how I am, I answer truthfully. I share my tribulations openly.

But, with each turn, I focus on God. I share with others how God has held this body and my soul together when it is scattered and the winds in the storm have tried to shade me from all hope. Even in those darkest of times God has given opportunities to minister to others.

Online

I share my journey on Facebook and my blog. Many of my friends whom I have met on Facebook deal with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. My blog is a place where I encourage others in the faith who are facing trials.

God opens doors for ministry where we walk, we need only to be open to these. I have made bread for all my neighbors in my condo complex. This has given me the opportunity to pray with many of them.

At the store,

God opens up conversations with strangers who I am able to encourage and pray with. Many of these men and women have chronic pain and I am given the opportunity to encourage them.

In the ER

I have been in the ER many times and I pray for those sitting there and talk with them. God has even given me the opportunity to encourage and pray with nurses and doctors.

At Church

At church I was supposed to work on putting together a pain management group unfortunately COVID has delayed this.

Finally, Can you offer some words of encouragement to those searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey?

Hupomone

      My favorite Coine Greek word in the Bible is hupomone (the ‘e’ sounds like an ‘a’). It is translated into perseverance. But in a deeper study into this word, it means to turn your disadvantage into your advantage.

Romans 5:3-5, ‘Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us freely.’

Hupomone! turn your disadvantage into your advantage Click To Tweet

Hold On to True Hope

In our pain as it parries with peace hold onto True Hope. Let the pain be where it is as you hold onto what is greater. I know this is hard. I know the pain and how draining it is.

You have got this because God has got you. Keep walking through this valley of fire with the Lion of Judah beside you and in your heart.

Anchor yourself in Him who is in you who is greater than anything in the world. Our life comes from A Greater Hope.

You are loved always.

You are not alone in this fight.

Jonathan Thorn

Wow! Jonathan, You had me in tears of sorrow and joy and especially hope! Hupomone! Thank you for sharing your story with us

It’s Your Turn! Legacy Time

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Share your story of “Hupomone” in the link-up below. Or Contact Mandy about an Chronic Pain Interview.

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Names of God

Finding God in the Pain of Life

Do I Know Pain?

Finding God in the pain of life

Yes. I have known pain; as the short, fat girl who was always chosen last to years of chronic pain, to the pain of betrayal and deceit that crushes your soul. I have felt physical pain and emotional pain. But there is something else I have known – I am finding God has become my Faithful Friend.

Over the years, I have found God to come through no matter what kind of pain I might be experiencing. I like to share with you some of the things I have learned through my pain.

Finding God in The Early Years

In those early elementary years, I truly found him as a true friend and the Lifter of my Head. He chose me from the beginning of time as his child. I am grateful to have had an earthy father who showed me the love of The Father. My favorite place to be was in my Daddy’s lap. This helps me see myself, even now, climbing into my Father’s arms anytime and He holds me secure.

The Challenging Teen Years

In those challenging teen years, He showed Himself as my Creator. He gave my value when few others did. He was my Rock and my Deliverer when I was treated unfairly and My Refuge when I needed a place to run.

Early Adult Life

In college and early adulthood, I was far from home. He became my greatest teacher as I grew from trial to trial with grace upon grace. He kept me stable as an Anchor and my Sure Foundation when I wasn’t sure life was worth the trouble He became my Source of Life.

Family Life ~ Ministry Life

As a mother and pastor’s wife, He became my Overcomer as I learned new and sometimes hard lessons. He was my Refiner when I realized that I needed to change my attitude or improve my actions.

When my husband was betrayed by the church and we were turned away, we found Him to be our Promise Keeper, our Joy, our Protector, our Provider.

Finding God In Sickness

And now as I struggle with chronic pain, He is my Great Physician and Healer. Although physically, I haven’t been healed, my spirit is whole. “And He walks with me and talks with me and calls me His own.” He has become my Shepherd, as I quote Shepherd’s Psalm when I face sleepless nights or facing a painful injection or procedure. I recently found this new life verse:

Psalm 73:26; pain of life
created by Mandy in Canva.com

Through it all, He is the God that Sees Me. He knows exactly where I am and what is happening. He holds me in the palm of His hands. In fact, he has inscribed my name there and I am safe! (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Friend, No matter what pain you may be feeling today, I urge you to seek Him in your pain because He can be found just as He promised.

Feeling Your Pain,

Mandy Farmer

I had the privilege of writing more on this topic for Karen “Girl” Friday today. Click here to read more.

Free Downloadable

Visit Deborah Haddix who also wrote about the Names of Jesus this week. She offers a free downloadable Names of Jesus Study Challenge

light and temporary

When You Don’t See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Interviews with Chronic Pain Warriors #4

I know! It’s strange to write these words “light and momentary” when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the past year and now facing some heart issues. I sometimes wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at myself at 58 and then (judging from my family history) look forward to maybe 30 more years, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I wonder,

“Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?” #chronicpain #endurance #lightandmomentarytrouble Click To Tweet

“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.

So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

 And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)

And now Interview #4 with Terri Sutula.

light at the end of the tunnel

Terri is a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach who also lives with fibromyalgia and IBS. She has made it her mission to walk alongside others with fibromyalgia to help them find what works for them to help them thrive. Find our interview below.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Would you share the short story of your chronic pain journey? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

This is a little tough because I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have pain. Even as a child, I suffered debilitating headaches on a regular basis. Fast forward a few years, and I started having migraines in addition to the regular headaches.

Finally, when I was around 30, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. These things made my life difficult at times, but I retired after 20 years in the US Air Force, then went on to work as a Finance Officer of a small town, then as a Personal Trainer for about 6 years.

Where’s the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

In 2011, I started having widespread pain (as in, everything hurt, all over my body), severe abdominal pain, and lots of other strange symptoms. I could no longer work. Some lab results caused concern, but then when repeated, the labs came back normal. I just couldn’t understand how I could feel this horrible and not have something seriously wrong with me. At one point, I was spending my days in bed, just waiting for each day to be over.

Eventually, in 2012, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and IBS. It was actually a relief to have a name for what was going on. Once I realized I didn’t have something that was going to kill me, I got on with learning how to live my best life in spite of my illnesses.

What a long journey. Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?

When I was at my worst with my fibromyalgia symptoms, my relationship with the Lord was the closest it’s ever been. I had absolutely no strength of my own; I had to depend on His strength to even get through the day. The longer I live with it, the more I’ve learned to lean on Him for even the mundane things in life. He’s always there for us, through the big things and the small ones.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?

The scripture I mentioned below, Romans 8:28, has been a huge comfort for me because it reminds me that God is using this for my good in some way, but the one I cling to the most is Isaiah 41:10,

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

isaiah 41:10

One thing that has been especially difficult for me on this fibromyalgia journey has been the weakness I experience sometimes. There have been times that I wasn’t even sure my legs would hold me up, but I always know that when I’m weak, God is strong, and He will hold me up when I can’t hold myself up.

How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?

I remember that God is going to use this in some way. He never wastes any experience or difficulty we have. Romans 8:28 tells us,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

I firmly believe that, and that’s what helps me get through the really tough days.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

I’m fortunate to have family and friends who try to understand and make accommodations when my symptoms are not cooperating. My husband has really been a Godsend through all of this. He does everything he can to make my life as easy as possible.


Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this?

I consider my blog to be my ministry. When I first started experiencing all these weird symptoms and right after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I wanted some real, actionable tips for getting on with my life and I needed to reclaim my hope that I could still have a good life. Once I started figuring things out, I wanted to be that resource for others, Reclaiming HOPE was born.

In Conclusion, Can you offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey?

Sweet friend, I know this isn’t easy. I know there are some days that you feel you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you are not alone. You have others who have been where you are and who are willing to walk alongside you as you go through this.

And know that God is always there with you. He’s promised us in His Word that he’ll never leave us or forsake us. Life may not ever go back to the way it was, but you can still thrive in spite of your circumstances. You’ve got this!

Offering a light at the end of the tunnel,

~Terri

certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach 

Thank you, Terri, for sharing your story and these encouraging words.

Readers, I encourage you to comment below or connect with Terri on social media or her blog.

Mandy Farmer

It’s Your Turn

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pain is an opportunity

Chronic Pain Can Be a Powerful Opportunity

This Tuesday, May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness day. I thought it would be appropriate to share another encouraging post of how chronic warriors hang on to their faith to get through the worst of days.

I was greatly encouraged to hear Olivia Wolfertz story about her struggle with Lyme Disease. What an incredibly strong women she is. Please read on…

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. What is your diagnosis? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in May 2016. After several months or so of increasingly bizarre symptoms—chest pains, stiff neck, headaches, stabbing pains in arms and feet, and severe trouble walking, I was officially tested and diagnosed by a rheumatologist. I was fortunate that my diagnosis was relatively quick and that I had a positive Lyme disease test even by CDC criteria, as that is actually somewhat rare.

From there, I went on the pretty typical goose chase of finding the right Lyme-literate doctor and treatment combination. Unfortunately, even though I was treating my illness, symptoms continued to spread and expand to affect more and more of my body and mind. Throughout this four-year timeframe, I’ve seen several specialists and explored numerous treatment protocols ranging from conventional antibiotics and herbals to more unconventional methods like rife machines, essential oils, and now a nebulizer treatment. While I’ve seen tangible bouts of improvement and had seasons of “better days” in the mix, I continue to suffer daily with symptoms that largely impair and limit my life.

Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get Stronger?

Olivia Wolfertz #chronicpaininterviews
Oliva Wolfertz

At the start of my treatment journey, I felt a strong conviction that God had given me this illness very intentionally. I felt like this was God telling me it was my time to walk through one of my first “major trials,” as I had never before had a serious health issue before. At the time I thought I would go through it, get treated, get better and move on and be able to look back at it as a story of how I joyfully clung to God during a hard time.

I subconsciously was viewing it as a test and thought that if I just stayed positive and did my best to fully trust God, he would soon enough heal me, and then I would move on with life and have this story to encourage others with. I viewed it as very transactional if I’m being honest. Needless to say, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was getting into.

I didn't have the slightest idea what I was getting into… #chronic pain #lymedisease #interviews Click To Tweet

Little did I know at that time how devastating and long-term this illness would be or how much it would affect every other area of my life. I would say for the first two years or so, I wasn’t terribly worried about this being the rest of my life and I was able to trust God relatively well all things considered. Of course, there were many difficult battles and symptoms and challenging times that I struggled more, but I felt very supported in the beginning and continued to believe healing was around the next corner.

It wasn’t until probably three years in that I really started to experience more sobering doubts and struggles in my faith. Not only was I still not where I thought I would be after 3 years (still unable to work or be financially independent), but I was feeling a lot of new and difficult symptoms, including serious mental health and sleep struggles, that were very challenging to live with.

Not to mention I was getting emotionally exhausted from the day-to-day struggle. With my worsening symptoms, it became a lot harder to be regularly plugged into a community where I could be spiritually supported, and the isolation made everything a lot harder.

I also wrestled with a lot of shame over the fact that my life isn’t “normal” that affected my self-image and ability to make friends and be vulnerable. Even still, God provided the right people at the right time and sent me some incredibly supportive believers whose prayers were a huge factor in keeping my faith from crushing beneath the pain.

Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?

As I mentioned above, the anniversary of year three was a turning point where I really started to struggle with doubts and fears that this might actually be the rest of my life and I may never get better. When I realized I wasn’t even close to getting better or even if I was on the right track with treatments, I began to wrestle with anger and disillusionment towards God and a lot of fear that things would never change.

Accepting the Inevitable

I also began to realize that all that I lost might never come back—

  • financial independence,
  • the ability to take care of myself and work a full-time job,
  • live on my own or at least away from my parents,
  • be able to have a normal social life

-all of those things suddenly seemed like things that may never happen again. This realization was the beginning of a very dark season of depression and increasing hopelessness.

Letting Others In

What made the most difference in turning from despair to surrender and trust, though, was taking small steps to let people in my struggle more. Whether that was being honest about my doubts, struggles, or the extent to which I was feeling lonely or needing support, that act of humbling myself opened the door for more people to encourage me in ways I actually needed.

This was such a hard lesson and one that I likely will continually need to relearn, but God definitely wanted me to get to this point.

God definitely wanted me to get to this point. #lymesdisease #chronicpain Click To Tweet

Keeping a Strong Faith is Critical

Keeping a strong faith and hope is absolutely critical to fighting a chronic illness—but there are times where we can’t get there without inviting others in to help. Sometimes the struggles are too hard to emotionally or even spiritually deal with on our own and the turning point doesn’t come until others are invited in the mix and given the opportunity to pour their strength and hope into us. I continue to pray for a supportive community to walk through whatever my future has in store.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey? Why?

There have been several different scriptures that I’ve turned to during different stages of this journey. Here are some:

#sripturecomfort
#chronicpain
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7
  • 1 Peter 4:19
  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • Romans 4:18-22
  • Isaiah 40:29
  • Proverbs 15:15
  • Psalm 34:19

Not surprisingly these are all verses that shine a light on suffering or trials and trusting God’s deliverance. Widening my scriptural vocabulary to include more specific truths to apply to pain and suffering has made a huge difference in my outlook during rougher patches.

Sometimes when everything seems to be falling apart, it can be all too easy and natural to feed into self-pity, anger, and overall exhaustion with our circumstances. It can feel like we are at the end of our rope and don’t know how we will get through the next hour let alone the rest of our lives if things don’t change.

I’ve found it absolutely critical at those moments to turn to a verse like one of these and allow it to penetrate my despairing thoughts.  It does make a difference, and meditating on or carrying around these verses proactively help arm me so that I am more prepared when those despairing thoughts come and can be quicker to replace them with truths from Scripture.

How do you find comfort on especially painful days?

That’s a really tough question to answer and it definitely depends on the type of bad day I’m having. Sometimes a bad day might mean a ton of pain, in which case I will usually try to rest my body laying down but can find comfort in reading a good book or doing some Bible study if my mental energy is there.

Some days a bad day might mean an extreme excess of fatigue or dizziness or headaches in which case I am not up for reading or blogging or anything but can find comfort in closing my eyes and listening to a good podcast or sermon or take a bath. I find that this will be a good way to encourage my soul and heart even when I don’t have the energy or mental ability to read my Bible or an encouraging book.

Then a bad day might be where I feel more depression or anxiety or discouragement and something that brings me comfort on those types of bad days is talking with a friend or journaling my feelings or painting or getting fresh air if I am feeling up for that physically.

Chronic Pain  #opportunity
Olivia’s Painting

Painting has become an unexpected yet powerful channel for encouragement, as the feeling of tangibly creating something beautiful to share with others is rewarding when you feel like you can’t be productive in other areas of life.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?

The best things my friends or family can do for me during harder times are going out of their way to practically help me or take time to ask me how I am doing and listen to me. I live with my parents, so the best ways I feel comforted by them is when they respect my needs, whether that’s for space or independence or the freedom to not be okay all the time. It is also very comforting when they help out with practical things like meals and laundry or giving me rides to places on days where I can’t handle it.

I moved a few states away to go back home about a year and a half after getting sick, so a lot of my good friends are states away and it’s been hard to get involved and socialize regularly enough to make good friends here as easily. A great way that these friends have comforted me over the distance is through phone call check-ins, cards, and other gestures to show me they are thinking about me. And especially prayer!

Are you involved in any ministries or community service to reach out to others with chronic pain? Share about this.

Olivia's cards #comfortothers #chronicpain
Olivia’s cards

I’m not in any formal capacity but it’s something I really have a desire to work towards. One way that I have started to give back towards others who are suffering (in any way) is to create and write sympathy or encouragement cards for people in my church or community.

I’m involved with a Bible study where the leader is very involved with the church community and she often notifies me when there are people in the area who are going through something hard. Since I love to paint, I love the opportunity to create a card and then bring it to Bible study for the whole group to sign. It’s a great way for me to feel like I’m giving back and tangibly support others with my unique talents and passions.

Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.

Chronic Pain - a Powerful Opportunity
Olivia’s painting

Something I would say to someone who is struggling in his or her chronic illness journey (whatever that may be) that I hope might be encouraging is that I believe suffering in this kind of way is a unique calling. I would tell that person that they are very brave for carrying a burden that is much harder than most people realize.

I would affirm that they were chosen with this particular trial for a reason that I believe comes with it a special opportunity for God to work in a very powerful way if they let Him.

suffering in this kind of way is a unique calling #chronicpain #paininterviews Click To Tweet

I would encourage someone in the thick of their suffering to find inspiring examples and role models in the faith that triumphed through immeasurable hardships. I have found inspiration in people like Charles Spurgeon, a nineteenth-century preacher who struggled with deep depression and Elisabeth Elliot, a twentieth-century missionary who went through devastating loss and hardship in her life.

1 Peter 4:19 comfort powerful opportunity

I would also recommend reading the testimonies of Christians who have suffered or are suffering immense persecution or incarceration for their faith in Christ around the world. Hearing about how other believers have walked valiantly through deep trials always gives me strong motivation and inspiration to keep fighting the fight to trust and hope in God no matter where my health may be.

Olivia Wolfertz

Thank you Olivia for your encouraging words.

Now it’s Your turn!

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Not your IDentity

Chronic Pain is not Your Identity

Interviews with Chronic Pain Warriors #2

I know! It’s strange to write these words [light and momentary] when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the last year and have arrived at the place where I wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at my young life and then look forward to my future, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I wonder,

“Is this all I have to look forward too?” #lightandmomentarytrouble #interviewwithachronicpainwarrior Click To Tweet

“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.

So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

 And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)

And now Interview #2 with Stacey Shannon. Stacey struggles with the “light and momentary pain” due to fibromyalgia and other UTI issues. Shannon shared on our Legacy Link-up about our father last summer. Greatest Legacy. She is a freelance writer and has her own blog Families with Grace. Find our interview below.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Would you share the short story of your chronic pain journey? Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.

interviews with chronic pain warriors
created in canva.com

I was 3 years old when my bladder symptoms first started. I kept feeling like I had a UTI, but the infection didn’t always show up. By the time I was 5, I’d been through every test possible for my bladder and kidneys and nothing showed up as abnormal. Everyone basically shrugged their shoulders and told my parents to have me avoid citrus and caffeine.

I continued having symptoms off and on, then when I was 13, my symptoms increased. That’s when I first got the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis (IC), which is basically chronic inflammation of the bladder. After going to a few doctors, my parents were able to track down a specialist who really helped me and prescribed a medication I still take nearly 30 years later.

My symptoms improved and stayed pretty well through high school and college then came roaring back with a fierce vengeance at the end of graduate school. By that time, I was married to my high school sweetheart. Instead of graduating and finding a job with a magazine as I had planned, I was mostly homebound because I was so miserable.

I was blessed to have a remission through most of my pregnancy with my daughter 10 years ago. After her birth, I developed uterine prolapse. When I was pregnant with my son seven years ago, I had remission again until the third trimester when my pain level went up significantly, thanks in part to the prolapse. Each time, any sort of remission ended with the end of pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried an array of medications and treatments from medicine put directly into my bladder to physical therapy. I’ve driven hours away to see a leading IC urologist.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia as well, which made all sorts of other body pain make sense. The two conditions often go together. These days, my bladder is mostly cooperative if I maintain my medicine regiment and am careful to avoid caffeine, citrus and vinegar (my dietary triggers). My fibromyalgia is a different story. It causes me the most issues these days.

Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?

When I was 10 years ago, I asked Jesus to live in my heart. My husband and I both sought God’s will for our lives and got married young – while I was still in college, in fact. My husband knew about my bladder issues and was around at the end of my last really bad flare as a high school freshman. But neither of us expected IC to rear its ugly head again within three years of saying “I do.”

I had just graduated with two degrees in journalism since I’d felt God calling me into a career of writing faith-related articles back in high school. I was confused about why my health got so bad right when I had finished school and could get a job in a career that He’d led me to.

While I never lost faith in God, I did learn what it means to struggle with Him and how to be really honest with Him. I learned that I had to trust Him even when it didn’t make sense. He heard me whine and carry on. My husband encouraged me and often gave me the perspective that I needed. Each time I’d have a bad flare, I’d be shocked, having thought that I’d never had one again. Or I spiral into thinking I’d never, ever feel any better and everything was awful.

I also learned how isolating chronic pain and illness can be. All of my friends were starting their careers and I struggled to even go grocery shopping. I felt God leading me to connect with other people going through similar journeys, so I started a group for chronic pain and illness through my church.

For a few years, we met once a week. We went through a variety of Bible studies about chronic pain that helped me grow in my faith. In leading the group, I had to study the lessons more than just read them. I can look back now and see how God used that to help me grow in my faith and understanding that He was still at work.

God reminded me that His plan and my plans don’t always look the same. I learned through the years that my calling was still writing, but I was going to live it out in a different way as a freelancer than I had originally thought. Actually, my plan had been to work at a magazine for a few years and then freelance once we had babies. God just had me freelance sooner and, as a result, blessed us to be able to stay in the same city as my parents and my in-laws, which has been invaluable to us.

Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?


One of the biggest turning points in my faith happened one day when I was 25 or so. IC is a disease diagnosed through the process of elimination. Symptoms can vary from one patient to another and no one treatment plan works for all of us. (In fact, only one medication has been FDA-approved to treat IC, and it now has been shown to have some horrible side effects for eyesight.)

I’d try whatever my urologist thought might help. I went through one treatment after another. Each time I’d start a new prescription or treatment, I’d feel hopeful this would be the one that would give me relief. When it didn’t, I’d feel disappointed and let down.

Then one day, I was driving my car when I felt God saying to me, “Put your hope in Me.” It was the reminder I needed that even if none of the treatments ever worked for me that I could always trust God would be with me. I’ve carried this life lesson into many scary situations since then. I can place my hope in God and never be disappointed in Who He is.

That day, my prayers began to change as well. I began to realize I needed to come to grips with not being healed. I had prayed for healing. We had talked about healing many times in my chronic pain group. I fully believed (and still believe!) that God has the power to heal. I have seen Him heal people. But God was gently telling me time and again that healing wasn’t going to happen for me on earth.

I began to pray for healing from my need to be healed. Since then I have continued to wrestle with healing at different times when it’s come up in church services and such. I know it’s possible that God may heal me before I get to heaven, but even if He doesn’t, I know He will heal me then and that’s the promise I cling to. That’s what I can truly put my hope in.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?


When I was a little girl, we had a dark hallway at our house that scared me. In third grade, I learned the first part of Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear for I am with you.” I repeated that verse over and over walking down the hallway.

It came back to me when my bladder issues began in full force as a young adult. I looked it up and found the rest of the verse, which says, “Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I have clung to that verse during dark moments and times.

isaiah 41.10

I’ve gone into the ER repeating that verse to myself. I have clung to His promise to strengthen and uphold me on my hardest days when I have been ready to give up. It has brought me comfort and strength so many times.

How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?


 I definitely repeat my Bible verse for comfort and have used it as a breath prayer: “God, strengthen and uphold me.”

I also find other ways of comfort. Sometimes physical comfort leads to spiritual comfort. I sit with my heating pad. I work from the couch with my laptop instead of at my desk. I listen to uplifting Christian music. I watch shows I enjoy. I listen to my body when it tells me I need to rest or slow down.

I also remind myself (or sometimes my husband gently reminds me) that flares don’t last forever. Each time one hits, I worry it won’t go away and this is how I’m always going to feel. I can spiral quickly through anxiety and worry about how I’m ever going to be able to take care of my kids and such. Thankfully, I have years of experience to tell me that flares don’t last forever. And even if this is the time it doesn’t ease up, God will be with me. Do I always act like I know this? No, but I’m getting better at it.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?


 My husband has been awesome throughout this journey. I have gone into surgeries with him in the waiting room sporting a shirt that says: “My Wife Rocks.” He has never questioned my pain even though there is no physical proof of the pain or even the diagnoses. He has pushed me to get better treatments.

When my local urologist was out of ideas, my husband is the one who insisted on driving 4-1/2 hours to the leading IC urologist was not only worth it but doable. He’s driven there and back in one day many times to help me make those appointments.

My chronic pain also helped us learn to communicate even better earlier in our marriage. We learned the importance of approaching life as a team and not as opponents. Those lessons have helped us in other situations and the difficulties we’ve faced. I appreciate how he’ll do small things he knows will help me feel better like turning on my heating pad after a hard appointment while I go put on my PJs.

Along with my husband, my parents have also been incredibly supportive. They were the ones who first believed me when I was a preschooler who insisted I had to go to the bathroom again right after I had just gone or that it hurt when I went to the bathroom. They were the ones who found an IC specialist in a nearby big city when the pediatric urologist we saw said I was fine and just needed to learn how to urinate correctly.

I’m now 40 with kids of my own, but my parents still look out for and take care of me when they can. They offer to take the kids places when I don’t feel well.

My in-laws are the same. They have been so supportive and encouraging. Both my mom and mother-in-law have cleaned our house when I was recovering from surgery. They have helped take care of my kiddos when I needed extra help.

And my kiddos have been incredibly kind and understanding. As a mom, I wish they didn’t have to understand that sometimes mommy doesn’t feel well, but that’s my reality and so it’s theirs as well. I think they are more compassionate as a result. At 7 and 10, they’ll do things for me when I don’t feel well. My son is quick to want to carry heavy things, so I don’t have to. They have both prayed for me at different times, which blesses me beyond measure.

Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.

Chronic pain is a part of your life, but it’s not your identity. My IC and fibromyalgia are part of who I am, but they are only a part. I am so much more than my pain. I am a mom, a wife, a writer, a follower of Jesus, a friend, a daughter and on the list goes. You are more than your pain, too.

Chronic Pain is part of your life, but it's not your identity. #chronicpain #lightandmomentary #paininterviews Click To Tweet

While it’s hard to say that pain is a blessing, pain can teach us many lessons. God has used my physical pain to connect me with people I wouldn’t know otherwise. Those people have blessed me and encouraged me. God’s used my pain to teach me so many lessons and grow my faith. I am thankful for all of that. I wouldn’t have chosen to live life with pain, but I am blessed by the good things that have come from it.

In the end, on both good and bad days, God is good. He is our hope and will never let go of us.

Thank you, Stacey, for sharing with us today. I know I have connected with you in your story and others will as well.

Families with Grace
http://familieswithgrace.com/

Readers, I encourage you to comment below or connect with Stacey on social media. Stacey blogs at Families with Grace.

Mandy Farmer

Are you a Chronic Pain Warrior?

Would you be willing to share your faith story and encourage others? Contact Mandy for more details about an interview for this blog. See Guidelines Here

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notes of comfort

This Light and Momentary Pain

Interviews with Chronic Pain Warriors

I know! It’s strange to write these words [light and momentary] when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the last year and have arrived at the place where I wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at my young life and then look forward to my future, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

And I wonder, “Is this all I have to look forward too?” #lightandmomentarytrouble #interviewwithachronicpainwarrior Click To Tweet

“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.

So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

 And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)

Here is the first interview with my dear friend, Bettie Gilbert. Bettie struggles with “light and momentary pain” due to RA, fibromyalgia, and a host of other diagnoses. Keep reading to learn about her struggles and her faith.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay
interviews with chronic pain warriors; notes of comfort
image created at Canva.com with free images

Bettie, Thank you for sharing your story. You are always such an encouragement to me so I know this is going to encourage many others.

Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.


In the late summer of 2014, I noticed that my fingers and thumb had some strange swelling and aching, but did not think anything about it until later that fall. I had been helping my neighbor garden and I woke up with my right hand locked up in a fiery pain that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. This happened three more times before my yearly physical in December of that year. My G.P. sent through the blood-work for Rheumatoid testing, and sure enough, 3 of the 4 markers came back positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. They rushed me to the Rheumatologist the very next week, and I began this journey of chronic pain.
A year later I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis. Then 3 years later I was also diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome and Occipital Neuralgia.

Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?

I ran to God with my questions and my doubts. I didn’t have anywhere else to turn, because the doctors gave me very little information about what was happening with my body. But I am actually thankful for that because the Lord has become even more intimate and close to me than He was before my diagnosis.

Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?


Early in my diagnosis, I found myself apologizing to everyone that I had gotten sick. It became such a constant response in me that one day I realized I had begun speaking that to the Lord also: “Jesus, I am so sorry I got sick. I am sorry I need Your help again. Forgive me for being so weak.” About a year into my diagnosis, I began to hear Him calling me, “Come to me, come inside (The Kingdom of God is within you.) I am already here, and I am not offended by your pain.” That whisper from the Lord began such a process of surrender and fellowship with the Lord that is continuing to grow to this day.

What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?

notes of comfort; chronic pain warriors
image created at Canva.com free images


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

How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?


Listening to Christian music with a heating pad wrapped around my wrist and arm has become a calming time for me. Reading books is so helpful, and I am blessed to check out the resources of hope offered at the Chronic Joy Ministry Website too.
Sometimes I watch silly You-tube videos when my mind is so foggy that I can’t keep track of anything. And on other days, when my pain level allows, writing and journaling help me to process what is happening inside of me. I try to begin every day by moving very slowly and taking the time to read Scriptures. Even if I can only read one verse, just to know that His Word is still my solid ground brings me such help.

What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?


Calling to check on me, and offering to pray with and for me is a huge blessing for me. Receiving and sending note-cards in the mail has brought amazing blessings from God for me. When someone brings me a pot of soup, it feels like a gigantic gift! And my husband fills in so many things for me that I cannot do any longer. I am so grateful for each gift offered to me.

Are you participating in any ministries that encourage other chronic pain warriors?

Over the last year, I have joined with the team at Chronic Joy Ministry as their Volunteer Prayer Coordinator. I am so blessed to be able to pray for requests as they are shared at the Prayer Pond.  I enjoy sending out #PenToPaper notes and emails in response to those prayer requests. I also write posts on Scriptures and Prayer there.

Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.


Our Lord has told us that He would never leave us or forsake us. So I would encourage you to put that Scripture to the test. Cry out to Him, ask Him for His mercy on your darkest day. And when you pause to listen, He will meet you right there to bring encouragement. Keep your eyes open to watch for moments of His beauty. What seemed small in the past, during your busy days, will shine so much brighter now, bringing God’s grace to you.

Bettie, thank you so much for this encouragement. It will help many of us as we face these ‘ light and momentary ‘ struggles. A wonderful reminder that one day, we are promised ‘no more pain’ (Revelation 21:4)

Readers, I encourage you to join Bettie at Chronic Joy. Click here for her latest Prayer Prompt. You can also respond to Bettie here on the blog by commenting below.

Mandy Farmer

Are you a Chronic Pain Warrior?

Would you be willing to share your faith story and encourage others? Contact Mandy for more details about an interview for this blog. See Guidelines Here

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Finding Joy in the Pain


Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 ESV

Finding Joy in the Hard Places

FInding Joy in the Hard Places
photo credit Canva
Modified by Mandy

Throughout my years of reading the Scriptures, this verse has been one of my favorites. It has brought such comfort and joy in so many hard places. When night fell it seemed that the problems always loomed much larger in the dark than in the light of day. And as my heart ached with the weight of so many burdens, I held tightly to the promise that the Lord would bring the dawn of His light–the night of the trial could not last forever. And He did bring such peace to my heart as I watched the light dawning in so many of those dark, hard struggles.

The Hard Place of Chronic Illness

However, when chronic illness fell upon me several years ago, I found this verse taking on a literal meaning that hit me in a new way. The physical pains brought new tears in the evening. Every time I lay down, needing rest so deeply, the throbbing would heighten. Every time I finally drifted off to sleep, a jolt of fresh pain would awaken me. And the anxiety that accompanied so many of the medications brought nightmares and levels of pain that finally left me weeping before my Lord.

“How long will this night last, Lord Jesus? When will You bring the rescue?”

Finding Joy in the Morning

Finally, every morning, when the rising of the sun would finally light up my window, I could hear His words echoing in my heart:

“Rejoice, my child! We made it through one more night! My own heart is filled with joy to see you trusting Me even here.”

I could hear His words, and I could rejoice in the sunlight, but I could not rejoice at the coming night that I knew would fall again, all too soon. Recently though, He has been asking me to offer even that pain in the night up to Him as an offering. It has made little sense to me until I came across these Scriptures recently. Words that again, I have read so many times, suddenly jumped off the page for me:

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Jesus Feels Our Pain

Additionally, Jesus endured the cross, and suffered that shame for us, but why? For the JOY that was set before Him. He offered Himself, every pain and every burden that was taken for us, and He gave it all over to God, for the joy of bringing us to His Father. Could I offer my own pain in that same way? Could I see my own sleepless and pain-filled nights as a place of offering to Him?

“Oh Lord, how I long to be able to offer it all to you? But even that offering is too hard for me. I don’t know how I can do that.”

Into the midst of my tears, He brought His Words to me yet again. This time they were ancient words, uttered to God’s people who had been long at work, obeying the Lord to rebuild His dwelling place and the wall of protection around His city. And God had called them to celebrate their place with Him:

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

Finding Joy in the Morning Through Jesus

Consequently, it was the very answer that He had been whispering to my heart every morning. It is the JOY of the LORD that will be my strength. I cannot strive to attain that. But He has already won it for me. He bore all that pain for me, and now He is the One who can show me how to offer my own pain back to Him again and again, every dark night.

And always, the morning of HIS light of Joy will dawn in my heart, because it is His gift, His fruit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22,23 ESV

Bettie Gilbert


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One More Thing – Featured Posts

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Here are the featured posts from October 2019 Legacy Link-up. Kudos to Tammy Kennington and Karen Sebastian.

Most Clicked

Tammy Kennington had the most clicks last month. Go check out her post What Freedom in Christ Looks Like.

What Freedom in Christ Looks Like

My Favorite Linked Post in October

My favorite post was Karen Sebastian’s post. Karen was participating in the 30-day writing challenge. She wrote on the theme “How to Live 101 Wonderful Years” in celebration of her father. This post on Joy was a perfect segue into the November theme of joy.

How to live 101 wonderful years. Joy in the Hard Places