Embarking on the Chronic Life

Just when you think you have arrived,

God changes the map.

It was Valentine’s Day of 2011.

We were finally taking a cruise with friends. They had been begging us for years to go to the Bahamas with them. We were all set to go the previous year until my father had a heart attack just weeks before the embarquement.

cruise ship embarking
Mandy embarking on a cruise

So we waited another year. And finally, we embarked on the ship. The first few days were wonderful. I wasn’t even experiencing expected nausea from seasickness.

We arrived on the cruise island for a fun day of bottomless boat rides, parasailing, and a huge BBQ picnic. What fun it was. But it was to be my last good day for a long, long time.

embarking on a chronic life
Mike & I on right.
The last time I have ever felt great.

Embarking the Tender

A tender is a small boat that carries you to and from the port of call, or island stop. On this particular day, we need to take the tender to get to the scheduled shore excursion. The trip to the island was fine. However, returning was not so great.

We took the very last boat to the ship. So did “everyone” else. We were packed on there like sardines. This would not have been so bad except There was a backup of tenders taking people to the ship. We sat on the water bouncing about for nearly an hour amidst a lot of diesel fuel fumes.
I was already a bit nauseous from that bottomless boat, but this “little” trip did me in. I pushed my way to the edge of the boat just in time to lose my lunch over the side.

Things did not improve on the ship. We dressed for our Valentine’s Dinner but my stomach just wouldn’t settle down. I remained sick for the entire return home to Jacksonville.

I was never so happy to set foot on land. But my body decided. Nah! I’ll just keep bouncing around for a while. It’s what they call Disembarkment Syndrome. I had a feeling of bouncing about in that little tender boat for the next 6 months.

~Mandy

embarking on the chronic life

intro journey with pain bbe still

Introduction to My Journey with Chronic Pain.

BE STILL and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

originally posted Oct 1, 2015 at The Farmersplace.com

Stillness is hard, especially when you are hurting or scared or worried. Whenever I hear this Bible verse I am reminded of working in the strawberry fields.

strawberry fields BE STILL
John Joannidis from pixabay


When I was in college, I worked at a strawberry patch every summer. Now, this was not just a little patch of strawberries in our backyard. This was acres of strawberries.  I worked through the season. So I was cleaning fields to keep out weeds and ready them for the public to come and pick strawberries. Now when strawberries are blooming, guess what else might be around. You guessed it, bees. 


One day, I was working the fields when suddenly I found myself working in the same place as the bees. And I was surrounded. Why couldn’t this be one of those times when you find yourself frozen and cannot move?

Journey with Chronic Pain
Introduction
It’s Hard to be Still

No … My mind was saying “BE STILL… BE STILL and they won’t bother you. Just go about your own business. Keep pulling weeds.”
But my body was flailing, my feet were doing some kind of new dance. My arms and hands were waving and swatting the air. And no matter how much I tried to stop, I could not convince my body that I needed to just stop and quit moving. (My brothers had a good laugh imagining this when I relayed the story to them.)
Somehow, I finally did find a way to still myself without getting stung.


Here’s the point.

The bees need to be there to pollinate those strawberries. We wouldn’t get those sweet, delicious strawberries without the bees.


It’s that way in life.

Those trials are there to help us grow. You’ve heard it before … “ the testing of your faith produces endurance, etc., etc” But, we don’t like it one little bit. We want the trial to go away, but God needs us to STOP AND LISTEN. He is CALLING to us, but too often, we don’t hear him because we are too busy doing good things and then too busy swatting at the problems.


But He is quietly saying “BE STILL.  BE STILL.”
Some of us never learn to BE STILL until God forces us to BE STILL.

Coming up next, I’ll share how God made me STILL

Meanwhile, share in the comments, “What does it take for you to BE STILL?”

-Mandy

Want to know about my journey with pain? Check back HERE for new posts on my story.

Losing it All ~ LEGACY LINKUP

Have you ever felt like you were losing it all? 

losing it all IG
images created in Canva.com for free

Originally Published Date: June 17, 2016, on ggmandy dot com

I Know I Have!

When fibromyalgia set in, So many of the things I loved were lost.

  • lost working with children at church. 
  • I lost supporting other homeschoolers and teaching classes, 
  • No freedom as I could no longer drive myself where I wanted to go, 
  • I lost my social life, 

However, I gained a new perspective on life

I gained an empathy for others who are ill…sicker than myself. 

I gained an understanding of the concerns and pressures placed on a caregiver. None by their own choosing (other than the promise given in the wedding vows, or that blood is thicker the water). 

and ultimately, my husband lost his job due to my illness. Which meant we lost our home, our income, our self-worth. 

We gained a new trust in God as our provider (no relying on our own abilities here.) 

The greatest thing I gained in the stillness, was time to really get close to my Creator. I now gave Him time to really speak to me and, oh, how I have grown. 

Illness can teach us what is really important in life.

We can get so busy doing stuff.

Stuff that doesn’t matter worth a flip.

Stuff that will only burn up when we stand before God one day. 

losing it all PIN

Why don’t we listen

when we read or hear God’s Word?

He says … 

Jesus: If any one of you wants to follow Me, you will have to give yourself up to God’s plan, take up your cross, and do as I do. 35 For any one of you who wants to be rescued will lose your life, but any one of you who loses your life for My sake and for the sake of this good news will be liberated. 

36 Really, what profit is there for you to gain the whole world and lose yourself in the process? 

37 What can you give in exchange for your life? 

38 If you are ashamed of Me and of what I came to teach to this adulterous and sinful generation, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in the glory of His Father along with the holy messengers at the final judgment.

Mark 8: 34-38 

He lost EVERYTHING for you and me.

Shouldn’t we lose it all for Him?

Matthew 10:39 Losing it all

Lost in Him; 

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

LEGACY LINKUP – IT’S YOUR TURN

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Awesome Scriptures that can Trigger “feel-good” Hormones

I’ve heard that we can re-train our minds and deter some of our pain. This year, I would like to instill some “feel-good” scriptures in your minds to help fight against the drudgery of our invisible pain. I have asked fellow pain warriors to write a quick note of encouragement using scripture that helps them get through the pain. Here is the first one by my dear friend, Bettie Gilbert who has shared here on the blog before.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for being so concerned for my health, and for asking how I am getting along.

Recently I was reminded of a Scripture Verse that confirmed what both my Physical Therapist and my Counselor had shared with me:

“Remember [carefully] the former things [which I did] from ages past; For I am God, and there is no one else; I am God, and there is no one like Me.”

Isaiah 46:9 Amp

Did you know that the same areas of your brain that were triggered during a pleasant experience years ago, will be triggered again just by remembering it?

My counselor offered a beneficial practice for me then, on days when I am feeling low or depressed. She said that if I would look back and try to remember better days, and to even try to think about the specific details of a good experience, then those same areas in my brain would be triggered with “feel-good” chemicals now.

My physical therapist went a step further and said that studies have found a real benefit in pain therapy when a patient can remember a time of exertion, such as walking or working out, and slowly pace out the memory as if they are “walking” again in their mind. The right-left sensations trigger those same areas in your brain to produce those “feel-good” chemicals, and even can stimulate pain relief in some patients.

Walk the Halls of Memory

So, on days when you see me feeling particularly low about the days gone by and all that I cannot accomplish now, maybe we could join in a session of “therapy” and walk the halls of our memories together. Who knows, maybe your own “feel-good” chemicals might be given a boost as you share those pleasant memories also.

Isn’t the working of our human body and brain incredible?

Truly we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Psalmist tells us:

“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”

Psalm 139:14
psalm 139
images created in canva.com by Mandy

I am praying for you my dear loved one, as you have reached out to me. May you feel so blessed by God as He pours His compassion through you.

Your loved one in Christ,

BettieG

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Thank you Bettie for reminding us of these feel-good scriptures. We can always depend on you to come through with great encouragements.

IT’S YOUR TURN!

Share an encouraging post on your feel-good scripture. It can be about getting through whatever you deal with… not just pain like Bettie and I..

legacy link-ups

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
my life with fibromyalgia; fibro warriors, letters to friends about fibro life

Fibro and RA ~ Mandy’s Journey with Pain

It’s been a while since I shared my journey with fibro and RA pain. A new friend and fellow pain warrior asked if I would do an interview on her blog, so that gave me the chance to update my story.

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

When did you notice that something was wrong, at what age do you think the first symptoms appeared?

My first symptom was severe chest pains at the age of 11 or 12. Of course, after chest x-rays and such, nothing was found to be a problem, so it was diagnosed as “growing pains”. I had these pains all through high school. In retrospect, the more I learn about fibromyalgia the more I see that I have probably suffered all my life. Fatigue has always been an issue for me.

Normally it takes a few years to get the diagnosis. What was it like for you? 

No other research was done until after we returned from a cruise in February 2011 (49 years old). I acquired dis-embarkment syndrome which is when a person never gets their land legs back after leaving the ship. I still have a feeling of bouncing in a boat (10 years later). Months went by as doctors tested me for the problem.

In August 2011,

I had an episode of shortness of breath. No diagnosis was found. Then I awoke one morning with a crick in my neck. I went to a chiropractor who tried to give me an adjustment. My neck would not move at first but when it finally did, it shot pain down my neck and body. 

September 2011

My journey with pain really began one Sunday in September; I laid down to rest but only lay about halfway down when pain shot across my lower back. The slightest movement would cause excruciating, contracting pains across my back. I was confined to my bed for about a month. No medications except large amounts of prednisone were helpful. 

October 2011

After visiting several doctors, I ended up with a blood clot in my left leg because I had been immobile for too long. Visiting these doctors entailed being carried out of my house in a wheelchair by four men. After recovering from the blood clot, my doctors decided to send me to Mayo Clinic. (Happy 50th birthday!) The doctor sent me home and said wait for Mayo Clinic to call.

December 2011

Mayo Clinic called me within a month just to get my information and give me instructions for setting up an account. They said that it would probably be 6 months to get an appointment. I thought, “No way I can have this kind of pain for six months”, so I asked to go to Emory University. We went to the spine center at Emory but they found nothing wrong. Fortunately, after a month or so, Mayo Clinic called and had an opening.

January 2012

The first appointment at Mayo was with one doctor. I brought him all my records and shared my entire story. We returned 2 months later for 3 days of testing and seeing several specialists.

March 2012

I went home with a diagnosis of Central Sensitivity Syndrome with indications of Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and Chronic Pain Syndrome. What a mouthful! That was sometime in March 2012 – a year and one month after our cruise. When I talk with other fibro patients, I feel that I was fortunate. I am thankful that I was so quickly sent on to Mayo Clinic. It is quite an amazing medical center. I wrote a post about Mayo Clinic.

June 2012

After a few months of medications for the fibromyalgia, I was able to begin to reduce the steroids. At this point, my knees began to swell and have a lot of pain. So I was sent to an orthopedic specialist. He diagnosed a torn meniscus and arthritis.

January 2013

Knee Surgery. Repaired the meniscus and cleaned out some arthritis. But things were not looking good in my knee. He wanted a second opinion. So we were scheduled to return to Mayo Clinic. Once you are a patient, It doesn’t take as long to get an appointment.

March 2013

Returned to my rheumatologist. He agreed that it was likely just osteoarthritis. But he decided to schedule all the blood work again. It turned out that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I wrote about the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis here. The RA was caught early. The doctor said that I was fortunate and would probably not have the disfiguring that most have.

More of My Journey with Pain

I answered more questions with Bettina on her blog, Me, Myself, and I

I also did a more detailed series of my journey back in 2015. You can find that series at my personal family blog, The Farmers Place ~ 31 Days of Waiting and Trusting

Thanks for Caring;

Mandy

journey with pain
images created by Mandy at Canva.com

Jessie- In Every Broken Place

It’s been a while since I’ve shared

broken places

I’ve been busy

Work has been good

God has been good

It’s been almost a year since I’ve started a new journey

Along the way God has continued to affirm in me

This person He’s created me to be

As I began to work with people with disabilities

I was nervous- I didn’t want to fail them

In the still small moments He whispers… I listen

Truly a confidence in Him

And I wish I knew a way to articulate it

Now in so many ways

I look back at the past ten years

All of the hard and painful things

God was teaching me

All of the hard things

All of the painful moments

Broke my expectations

Kept me still

God was teaching me

Be still

And know

He is God

He has met me in every broken place

Every place of solitude

Every painful and angry moment

And taught my heart to be still

And know He is my God

Jess

legacy link-ups

It’s Your Turn!

Share a post on how God is creating YOUR legacy!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Review: Holy Hustle Planner

The year of COVID-19 has me way behind in 2021. We didn’t celebrate Christmas until mid-January so it’s no wonder that I am just now getting my schedule and plans in order. Is this true for you?

Show me your way, O Lord.

Teach me your paths. 

Lead me in your truth and teach me. 

You are the God of my salvation. 

On You, I wait all day.”

Psalm 25:4-5,

Finding God’s Plan

Finding God’s path has been challenging to say the least. I am baffled how someone with Chronic Illness can struggle even more with being “shut-in”. How is it that my days seem full when I don’t really have that much to do?

Well, being Type-A, I am always wanting to get more done than is physically possible. Those BIG planners only make me have lofty ideas. This planner keeps me from pushing myself too much. I just list my to do’s for the week. (only one per day, max) I’m not nearly as frustrated about what I manage to complete.

images provide by Crystal Stine

PLANNERS GALORE

I have found a lot of beautiful planners. But seriously, they are bulky and way too complicated for the chronic gal. I need simple but pretty. I don’t need stickers or all the minute details; just a place to record doctor’s appointments and a checklist for the things I need to do this week.

Even after 10 years of chronic pain,

I still struggle with overdoing it.

THIS PLANNER WORKS FOR ME

Crystal Stine has come up with the perfect planner for me. It’s pretty with its faux leather cover. It’s lightweight, like a paperback. And simplistic. It offers monthly calendars at the beginning, Then 52 weekly calendars with encouraging quotes to cheer you along the way. And the nice thing is it’s NOT already dated. Start using it anytime and even go into a new year.

Perfect for teachers or homeschoolers or anyone who has a different fiscal year. In the back you will find a year layout where you can put things for the new year or maybe things like birthdays!

I love this #holyhustleplanner! Click To Tweet

And, Oh! By the Way…

Crystal has a whole book about how the handle this Holy Hustle. AND a Bible Study, too! Wow! we can really get on track ’cause she is providing all the guidance we need.

So Go For It!

Purchase yours now!

Mandy





Finding Purpose with Chronic Pain & Link-Up

Finding PUrpose

I’ve been struggling with chronic pain for nearly 10 years. Finding purpose is key to having a fulfilled life in the midst of pain.

One of the good things about that is connecting with so many wonderful chronic pain warriors. We have such a wonderful support community online.

One of those places is the Diamonds Conference where I met Paula Short. She recognized my blog and knew she had read some of my posts in the past. Now she knew where to find me! So she jumped right over to the blog and signed up for the newsletter. I have asked her to share a bit about her life with chronic pain and how she found new purpose.

Mandy

Legacy Link up Time! Finding Purpose through trials. Click To Tweet
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curleque by Coffee at pixabay
PAula Short interview finding purpose
photo provide by Paula

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

Paula: I distinctly remember sitting on my mom’s bed crying because my legs hurt. That was at age 9. I could never go outside and play long because I had to come in and lay down because of the pain in my legs. My parents took me to the doctor and were told it was growing pains, my parents were told then that I had anxiety. Well, the pain never stopped, it stayed with me as I aged. Then in my teen years, my pain was spreading to other areas of my body. I began getting headaches at around age 4 and having chronic diarrhea since childhood. Of course, the doctors did not say it was IBS but just a nervous stomach. I still have belly pain and IBS today, even though I take medication for it.

I spent my 20’s going from doctor to doctor each area of illness required me to see different doctors. Finally, I was diagnosed with migraines, IBS, TMJ, and at the time MS. Fast forward to my 40’s. I was then diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, degenerative joints disease, and chronic pain. Finally, in 2016 MS was ruled out as a misdiagnosis, and then I got the fibromyalgia diagnosis. I also got my diagnosis of Complicated migraines while some people get auras, I get stroke symptoms. I am told it is a rare type of migraine. It was in 2016 that I had to retire, early at the age of 45.

Losing Purpose

I was devastated to have to leave my beloved Social Work. I felt like I lost my purpose. The constant pain and daily migraines (that cause me cognitive issues) had taken over. In addition to being in pain all the time. I am always in some state of migraine; my baseline pain level is 3 during the days but can rise to an 8. Balance and mobility issues, as well as, the dreaded fatigue and fog have been an issue, causing me to be labeled a fall risk.

So Much Chronic Pain

I don’t remember what it feels like to have no pain. I can’t forget to add in I see a psychiatrist for severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. After three years of therapy, I phased out of counseling in August of 2019.

 Grieving and then on to acceptance. I continue with medication management now. Everything seems to get worse as I age. I take a lot of medication and prednisone is my friend. 

I don't remember what it feels like to NOT have pain. #chronicillness #fibro Click To Tweet

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

PAULA: While I had grown up in a Christian home and followed Jesus all my life. Looking back, I see that I was a lukewarm Christian for a lot of my adult life. It was during my 30’s that my faith began to grow. It wasn’t until my 40’s that my faith began to develop into a relationship with God. I found and still do that during my worst times it leads me to draw nearer to God. It was during self-isolation and not wanting to go out of my house that I suddenly had an awakening if you will, I had to surrender not only my illnesses but my life to him. I said,

 “God, I can’t do this on my own, every time I tried, I failed. May your will be done.” 

I am a work in progress

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

PAULA: No. I really can’t pinpoint a specific event that was a turning point along my way. The best way I can describe it is since it has been a long journey, I continue to be a work in progress. If anything, this journey had led me to have a relationship with Christ. Emphasis on “relationship

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

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

 Although Jesus has not removed my physical condition his power is displayed in my weakness. It reminds me to trust and rely on God instead of myself, admitting my weakness affirms God’s strength. 

Another Scripture that I rest in is Isaiah 40:31, NIV. It gives me hope and reminds me that his promise of strength will help me rise above life’s distractions and difficulties. 

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

PAULA: I remember that God is omnipresent, He is always with me day and night throughout my journey of this thing called life and illness. It brings me great comfort in knowing that. Also, I love listening to Christian music such as K-Love radio. It leads me to sing praises and worship him despite the pain. And thankfully, I am uplifted.

I love to read and prefer reading over TV, and I get creative by Bible faith bullet journaling. 

I also find great comfort in my friend that Jesus blessed me with to journey with me, my ESA dog’s a little beagle named Little. 

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

PAULA: Well, that depends. My family and friends have not read about my chronic illness to educate themselves on how my fibromyalgia can affect my body and cognition. When I try to tell them how it affects me, sometimes, they listen and sometimes they dismiss or marginalize me.

They do, however, know how my complicated migraines affect me and are receptive towards me through those. Someone always goes with me to my neurologist appointments, so they hear what the doctor has to say. They are accommodating and compassionate when my migraines escalate.

My family and friends do not understand how #chronicpain, #fatigue, and #fibrofog affect me.   Click To Tweet

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

PAULA: First, I need to tell you how God gave me my purpose back. If you recall above, I said I felt like I lost my purpose when I had to retire early from my beloved Social Work. I had been thinking of blogging for a long time, my heart was, and is convicted, in sharing more Jesus.

I kept feeling a tugging. Like God was calling me for something. But at the time I couldn’t recognize for what. Then when I did, I resisted saying “But God I’m not a writer.” Well, he had plans for me, and here I am writing hence Simply Chasing Jesus was born in November of 2019.

created by Mandy in canva.com

My new purpose was sharing him. Then I began to feel that tug again, still to blog. This time Simply Coffee and Jesus were born in September of 2020. This is where I began to hone in and write more specifically on chronic illness among other new topics for me. I never considered my blogs my ministry, but pausing and reflecting on it, it really is my ministry to help others and share Jesus’ good news. 

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

Dear friends, living with any chronic illness is rough. I know there are days when you are wondering how you’re going to make it through. I know there are days when you simply can’t function. I get it. Whether you are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness or have been a long-time warrior, educate yourself. 

Try your best to educate friends and family. Some may not understand nor want to understand and that’s okay too. There are many great websites out there about living with chronic pain and illnesses. It was just recently that I was able to connect with other Christian bloggers who have and write about chronic pain and illnesses. So, you see, it may have taken me a while to find fellowship and community with others who understand but I finally did.

Friend, there are others out there, we are out there for you. We support you; we care. You are not your chronic illness you are not your chronic pain. God chose you and called you by name. Keep digging deep into God’s word. All Scripture is God-breathed from beginning to end. The answers, comfort, and hope are there in Him. The Psalms are filled with every emotion and lament you may have. God breathed hope from beginning to end. Dearest friends pray to him with honest abandon.

 God’s got this!

God’s got you.  

Paula


Thank you, Paula for this encouraging interview. Though I don’t have as many diagnosis, I could relate to so much of your journey. Especially the “I can’t write”. But God has a great sense of humor doesn’t he?


It’s Your Turn

legacy link-ups
Share your own post about finding purpose. (Not neccesarily though chronic pain)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

his eye is on the sparrow

I Sing Because I’m Happy and Free

This post was prompted by the gang at Five Minute Friday Each Friday we take five minutes to write on the same prompt. It’s a lot of fun to see what others are inspired to write from the same prompt. Give it a try or click and do a bit of fun reading.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Music is my life.

There was a day when you would always find me singing. But lately, I find it hard to sing. It’s like there is a lump in my throat. And I feel kind of sad. So what’s a girl to do?

Always a Reason to Sing

2 Corinthians reminds me that our Christian life is not about being happy but about serving Christ.  We are indeed jars of clay, cracked and broken but shining out the love of Christ. It’s those cracks and breaks that show the world we are His and that life can be fulfilling even in the valleys.

We are not promised a good life. We are not promised a bed of roses. Though if we were, I remind you the roses have thorns. 

These scriptures remind us that even when we feel we cannot sing, we should look back at what God as done for us. If nothing else, He has saved us from our sin and promised us life eternal! This should be enough to give us His joy. 

I’m reminded of the beautiful hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow.

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for heaven, heaven and home,
When, when Jesus is my portion,
My constant Friend is He;
Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watched, watched it over me.

I sing because I’m happy (happy)
I sing because I’m free (free free free)
For His eye, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know, I know He watches over me.

He is my Constant Friend

God is watching over us. He cares about every detail of our lives. God sees us as His treasured possession! We can sing in this reality.

So don’t give up. Keep Singing.

Keep your eyes looking up. Be faithful to Him.

Allow His light to shine through you so that when you arrive at heaven’s gates, you will be bringing along a whole host of believers that found Christ because of your perseverance.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!

Psalm 104:33

Sing to the Lord!

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

[ctt template=”4″ link=”513Nr” via=”yes” nofollow=”yes”]even when we feel we cannot sing, we should look back at what God as done for us. [/ctt]

Is Chronic Pain Stopping you from an Abundant Life

I recently met Alexandra through the Fibro Bloggers Directory. She has only recently been diagnosed with fibro; however, when you hear her story you will see that she has been suffering for quite some time.

NOTE: It’s Legacy Link-up time. Once your finish reading the interview, be sure to link-up your own uplifting post this month.

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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.

pain warrior interview with Alexandra Henry acceptance journey

My chronic illness journey set off when my feet were swollen (individually at different years) in college. My podiatrist reassured me that lymphedema is not something to worry about. He said that I should just keep my feet elevated. He didn’t see it as a big deal, so I didn’t either. (One of my feet is still swollen…!). At that time I was going through a period of depression because of my low self-esteem.

My depression transformed into anxiety when I contracted TMJ Disorder and pain from my neck, shoulder, wrists, knees, etc. I literally thought that I was going to die because of my pain. I had vivid nightmares of my body becoming flat, shapeless, and deformed! Finally, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2019. So, that cleared up some of my questions about my nerve pain and other symptoms. But it was very hard to see me as a young woman in her 20s who has a chronic illness.

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

My father had recently passed away from cancer, so this made my own chronic illness harder to manage. I didn’t know what was going on with my body, my life, my mind. How was God present in all this? “Not knowing” what God was doing or if He was even with me throughout my struggles made it hard for me to trust in Him. I consider myself a very faithful woman, but to be honest with you, my physical challenges caused me to doubt His presence. Although I was doubting God, there was still a little internal nudge that pushed me to not lose hope.

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

Throughout my experience of desolation from God, I turned to poetry which I eventually published in 2019. The publishing process of my book, “Songs of Freedom”, was a spiritual and emotional healing process. Writing and publishing my book helped me to face chronic trauma from my childhood memories that shed light on my negative and unreal perceptions of myself.

I sat with my thoughts and feelings and intentionally invited God to sit with me. This was a turning point for me because, for the first time, I was truly and authentically seeing God as my Father and not as an unruly dictator in my life. This unveiling process of my subconscious mind helped me to also start the healing process from my relationship with my dad who had passed away.

I, now, wholeheartedly, believe in the power of my thoughts. For me, chronic illness showed up due to unmanaged anxiety and unresolved chronic trauma in my life. All this time, I had a laser focus on physical healing when it was really my mind that needed the healing.

Although my body was still experiencing intense pain and stiffness, a little door of freedom was being opened in my mind and it was helping me to have a different relationship with my chronic pain issues.

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

It’s hard to pick one scripture verse….but the Passion of Christ has been near and dear to my heart in my journey because of the pain and suffering Jesus actually went through for me and for you. Imagining Jesus looking into my eyes as he carries the big and heavy cross all the way to Calvary sends me shivers to my spine. And it makes me think of his love that never gets tired of me.

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

On especially painful days, practicing gratitude has saved me from playing the victim of my pain. I try to be as accepting of the situation as much as possible; choosing not to fight with my pain. I want to respect my journey, my body, and even my pain, so if I need the rest, I choose to love my body by giving it the rest it needs. God wants me to take care of my body and my health conditions. I can be grateful to cooperate with Him in this little “reroute” in my day. It’s definitely not easy, and it takes prayer, practice, and consistency to create the mindset of gratitude and surrender of one’s chronic illness (or anything!).

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

This is a really good question. Sometimes it’s good to distract your mind from your pain, so they are so helpful in picking out movies, praying with me, making me a nice smoothie, or just hanging out with me. Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. Especially if they understand or try to understand your chronic illness.

Company is such a gift when you are going through pain. #fibromyalgia Click To Tweet

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

I recently started a blog called The Acceptance Journey which focuses on the mental and spiritual wellbeing of people with chronic illness. From my blog, I hope to build a community in which we can share about our relationship with our chronic illnesses: is it positive or negative? Our relationship with our own chronic illness and the perception we have of our own chronic illness can positively or negatively impact the healing process. I hope that The Acceptance Journey can be a source of light and inspiration for those who feel like a victim of their illnesses.

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

It's Your Choice Acceptance Journey

No matter how bad your chronic pain is, it can be a big wall or a big door in your life. It’s up to you to decide if you are going to let chronic pain stop you from living the life you are called to live or to walk through that door and see what good things are in store for you. It’s a daily decision.

Jesus says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Yes, Jesus calls you to live an abundant life–even with your chronic pain.

It's Your Choice ~ Is #chronicpain a wall or a door? #fibro Click To Tweet
abudant life John 10:10 Acceptance Journey
image created in Canva.com

How does that look? It’s going to look different for each person because we are all unique, but don’t resign to a life that lacks peace, joy, order, freedom, creativity, connection, and God’s loving Fatherhood.


Thank you, Alexandra, for your encouraging words! I’m looking forward to following your blog, The Acceptance Journey, and getting to know you better.

Readers might also be interested in Alexandra’s poetry.

She has already published a book of poems. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and my first impression is that she is quite a poet. Check it out on the link below.


IT’S YOUR TURN!

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