facing the pain to pearl

Bravely Face Your Pain Until It Becomes a Pearl

I am so excited to introduce you to a good friend of mine. She has just published her own website sharing how her struggles in life including chronic illness are teaching her to allow her pain to become a pearl. Today I am featuring her on the blog. Come read her story and then Link-up your own legacy story.

Introducing Melissa

Melissa is a truth-seeker and a truth-teller who writes and speaks from life experience, testing and growing in the lab of great joys and deep sorrows. Through it all, she has found a closeness with the Father by both wrestling with Him and being still with Him. That has given her a compassion for others that is palpable.

Understanding that pain and suffering are universal, her mission is to help others bravely face their pain with God until they find Him safe enough to cover it all with His love, strength, and beauty. Whether reading her words or hearing her speak in person, her unique ability to weave story and truth will have you hooked!

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curleque by Coffee at pixabay

Our family’s story is full of great joys. It is also full of deep wounds.

“When I read it this morning, Mom, I didn’t realize how many tears I needed to cry about this day. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to revisit this event.”

My oldest and only son wrote that to me after reading our Family Story page on my website. Ten years after our family’s world came crashing down at dizzying speeds when two of our daughters, his sisters, were in a tragic 4-wheeler accident. He had to hold his baby sister whose face was severely crushed in his merely 16-year-old arms while waiting for an ambulance.

If there is one thing my kids—now all young adults—have heard from me over and over again, if there is but one legacy I long to leave, it is these words:

“If you don’t remember another thing I say your whole life, please remember this. When suffering hits you out of nowhere. Ask Jesus to come and heal your heart!”

Because in this world we will have troubles. But Jesus overcame the world, and we are more than conquerors in Him. (John 16:33, Romans 8:37) The thing is, we are often clueless about what that really looks like, or how it works. When something awful happens that shakes you to your core; when a word cuts you down until you barely remember who you are. Suffering looms long. How do you recover? And what in the world do we do with the things that happened to us as a kid ourselves? Does it even matter?


Little Melissa

“Little Melissa” wore the same full-face grin you see in the black and white photo of me effortlessly. Until. Something shifted. A light was extinguished, and a smile was lost. Verbal and emotional abuse and many assaults stole the innocence of my childhood and adolescent years. I felt dirty and unworthy of love. I just knew I was nothing more than a huge disappointment to God, and certain I would be to everyone else if they knew.

My healing began when I came out of hiding. Secrets hidden in darkness lose their power when brought into the light. However, the telling alone does not do the complete work of healing. We need God and others to help us face our pain to decipher the messages of our wounds. There’s a recording of lies that plays on repeat in our minds that were spoken in those vulnerable spaces, making them feel so true. In that space it is easiest to question God, ourselves, and others.

Finding Identity

Our real identity gets buried underneath the ashes of many pains; the ones we inflicted upon our self, the ones others inflicted, and the enemy’s cruel infliction of pain upon pain. But, like a prisoner, we can be set free. The prophet Isaiah foretells what Jesus will do for us.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”

Isaiah 61:1-3

The anointed One, Jesus, came to heal us. He is healing me still. It is an intentional interaction between us that I have sought for the past two decades. With His help, I continue to learn how to thrive.

Forgiveness is Key

A couple of years ago, my counselor gave me a forgiveness exercise to work through. It is the kind you don’t rush but approach slowly. I have revisited it many, many times and in different seasons as I work through forgiveness with different persons or groups of people or situations.

The exercise begins by naming the person(s), what they did, and how it made me feel. Then it gives room to process a series of questions, such as: “Am I holding a grudge or have resentments weighing me down? What pain am I holding onto, however recent or distant? What hurts about that situation or moment(s) with that person?” Important statements are addressed, such as, “forgiveness does not mean that they automatically are right, or they get to have the same place in our life.”

Number five on the paper is the one that tripped me up, though. Every. Time. EVERY. TIME. The instruction is to say, “Because I don’t want to carry the weight of this unforgiveness anymore, I am releasing you to God. He knows how to judge completely. I am not in charge of carrying this pain anymore.”

It’s the latter part I couldn’t get past, “I am not in charge of carrying this pain anymore.”

An earth-shattering revelation rose within me.

I had absolutely no clue who I was without pain.

I’d been walking through my own past and the trauma of the girls’ accident with Jesus off and on for years. Facing it with Him became more palatable because He would speak tenderly, expose lies, replace them with Truth, and bring His love in tangible ways as I processed.

But, could I trust Him enough to let go of the pain? What would He do with it?

To throw it away felt diminishing as if the pain didn’t matter. That would not be good because pain was diminished much of my childhood. God would not further impose a wound.

Pain into Beauty?

Someone told me He would turn my pain into something beautiful, from ashes to beauty. While that gave me hope, I still couldn’t let go. Weeks turned to months of wrestling with God over the fifth portion of that forgiveness exercise. Until one day, out on my porch, He reminded me of a few key things other mentors and my counselor had said to me at various points:

  1. the truth that I am seen, and my heart matters
  2. that I am brave, braver than I realize because I face my pain
  3. that stepping into deeper waters for more healing is both a willful and brave act

After this, I let out a guttural cry to God from the depth of my long-aching soul,

“I am bound, and I want to be free! I am bound by pain and hurt, and I want to be free!!”

It was then God tenderly spoke these words,

Bravely face your pain with Me until it becomes a pearl.

becomes a pearl
all images provided by Melissa Pickens

It was like waking from a deep sleep, groggy yet aware something significant is happening. Happening deep within me. A word powerful enough to wake the dead. Yet, the awakening came slowly. First, a vague memory I once learned surfaced: pearls form because something gets in that hurts the oyster or mollusk. Secondly, the fact I love pearls intrigued me; a love so increasing over the years that I started buying a new color of pearl stud earrings for my three daughters and myself every Christmas. Truly, this God-breathed analogy carried significance and weight to it.

Learning About Pearls

Through my research the past couple of years, more richness and depth illuminated the connection of a pearl to our pain, and what God desires to do with it all.

In short, a pearl is a foreign substance covered by layers of nacre; an uninvited parasite invades a tender, sacred space where a mollusk’s vital organs lay vulnerable. Yes, this means the irritant that caused the pain in the first place is still there inside that pearl, now surrounded by a strong, resilient, protective coating.

For us as humans, there are pains that we can shake off, and then there are pains that wound us to our core. Self-inflicted, uninvited actions or words, or even inactions, death, accident/harm/injury, crime, or other significant losses that work their parasitic ways into our hearts and mind. There are many gruesome things we have seen that we cannot unsee. Many things have been done to us that we cannot undo. Our own battles with parasitic sin have added to the shame. They cannot be expelled by our own efforts alone.

My prayer that first day upon receiving the pearl analogy became,

“Let Christ in me be the nacre that comes between me and the irritants and pains until a pearl forms.”

pain becomes a pearl.

I know making time for solitude with God, especially to face your pains feels too hard. Too scary. Impossible even. But there is a God who is strong enough to cover it all. He is bent on your healing. He is the soothing nacre ready to stand between all that has hurt you, even where you’ve hurt yourself.

I am finding pain and joy coexist. No matter how many times deferred hope made my heart sick, hope keeps rising despite it. Because Jesus.

It is from the pages of my story and our family’s story that I write. Ultimately, God is the Author and Hero. The Word that guides my words, I impart to you. I would love for you to join me. It would be an honor to get to know you more over on my website at melissagpickens.com. There, I also go more in-depth with the beauty of the pearl analogy.


Getting My Life Back

My son continued with these words in response to the Family Story page the other day:

“Mom, you have shed your blood, sweat, and tears to chase after the Truth over the last 10 years. You have fought so hard for your own healing. You have let Jesus into the most painful parts of your life to receive that healing. And you have gotten your life back.

Yes, I know there is plenty more to fight for.

This journey that you have been on is still taking its toll on you and your body. It has not been easy, and it has not gotten easier. But it is worth it. And it is rewarding, as you know. The fruits of your labor have been blooming for some time now, and it is so life-giving because of the Breath of Life that flows through it.”

This is the legacy I pray to leave for my children and grandchildren, and their children’s children. To a thousand generations. When we bravely face our disappointments and pain with God until it becomes a pearl, we free the next generation to reach for their own healing and wholeness. It is a journey worth taking and a legacy worth leaving.

Melissa Pickens becomes a pearl
www.melissagpickens.com

She’s a two-time She Speaks graduate with Proverbs 31 Ministries, a BookCamp member with Chad R. Allen (editor and writer coach), and the Co-founder and Women’s Director of Rally Point Ministries. She has spoken at various retreats, conferences, and events. She has publications with the Church of the Nazarene Women’s Ministries and writes weekly for her website MelissaGPickens.com.

Melissa lives in Georgia with her husband, Andy. They have four fun-loving young adult children, born five and a half years apart, and twin grandbabies. You’ll often find her on the upstairs back porch with a decaf latte and some sweet treat she whipped up from scratch the night before on a whim. Learn more about Melissa here. Follow Melissa on social media.


Thank you Melissa for your openness and willingness to share the pain that becomes a pearl. What a beautiful story for us all. I encourage our readers to go to Melissa’s website and subscribe to receive her writings. You will be blessed.

Mandy


AND NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN!

Link-up to the Legacy Link-up. Share a post about how you are leaving a legacy.

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Hispanic Heritage

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month – Legacy Link-up

Meghan Villatoro
Meghan Villatoro www.restoreAmor.com

Please welcome, Meghan J. Villatoro as our guest writer this week as she shares about Hispanic Heritage Month! Meghan is a Marriage Blogger and Podcaster at RestoreAmor.com. She pairs her own experiences and her knowledge as a Marriage Coach to help Christian women who are struggling in their marriages. She has been married to her husband, Adán, for 15 years. And together they have four kids and another on the way. Originally from Long Island, she’s a New Yorker at heart but has lived in her husband’s native country, El Salvador, for over ten years. They are a multicultural family and speak fluent “Spanglish” in their home.

Then don’t forget to Join the Legacy Link-up below with your own heritage post.

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Have you Heard of Hispanic Heritage Month?

It’s a month-long celebration in the United States that runs mid-September through mid-October. September 15 was chosen, because it marks the Independence Day of 5 Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.

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back to school

Back to School How NOT to worry about your Kids

Here we are! It’s time for school again. It’s easy to worry about all the things our children can face attending school. But God doesn’t want us worrying. So I thought it would be a good time to share some helpful resources. I polled some blogging friends for help. (NOTE: There are some affiliate links in this post.)

Teach Your Children Truth

I’d have to say that even before praying for your children, which is highly important, we must teach them daily from the Word. Proverbs says,

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. train up a child.

Proverbs 22:6
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Why We Need to Honor our Historical Heroes

History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.

Sydney J. Harris

Education About our Heroes is Key

When I was in elementary school, we talked about the founding of our nation, our great presidents and leaders, and their character and devotion to liberty. I read and soaked up every biography I could get my hands on. It was important to know about the people that were responsible for building this country. My grandparents’ teachers took it a step further. They memorized speeches and poetry about our nation. My grandmother could quote many of these even just before her death at the age of 85.

You might say, “big deal! What does that matter?”

We are so Forgetful

The big deal is that if we don’t know where we came from we will tend to forget the good and repeat the bad. I’ve been studying the festivals of the Israelites. Erin Davis says in her book, 7 Feasts, “we all have spiritual amnesia, but there is a cure” (Psalm 103:2) I guess it has to do with the carnality of man. We just tend to digress instead of improving and learning from the mistakes of the past (our own and our ancestors).

Thomas Jefferson implied in the Preamble of our Constitution, that there was work to be done. That indeed, still here in 2021, we must work “to create a more perfect union”, always improving. Looking at where we came from and determining that we will not return there. We must do better. But we cannot do better if we are constantly wiping out and erasing the areas that need improvement.

Learning from our Past

In ancient times, empires would blot out anything bad that happened. (This is why there is no record of the Hebrews being in slavery in Egypt. It ended up bad for them; so it was blotted out of the history books). Our culture has been consistently working since the 1960s to blot out of our history books anything they don’t like. To the point that we aren’t really getting much history at all.

It is important for us to look at our past, the good and the bad. Then celebrate what we did right and learn from what was done wrong. Where wrongs were made, we remember to not do that again. We won’t remember in the future if we tear down statues and rename streets and buildings. We must leave them as a reminder. And when we see these statues we tell our children about the mistakes and how were are trying to not repeat them ever again. If we don’t teach our children they won’t even understand enough to tell their children.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

― Ronald Reagan

Inspired by a book!

  • The above is inspired by Eric Metaxas’ If You Can Keep It. A must-read for all Americans. It should be required reading for studying the beginning of our Nation. You know George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But how many of these people are you familiar with? George Whitefield, Alexis de Toqueville, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, Paul Revere, Cincinnatus, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, William Wilberforce, Squanto, Joshua Dewey. There’s more, but you can learn about all of these in this little book about our republic. You do know that we are a republic, not a democracy, right? Eric also has several biographies on these great heroes.

Teach Your Children Well

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,

Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,

And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Psalm 78, NKJV

The Psalmist instructed us to teach our children even the dark things in our history. To tell our children the good and the bad. He was speaking of how the Israelites rebelled many times against the Word of God, but God forgave them and blessed them. This isn’t to imply that we teach our children they can do whatever they want and God will overlook it. No, God allowed them to suffer because of their wrongs, and then He drew them back to the fold of righteousness. This is what we should not forget.

Too many of us have let this all fall into the schools’ responsibilities. This we cannot do. We must teach our children at home as well. I don’t necessarily mean you should homeschool (though I am an advocate). I mean the important things should not be left to the schools. Teach your children to be patriotic (love their country) and to have good character. The schools will expose them to their literature. We should be reading biographies and historical lessons at home and discussing them around the dinner table. Teach your children to think things through and not just believe what they are taught. The Bible even warns us to test our pastors to make sure what they preach is biblical. (I fear most of us don’t go home and “fact check” our pastors.)

Get Involved in What Your Children Are Learning

We can’t leave the education of our children to the schools alone. We must get involved. Here’s a thought, read your child’s required reading along with them and discuss them. Family time can be learning time, too. Be more selective in what movies you watch as a family and the books you read together. There is a lot of educational help online. I once received a weekly email with a story from history to read and discuss. Homeschool websites are available even if you don’t homeschool. Homefires offers a monthly page of videos and books to use that correlate with each day in history.

You can stear them into developing discernment and creating their own beliefs and attitudes. When my children were young, we enjoyed reading about heroes. Even adult books can be read together in small snippets which children can understand when you are reading together.

A few useful books

The below are books part of a series of biographies called The Sowers Series

Other Heroes I have written about

This blog carries many stories of heroes of faith, especially women.

Susanna Wesley

Elizabeth Elliot

Honey for a Child’s Heart includes an extensive bibliography of books listed by age and ability

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It’s Your Turn

Are you writing about heroes? They can be from the past, your family, the Bible. We want to read what your have written. Link-up with us for the Month of June.

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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

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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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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..

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You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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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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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

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Share your own post about finding purpose. (Not neccesarily though chronic pain)

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confidence

Confidence in God ~ ONEWORD for 2021

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

one word confidence

When you have a year like 2020, you can lose perspective on everything. I don’t want to continue living in limbo as we have most of the past year. As I prayed about my new One Word, the Lord seemed to indicate that my word should be “confidence”.

Amazingly, when I shared this with my blog partner, Michele, she said confidence was her ONEWORD as well! We are very excited about sharing our confidence with you this year. We hope you will hang around with us by signing up for the newsletter (see blue bar below) or for notifications (see top of page).

Let’s Get Started With Confidence

To start off on the right foot, let’s take a look at a few scriptures that talk about being confident.

scripture confidence psalm 27:13

This verse encourages me that even when times are tough, God is here with us. He is going to take care of us. He is a good, good Father! I have found this to be true all my life. God is good and He provides for our needs every day. We can look forward into this new year and even if things get worse, God will never leave us alone. He is in control. Look for the goodness of God this year. His goodness is abundant!

He Will Carry It to Completion

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God never abandons us. When He calls us to Himself, it is forever. What God calls us to, He provides whatever is needed for us to accomplish it. His Holy Spirit will guide and direct us until the day He calls us Home.

We Are Encouraged by Paul

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

PHilippians 1:14

We can look at the life of Paul and all His struggles and see that God never abandoned him. He always took care of Paul. This gives us confidence that we also can dare to share the Gospel. It’s an important challenge – to share the Gospel. Time is short and we must tell others about Christ so that they too can have eternal life.

We Will Not Be Ashamed

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

1 John 2:28

I do believe that the Lord’s return is very close. We must continue to grow deeper in the Lord and share the faith. This is how we will be confident to stand before Him on judgment day.


We encourage you to find a reading plan and begin to not only read but study God’s Word. Find a good Bible App. There are so many benefits to meditating on the word. Memorize His promises so that you will remain confident in Christ.

We have taken these scriptures and created some lovely bookmarks for your journey this year. Be sure sign up for the newsletter to receive your free bookmarks.

Confident in Him;

Mandy and Michele

P.S. Sign up for our newsletter and receive printable color scripture bookmarks!

Your Turn!

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We would love to hear about your ONEWORD or resolutions for 2021.

If you didn’t write a post just leave a comment below.

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2021 Resolutions

New Year 2021 is here. There are many folks eagerly burning their 2020 calendar, as well as their COVID masks. I always find it satisfying to sit on New Year’s Eve and write down my resolutions for the coming year. What are some of your 2021 resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions

Where in the world did New Year’s resolutions come from anyway? Well, thanks to good ole Wikipedia, I didn’t have to search very far. According to Wikipedia the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions is mostly us Westerners, but Europeans do some resolutions as well.

Of interest, Wikipedia also mentioned that:

  • Babylonians promised their god(s) to return items they borrowed, as well as pay their debts.
  • Romans made a promise to their god Janus (January is named after this god)
  • Knights would take the “peacock vow“- reaffirming their commitment to chivalry
  • Christians and Jews parallel each other in New Year’s resolutions as a time to reflect upon the past year’s wrongdoings by seeking forgiveness as well as giving forgiveness.

Most folks do make New Year’s resolutions. Cathrine Cho wrote the article “New Year’s resolution statistics“. In this article, she mentions a recent survey in which “of all the generations, the “Gen Z” has the highest percentage of 91.85 % participating, as opposed to the “Silent Generation” at 46.86% participation.” Personally, I’d be interested to find out what percentage of these “Gen Z” folks have successfully completed their resolution(s).

Top 10

I bet you can guess (just like Brad did) what the top New Year resolution is! Ready? DRUM ROLL… Lose weight! Let’s take a look at the top ten resolutions (in no certain order):

  • Quit smoking
  • Read more
  • Learn something new
  • Lose weight
  • Get more organized
  • Curb spending/ save money
  • Exercise
  • Spend more time with friends and family (if COVID hasn’t done that for you)
  • Travel more
  • Be more adventurous

Easier said than done

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It is easy to write down your resolutions, but much harder to follow through with them. Much of your success is going to be determined by how motivated you are. The Journal of Psychology published a study done on resolutions and found:

Resolvers reported higher rates of success than non-resolvers; at six months, 46% of the resolvers were continuously successful compared to 4% of the non-resolvers. Self-efficacy, skills to change, and readiness to change assessed before January 1 all predicted positive outcomes for resolvers.

-J Clin Psychol. 2002 Apr;58(4):397-405. doi: 10.1002/jclp.1151
John C Norcross
 1Marci S MrykaloMatthew D Blagys

Our takeaway here? We must RESOLVE to follow through with our resolutions. This leads us to ask the question “How can I be successful at following through with my resolutions?”

Successful resolutions

We can be successful in setting realistic goals for our resolutions. A great mnemonic to use is SMART:

  • S – Specific
  • M- Measurable
  • A- Attainable
  • R- Realistic
  • T- Time-Bound

A positive attitude and positive self-talk help in following through with your resolutions; making the work of achieving them enjoyable. Ask a friend to help give encouragement and be an accountability partner. Lastly, be flexible. Sometimes life hits some unexpected bumps. You may have to hold off on a certain resolution and restart it at a later date. This is not to be seen as a failure.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT RESOLUTION

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Friends, the time has come. Don’t go into 2021 without making Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. There is no person on this earth that is perfect; without sin. We were ALL born sinners in need of a savior. God sent us his only son Jesus Christ.

Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying for you and me on the cross. His death completely removed any sin from your life, giving you eternal life. You have done nothing to earn it, it’s a gift of grace. You can have the peace of knowing you’re saved by asking Jesus into your life and ask for forgiveness. Simply bow your head and pray this prayer:

The Sinner’s Prayer

Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith, I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.

Dr. Ray Pritchard

God knows the sincerity of your heart and hears you. Be assured, that by asking him TO FORGIVE YOU (the most important part, we need forgiveness) for your sins, he has heard you and has forgiven you. Find a local pastor or get in touch with a friend who is walking out a Christian life, and they will help you get connected with a church and walk with you on your new journey as a Christian.

Some great resources on the internet are:

As always friends, here is to good food, good friends, and a great life awaiting us in eternity. Jesus is coming soon!

Michele

Resources:


It’s Your Turn

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We would like to hear about your resolutions and/or your OneWord for 2021. Please linkup with us at Legacy Link-up. And please read/share/comment on at least two other posts. Thank you. If you didn’t write about it, leave a comment.

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