Feel the Pain

I didn’t understand the severe impact sexual abuse had on me.  For years I wasn’t able to grasp the depth of my pain. I knew something was wrong, yet I rejected the possibility that it was connected to my childhood sexual abuse.   I criticized myself and minimized my experience.

 

Stop overreacting; you’ve only suffered a minor offense. It’s no big deal.

You’re weak and incapable of shrugging off a bad experience. Move on.

 

But I couldn’t move on.  More guilt. If the solution was that easy, what was wrong with me?

Was I too weak? Defective?

Why couldn’t I forget my abuse?

I must have asked myself those questions hundreds of times. I wanted to bury the past or at least ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. I was stuck.

 

Today I know I wasn’t weak. Struggling with the effects of sexual abuse is expected and the rule, not the exception. My past and all its pain were knocking on the door of the emotional closet I’d stuffed them into, and those emotions wanted out.

I understood that opening the door and acknowledging the past were the only way to move on, but I couldn’t do it. Facing the raw truth of sexual abuse terrified me. Instead, I suppressed my pain and remained emotionally frozen.

As long as I was strong and in control, everything seemed okay.  But when I opened the door of my past sexual abuse, I felt overwhelmed; afraid of my vulnerability and emotional weakness.

 

I have to feel this—I need to heal.

It took me two years to form those words in my thoughts and even longer to say them aloud. But once I accepted that I needed to feel if I wanted to heal, I repeated the words to myself out loud.

I needed to feel, to grieve my unresolved sorrow, and find peace with my past.

I’m not alone.

Sexual abuse is a wounding invasion—a molestation of mind and soul. When it happens, (and it happens all too often) it shatters our emotions, our trust, and our ability to trust. It destroys feelings of security.  We are stripped of our boundaries. We feel powerless, vulnerable, and fearful. We’ve been intimidated—our self-confidence, decimated.

Survivors have described other struggles:

• Shame and guilt

• A sense of worthlessness and damaged self-esteem

• Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks

• Sleep disturbances

  • Eating disorders

• Impaired memory and flashbacks

• Fear of trust and intimacy

• Depression and suicidal thoughts

Yes, sexual assault cuts deeply.  To be whole we must be honest about the psychological imprint abuse leaves on us as survivors. Everyone’s experience is different, but no matter what form of sexual abuse we encountered, it left its mark.

For me, being honest about my abuse meant accepting the fact that it wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t bad.  I worked at feeling compassion toward myself by thinking kind and sympathetic thoughts that replaced the voice of my ever-present, inner-critic with the disappointed, scolding tone.

I still teetered on the side of intolerance when my emerging, tender spirit  showed signs of breaking through, but  that’s  when I mustered the words to remind myself,

Sexual abuse is a big deal, I will acknowledge that what was done against me was horrifically wrong.

Self-compassion is still a challenge for me. It’s easy to slip back into my default system and become harsh and demanding on myself. I have to remember I’m not bad for having needs, and I’m not flawed for wanting love.

Maybe you have a story too. Sexual abuse, regardless of its nature, has left a horrific impact on you. It’s scarred your heart.

I encourage you to be honest about the pain of your sexual abuse and recognize and feel the damage that was done to you.  Healing is possible, and you can explore the depths of your wounds and begin recovery.

About Dawn Scott Jones:

 

Dawn Scott Jones is a survivor who has been sharing her testimony for more than twenty years. She is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, is the creator of numerous audio teaching products, and has served in a variety of leadership and ministry roles.  dawnscott.org
For a chance to win a copy of her book, enter the drawing on our website here.

Listen to internet radio with CWA Radio on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

Women Redeemed Webcast

Monday, September 17th we’ll be joined by Kim, Teske, and Dawn. Each has a story to tell. 3 Women Redeemed from the shame, hurt and grief. Together they share encouragement and advice about how to survive life’s toughest issues: abortion, miscarriage/infant loss, and abuse. Three women and three books, offering hope to women who are desperately seeking support, understanding and healing.

Normally at Grace Café, we would spend an hour with each woman, but we’ll save that for another time. Today they’re coming to briefly tell their stories and how their lives are intertwined to create a webcast on Thursday, September 20 that will allow women to come together in a non-threatening, open and loving environment to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope.

So why is it important to discuss these topics? Here are just a few of the staggering statistics on the topics:

Abortion:

  • It is estimated that 13% of abortions are performed on self-described ‘born again’ or evangelical Christians.
  • The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) reports that 46% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant and an additional 27% identify themselves as Catholic. If true, these statistics reveal that more than 70% of all abortions in the United States are performed on Christian women.
  • 85% of women say abortions cause mental health issues, including sorry, sadness, guilt, regret, grief, and disappointment.

Miscarriage and Infant Loss:

  • The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that as many as 31% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
  • An estimated 19% of all the adult population has experienced the death of a child.
  • An in-utero death after 20 weeks is considered a stillbirth.
  • A stillbirth occurs once every twenty minutes.
  • Approximately 26,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year.

Abuse:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 80% of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. It’s proven that the effects of childhood abuse follow women into adulthood.
  • 90% of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers, and neighbors.
  • 80% of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. 1/3 of people who are sexually abused become abusers themselves.

We’re having difficulty with our ability to add videos. Our Web Design team is aware of the problem and will help us figure it out as soon as we are next in line. In the meantime, click the link and view the video on YouTube.

Here’s the link to register for the Webcast Event on Facebook.

Pull up a chair, grab some coffee and join us right here at 11:00 a.m. EST to listen, or here the archive from here. If you’d like to take advantage of conversation in the chat room if you’re listening LIVE, then use this link.

Listen to internet radio with CWA Radio on Blog Talk Radio

 

 

God Remains

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak; but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.”     Psalm 73:26

 

Have you ever met individuals who have this overflowing  joy, inner strength and peace that seems inexplicable?

Time and again I come across individuals who are suffering from a chronic illness, going through a heart wrenching loss, or even told they have months to live, yet they seem to have this overwhelming peace and inner strength within them.

How can this be? The answer is in this verse – God remains. Everything and everyone can leave us, but one thing will always remain – GOD!

He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. God remains! God is – always was – and always will be – God remains!

The key to this overflowing joy and strength is that we remain in Him. Trust Him for our very being – our every need, resting in His tender loving arms, giving Him all of our cares and woes, realizing that we can do nothing in our own strength. All we are and ever hope to be is in His merciful hands.

It is difficult at times with our chronic illness, pain, and trials of this life to always seem to go around with a smile as though everything is just fine.  This verse is not saying that. Look closer, the Psalmist has already admitted that his health is failing. Look what He has to say next. “My spirit may grow weak!”  He is “spent” physically and even spiritually, but He knows one thing and that one thing gives Him the strength to continue another day another moment.  What is that one thing?  God remains!

Where does their joy, peace and strength come from when all else has left them?  God remains! This one thing, this hope and promise will give each of us the strength to remain in a God who has made His dwelling place our heart.

Dear gracious heavenly Father, when all of life seems to overwhelm us, and our strength is gone, may we remain in You as You promise to always remain in us.  May we remember that You are the strength our heart.  In Jesus name, Amen.

About Michele:

Michele Williams lives in a beautiful Pennsylvania mountain community with her husband of 38 years. They have a beautiful grown daughter, caring son-in-law, awesome teenage grandson and three furry children who bring them joy.

Through the years, Michele and Jim have lived and ministered in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Arizona. God has uniquely gifted her to be used in all aspects of the church ministry, including being a Pastor’s wife, and beyond. Child Evangelism, Regional Women’s Ministry Leadership, Nursing Home Ministry, Homeless Ministry, Wellness Ministry, Motivational Speaker, Christian Counselor and Freelance Writer.  She’s also been a Kindergarten teacher; bookkeeper; and office administrator for various businesses.

Michele’s experienced various challenges in her life: an abusive father; parents divorced twice; miscarriages; hysterectomy in her 20’s; wayward child; family members with various chronic health and mental illness; death of their fathers, step-father and her mother-in-law; care of her aging mother; foreclosure; financial problems; just to name a few.

Since 1985 Michele live with multiple chronic illnesses: Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Peripheral Neuropathy, Interstitial cystitis, IBD, chemical sensitivities, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, and treated for SLE Lupus (among other illnesses).

Even though Michele’s illnesses have been debilitating, she says, “The Lord continues to be a faithful Friend, showing me that I am still an exceptionally useful vessel worthy of His use. Through all the pain, trials and sufferings there have been many more blessings.”

Please visit Michele’s encouraging and informative blog, “Beelieve You Can,” where she inspires her readers  to claim and quote daily Psalm 18:29:“In Your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall” (NLT).

You can contact her at free2soarhigher@aol.com

 

Have Hope – Life Beyond Crohn’s

This is part 2 of Max Andrews’ journey with Crohn’s Disease. Click here to view part 1, and to see Max’s bio. Blessings of Having a Disease.

My name is Max Andrews and I have Crohn’s disease and have battled with it for eight years. I recently had a major surgery in which I had 15cm of my small intestine, a few inches of my colon, and my appendix removed.

There is no cure for Crohn’s and post-surgery there is usually a 50% chance of remission. Well, I have a 70% chance it will actually get worse and I will have more problems and surgeries down life’s path.

Crohn’s is responsible for the lowest valleys in my life. There were many times when I thought it was over for me and that this was all in vain. What I held on to, which got me through, and still gets me through all this, is hope. Hope that this will all have meaning and purpose to it. Hope is what makes me persevere.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

(Please click here to help me and others.)

I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

It was about this time in the afternoon last year I was waking up in the recovery room.  I lost about three inches of my colon, 15 cm of my small intestine, and my appendix. I was sitting up in the bed. I opened my eyes and saw my surgeon sitting behind the nurse station doing paper work. He looked up at me and then looked back down. I knew I was okay. Then I felt an incredible amount of pain. A couple of nurses learned I was awake and came to my aid trying to comfort me. They told me my pain had to be down to a 6 before they’d let me out. The pain was at least a 9. I confess–I lied. I told them it was a 6 and they let me out. I just wanted to see my family.

You can read about my experience with Crohn’s in last year’s posts:

The Crohn’s Chronicles: Second Thoughts
The Blessings of Having a Disease
An Update on my Brief Hiatus

So, one year later… To be honest, I have thought about that day and experience every single day since. I still have physical pain and experience this pain every day. The doctors think it may be misfiring neurons–a phantom pain.  I can’t sleep at night because I can still feel that something inside of my gut is missing and it makes me uncomfortable in certain positions. I ended up spending 30 days in the hospital last year.  I have a 70% chance that I’ll get worse and that I’ll need surgery again in as soon as five years. I’ve been happy. I’ve been grateful. I’ve been sad. I’ve been angry. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t make pain and suffering any easier. I’ve lectured for hours to university undergraduates on philosophy and the problem of evil. How can a good, omnipotent, and loving God allow such pain in this world? Sure, when we work it out philosophically and theologically it doesn’t become that big of a problem and we can make sense of it. However, experiencing it doesn’t make it any better and it’s not as clear as on paper. I’ve had doubts. I won’t lie about that. But you know what?

I have hope.

Back to my prayer right before surgery. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Religion with a specialization in Biblical Studies and I’m almost done with an MA in Philosophy. I’m not ignorant of doctrine and theology, yet this was the first time I understood justification by faith alone. When I was praying I became incredibly conscious of my own sin and evil. My body may have been out of it from the drugs, but my mind was the sharpest it had ever been in this moment. I realized that there was nothing I could to atone for my own sins. If that moment was indeed the last few minutes of my conscious life, I couldn’t do anything to save myself. I couldn’t justify my wrongs. I couldn’t make things right. I mean, yes, I knew and understood justification by faith alone, but it was never as clear to me as it was then.

C.S. Lewis said that we don’t suffer the way the world suffers. We suffer differently. Why? Because we have hope. Without God there is no objective justice. In the end, the universe will either expand to maximum entropy or suffer a heat death and collapse back in on itself. Life is utterly absurd without objective meaning, purpose, and value.  Life can be subjectively absurd–like my inability to understand the meaning, purpose, or even value behind my pain. I can construct my own scaffolding of meaning, purpose, and value behind it but in the words of the early twentieth century atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, this is a scaffolding of despair.

I ask that you consider helping me and share a message of hope by buying a shirt, which serves as a donation.  After 50 shirts are sold the proceeds will help me pay off a great deal of medical bills. Also, please see my video below.

Yes, my life is changed and I have physical and existential pains but my life is good and I don’t have the right to complain. God is good.

Please take a few minutes and view watch this video chronicling Max’s journey over the past year.


Thank you, Max for sharing your journey with us. May God’s grace and peace be multiplied to you and Leah both. You are loved.

 

The Blessings of Having a Disease

Today we’re joined by Max Andrews. This is part one of his journey/battle with Crohn’s Disease. He wrote this a year ago on his blog, Sententias. Approximately 6 weeks later he found himself having an expected major surgery. Thursday,  Max will join us again and chronicle the surgery and disease that has altered his life forever.  His official bio is below.

His unofficial bio by me (Marsha) is that he’s my first cousin once removed (my cousin’s son).  He graduated from Liberty University in 2010, got Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies ·Philosophy of Religion · in 2012, also from Liberty University. He’s presently a Graduate Assistant at Liberty University in the Philosophy Department. He’s preparing  to do his Doctorate work at the University of Edinburgh (where he’s been accepted), Oxford or Cambridge (which he won’t hear from until Spring).

Disclaimer: All the views expressed on Max’s website are not necessarily the views of Grace Café. But we welcome healthy discussion.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in May 2004 at the end of my Junior year of high school. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease and mine happens to be in my terminal ileum atthe end of my small intestine.  When I first went to the emergency room seven years ago I felt like someone had reached into my gut and started twisting my organs around while I was digesting glass.  It was, and is, extremely painful and nauseating.  It was about the sixth day in the hospital when the doctor diagnosed me.  I wept once he left the room because I knew that this had ruined my life dreams of serving in the U.S. Army as an intelligence analyst.  Well, seven years later I can look at this disease and honestlysay that it has been one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

I’ve had a flare up (reoccurrence) about once a year since I was first diagnosed.  I refused long-term medication for a while since it started out as a mild case and medication wouldn’t allow me to join the Army.  I graduated high school and took a year off before going to college so I could work with the Army and doctors so I could enlist.  My attempts fell short and I could not overturn or appeal my medical disqualification.  It had been my dream since I was a young child.  I have a very patriotic family and both of my grandfathers served.  My mother’s father was an NCO in the U.S. Air Force around the Korean War and worked with nuclear bombs.  My father’s father was an officer in the U.S. Navy and served on the U.S.S. Dauphin. I felt it was my duty to serve my country.  I excelled in J.R.O.T.C. in high school as the Battalion Commander, the leader of over 250 other cadets and I was one of the most decorated (if not the most decorated) cadets in the school’s history.  I studied government until my second semester sophomore year of college.  I knew then that I was called to something greater; I knew that God had a specific purpose for me and his purpose was greater than anything I could have planned for.  I then became an undergraduate biblical studies student and I’m now a philosophy graduate student.  However, these are peripheral details that resulted from my Crohn’s.  The blessing is so much greater than any classes I’ve ever taken.

God used Crohn’s to alter the course of my life.  This one event was a catalyst for so many changes.  Since getting Crohn’s I have gotten saved.  Since being saved I started asking myself the deeper questions of life and existence, which led me to study philosophy.  My relationship with God continually grows and I think about God throughout the entire day.  There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about God or ask him questions about him and existence.  God has used Crohn’s as a means to demonstrate my purpose in life.  Well, it’s not so much that I know my meta-purpose, so to speak, but it’s a way that God has shown me thatI do have purpose and meaning. When I think about the way my life would have been without Crohn’s I don’t believe I would appreciate my existence and God’s work as much as I do now; because of that I have no problem believing Crohn’s is a gift from God.

My Crohn’s has gotten worse in the last six months.  Last December I spent four days in the hospital while visiting family in Pennsylvania.  I had bad Crohn’s pain and vomited nearly two dozen times in just a few hours.  I’ve been in another flare up for the last two weeks and the pain has gotten bad in the last few days.  Yesterday, as I hovered over the sink having just vomited, sweaty and in pain, I thought to myself, “Is this really a blessing, Max? Is this really a gift from God?”  My inner monologue soon responded with and emphatic “absolutely…”  Why do I equate all the [what would usually be called] happy or good things with blessings (i.e. achieving a challenging goal, having a surplus in the family budget, good health, making it into the right school, getting the right job or career, etc.).  Why do we not always consider pain and suffering a blessing?  My pain and suffering have been very minimal, and that too is a blessing (I’m not going to neglect the usual “good” things either), but pain and suffering have allowed me to be spiritually and intellectually honest with myself, others, and God.  So many times we equate “bad” things like disease, cancer, disasters, etc., with pointless suffering or judgment from God.  Why is suffering always unwanted? Perhaps because it is what it is, painful. Not only is the pain physical but mental and spiritual as well. Disease, cancer, and disasters wound and kill.  Why is death feared and always treated like an enemy?  For those who do not have their sins atoned for they are justified in fearing pain and death because this is as good as it gets for them.  I’m not anti-medicine. I believe we should do what we can to stay alive but if we’ve done all we can to alleviate pain and prolong life why make an enemy with what remains?

This isn’t always easy.  Pain and suffering are ideally avoided, but when it happens own it. I believe God controls every tiny detail in life from allowing you to stub your toe in the morning to suffering through painful cancer, there is purpose and meaning in that.  The first chapter in the book of James calls for us to consider trials a joy.  This is a beautiful paradox because our knee-jerk reaction to trials, pain, and suffering are usually turning against God or being angry.  It’s quite the contrary. God uses trials, pain, and suffering as a means of preserving us through his grace and this grace is what enables us to persevere in faith.  Remember, this grace is manifested in the pain and suffering and we need to know that there is purpose and meaning in it.  We don’t have to know what it is but we need to know it’s there.  I’m still going through Crohn’s pains right now and I’m currently being treated with long-term medication.  This disease is incurable and it can only be controlled at best, but I thank God for giving me this disease.

About Max Andrews:

I am  a husband and a philosophy graduate student.  My graduate research is in philosophy of science and religion.  My thesis is on the fine-tuning argument from cosmology and physics in multiverse scenarios.  I have lectured in logic, existentialism, metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of science, theological liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, personhood, free will and determinism, theological fatalism, axiology, moral argument for the existence of God, various cosmological arguments for the existence of God, fine-tuning argument for the existence of God, and the problem of evil.  Following my graduate work I plan on pursuing my Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science: Physics with aspirations of attaining a professorship at a university.

Contact: mlandrews[at]sententias.org

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Welcome to our guest blogger, Michele Williams.

Image by allshous on Photobucket

“Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”

Remember Gomer Pyle, the simple-minded gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. back in the 1960’s?  He was often awestruck by the simplest of things, resulting in the exclamation of his catchphrases, “Shazam!”, “Gaaw-aawl-ly” and “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”

The last on is how I’ve felt over the past 28 years living with chronic illness. Most illnesses when you least expect it, bringing many unwanted and unexpected surprises.

There are a few surprises that have pleasantly surprised me and my family. For years I had been a person who was always busy ‘doing’. I worked full-time outside the home, involved in various ministries, wife, mother, and homemaker. I took care of everyone but me. Then it finally caught up with me.

10 years ago, life as I knew it came to a complete halt. My body shouted, “You didn’t take the numerous hints I gave you over the years, so I quit!” Between the pain, multiple infections, brain fog, fatigue and depression, etc., I was at a complete stand still in all aspects of my life. Even a simple conversation was difficult. Praying and reading my Bible became a chore. Through sheer desperation, I cried out to God, “I give up! I no longer have the strength to live.” The still small voice of the Lord whispered;

“Now I finally have your attention! It’s not in your strength, but Mine!”

At that moment, I relinquished my will and yielded to God’s will for my life. I chose to live each day to its fullest – to live simply, love deeply, and laugh often. If this means all I do today is sit and listen as my daughter shares her day with me, then that is God’s will for my life today. I am making a conscious effort not to let things get to me. If it doesn’t get done today, there is always tomorrow or the next day.

“Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

What a difference this made in my life and the life of my family. Imagine their surprise as I became content with my life and in return became a happier person to be around.

“But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way!” Romans 6:22 (The Message Bible)

I remember several years ago my family was gathered together, and we were describing each other using one word. When it came to me, my grandson said, “Funny”, my son-in-law said, “Crazy”, my sweet daughter said, “Loving,” and my very supportive husband just smiled and laughed!

Chronic illness has brought many surprises to my life and my family–but the best surprise of all is that I’ve become a joyful, mellow, playful, thankful, giving, loving, wife, mother, grandmother and most of all faithful child of our merciful God!

It’s not how many times we go to church, how many ministries we are involved in, or how busy we are for God. Whether we have a chronic illness or not – the answer to a blessed, joyful, Christian life is the following:

“Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, you must do all for the glory of God. “ 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 (NKJV)

Question: What surprise(s) has chronic illness brought to your life or a family member’s life? Please share it with us in the comment box below?

 

About Michele:

Michele Williams lives in a beautiful Pennsylvania mountain community with her husband of 38 years. They have a beautiful grown daughter, caring son-in-law, awesome teenage grandson and three furry children who bring them joy.

Through the years, Michele and Jim have lived and ministered in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Arizona. God has uniquely gifted her to be used in all aspects of the church ministry, including being a Pastor’s wife, and beyond. Child Evangelism, Regional Women’s Ministry Leadership, Nursing Home Ministry, Homeless Ministry, Wellness Ministry, Motivational Speaker, Christian Counselor and Freelance Writer.  She’s also been a Kindergarten teacher; bookkeeper; and office administrator for various businesses.

Michele’s experienced various challenges in her life: an abusive father; parents divorced twice; miscarriages; hysterectomy in her 20’s; wayward child; family members with various chronic health and mental illness; death of their fathers, step-father and her mother-in-law; care of her aging mother; foreclosure; financial problems; just to name a few.

Since 1985 Michele live with multiple chronic illnesses: Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Peripheral Neuropathy, Interstitial cystitis, IBD, chemical sensitivities, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, and treated for SLE Lupus (among other illnesses).

Even though Michele’s illnesses have been debilitating, she says, “The Lord continues to be a faithful Friend, showing me that I am still an exceptionally useful vessel worthy of His use. Through all the pain, trials and sufferings there have been many more blessings.”

Please visit Michele’s encouraging and informative blog, “Beelieve You Can,” where she inspires her readers  to claim and quote daily Psalm 18:29: “In Your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall” (NLT).

You can contact her at free2soarhigher@aol.com

Hope For the Hurting

My heart is full.

So many I know are hurting emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Some days I’m called to pray, others He calls me to go and sit along side those who are hurting, to be a stretcher bearer.

As a society, we seem to have lost the ability to be stretcher bearers for the hurting. We make excuses.“Why should I visit this person?”  “ I’m really not that close to them.”  “I can’t do anything anyway. I don’t have anything to say. I’d only be in the way.”

We seem to have forgotten that it is often in “useless,” unpretentious, humble presence with one another that consolation and comfort is found. To make ourselves available to someone in need is difficult because we’re put in the position of being vulnerable to others and experiencing their weakness and powerlessness. We become part of the uncertainty and unknown, and must yield control of knowing what to do in a situation. And yet, when we become a stretcher bearer, we see a new strength and hope born in the hearts of those who are hurting.

By offering comfort and consolation, by just being there and staying with someone during those times of illness, mental anguish or spiritual darkness, a strange phenomenon often occurs. We grow close with the person and build a bond that is as strong as any blood ties, simply because we entered into the dark, uncharted waters with them.

Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NJKV

There are so many simple, tangible ways to help those who are hurting. Are are just a few simple suggestions.

  • Come with a bucket of cleaning supplies and clean the bathrooms, floors and inside the windows.
  • Run errands for them.
  • Take care of getting the children to and from school.
  • Come and sit with no agenda. Just hold their hand and let them vent.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

And for those of you who are hurting, let me encourage you with this truth. God is always with us. He’s an ever present help in our times of need. He came to be a part of our lives and offers us grace and truth. He may or may not choose to answer all our questions, or solve our problems, but the comfort comes in knowing He is with us.

His deepest desire is for us to enter into an intimate relationship with Him. To be yoked with Him through the fellowship of suffering. ( Philippians 3:10) By acknowledging Him as Emmanuel, God With Us, we find in Him the One who lives with us. He shares our joys and sorrows, He defends and protects us.

It is in the intimacy of realizing He is with us that we rest in the tender, compassionate arms of a God that loves and cares for us more than we will ever know.

Is your heart broken today? Have you lost a loved one, are you struggling with chronic pain, or seen the death of a dream? Listen closely. He may be whispering to you as He holds you close.

“My heart is large enough to hold your hurts as well as your joy.  I am with you in tears and in laughter.

You may be tempted to think that I have afflicted you. But I have not treated you badly and I have not forgotten you. I do not love you less when things go wrong. My love for you is from everlasting to everlasting. My love for you is perfect. Powerful.

I am always at work within you.

Let Me comfort your hurting heart.”

With All My Love,

Your Heavenly Father

This week we’ll be featuring some of my family members who often suffer silently with their invisible chronic illnesses. Please check back each day and read about their journeys with Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and Chron’s Disease. They’re journey’s are inspiring.



 



 


 

Welcome

Grace Cafe goes online.