Dear Skillet – Thank You

Dear Skillet,

I know you more than likely not see this but just in case you happen to find yourselves in this corner of the inter webs, I wanted to say thank you. You have no idea how much your music has carried me through some of my darkest moments. Your music keeps me dancing, your lyrics keep me fighting, and your message keeps my heart focused on the reality that I am never alone. As dark as it feels at times, I have a Savior and Hero that has created me with a plan and a purpose that surpasses all understanding.

I have struggled with chronic illness for over ten years. I was a panhead before my first diagnosis but as time passed and the diagnoses started piling up, it has taken my appreciation for your music to a deeper level. It would be nearly impossible to pick out favorites but I thought I would share how three songs in particular that have carried me when I needed it most.

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Luke 8:43-48. So many times I feel like that woman going doctor to doctor looking for help. When you spend years hearing “we know you are sick but there is nothing we can do to treat it,” it is easy to become discouraged and wonder if life is worth living if every day is spent in pain. It can be easy to allow your faith to be swallowed up in your grief. I think this is why Come My Way is so close to my heart. I have learned that sometimes healing doesn’t come in the form we expect or want. While I still yearn for physical healing and believe that God has the power to do so, I have learned that true healing comes from the inside out. God has healed my heart and has overcome my life with a power that goes beyond anything physical.

In this journey of healing, I have had to redefine my understand my relationship and my understand of who God is. I grew up in a church where you didn’t ask questions. The hand you got dealt was the one you got dealt and if you are sick, then God must have wanted you to be sick. I could not understand how that made sense. It just did not align with what I knew in my heart. So as time passed and the diagnoses started to pile up and my husband and I were knee-deep in our battle with infertility, I had to wrestle. For the first time, I began asking questions and sought to find out for myself what faith meant on a deeply personal level.

I wanted to understand not only what I believe but why I believed it. I learned many of the answers I was looking for but I also learned that there would be times where there were no answers. I learned to put my trust and hope into something much bigger. When I didn’t understand the why’s of life, I could understand the Who. I learned that I would have times that I wouldn’t know why things were happening or what lied ahead but I could trust in the One who writes my days. It is that trust that would carry me. Even when the path seemed dark, God would put reminders in my path to remind me that I am not alone. Whispers In The Dark was one of those reminders. I cannot put into words how much this song has meant to me. God has used the words to help me understand that God still has a plan for my life even when I cannot see it just yet. Every day I must make a choice. I can allow my illness to make me bitter of I can choose to honor Him in spite of it. He can give purpose to my pain.

The last year has been the hardest. Treatments that once worked have failed. Despite second, third, and fourth opinions, the conclusion is the same. My daughter is old enough to recognize that I am sick and asks why the doctors can’t make me feel better. My husband has had to take on the role of caregiver much too soon. Even though God has brought me on a beautiful journey of a deeper understanding of who He is and what faith really means, I wish I could say that the struggle was over. I wish I could say that I never had moments of wondering if things would be better off without me.

I really wish I could but that would be a lie.

Thankfully, my journey doesn’t end here. I serve a God much bigger than anything the Enemy tries to dish out. It is not my strength that gets me through each day but His. Christ came to break my chains and set my heart free. Not Gonna Die has served as a reminder to keep fighting. It would be easy to give up but God does not always call us on a journey that is easy. He does, however, promise that we do not have to go on this journey alone. Not only is He with me but He has placed so many amazing people in my life to fight alongside of me. God has surrounded me with reminders of His love and His power and God has opened so many doors that have allowed me to share my testimony of faith and triumph with so many people that I would not have otherwise been able to share it with had I not been diagnosed with my illnesses. Through the roller coaster of infertility and adoption, I have been able to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be adopted through Christ. By watching my daughter’s birthmother love her and be selfless enough to place her in our arms has given me such a deeper understanding of God’s grace and love.

While life has been full of trials, God has blessed me so deeply and I know I would not have the relationship I have with Him without those challenges. I would not have compassion without the suffering and while I would never have signed up for this life, I would not change anything because of what God has allowed me to be a part of through it.

Again, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your message. Thank you for your music. God has used you in an amazing way to change my life. To save my life. I could not be more grateful.

P.S. We definitely have a little Pinhead in our household. Her favorite song is “Monster” and she wanted to be “Skillet Girl” (her reference to Jen) for Halloween so thank you for sharing music that not only teaches the message but that we can also rock for Jesus!

Dear Skillet: Thank You

Reclaiming Grace

2014 has been off to a rough start. It seems like it has been one thing after another and the resulting anxiety has been overwhelming. I have struggled with feeling empty physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and with that comes guilt and shame.

I am a youth pastor’s wife who feels like a wall has been built between myself and God.

I have not lost my faith. I know wholeheartedly that God is in control and I cling to His promises fully. The proof of His love and provision is all around me.

During the trials that have surrounded me, I know that He is with me and He has never moved. I have. My tank has run empty and I have not let His grace fill me up.

If you deal with chronic illness, you know how exhausting it is on every level and in every part of your life. Actually I’m not sure the word exhaustion can even begins to describe it. It is a fatigue that seeps into your bones and into every corner of your spirit.

In efforts of self-preservation, I shut down. I yearn so badly to be filled but I feel so full of guilt and shame that I push it away. I should be stronger than this. I am not only married to a pastor but I have my own call to ministry and here I am swallowed up in a sea of desperation and feel like I’m treading water just to maintain.

I am exhausted.

And then today happened.

I received the results from my biopsy results from last week’s EGD. All of the biopsy results came back normal but one. My celiac disease is being controlled by my gluten-free diet and I have healed wonderfully since my diagnosis almost four years ago. It is what they found in my stomach that made me hold my breath.

When the nurse went over my doctors notes after my EGD last week, she mentioned that they had found and removed a gastric polyp but not to worry because they are common and turn out to be not that big of a deal.

But this one wasn’t.

The polyp that they removed is called an adenoma. Adenomas are the least common type of stomach polyp, but the most likely type to become stomach cancer (source).

I almost dropped the phone. The nurse assured me that they removed everything they needed to during the procedure, nothing was left behind, and I am 100% ok. I would just need to be closely monitored with EGDs to make sure that nothing comes back. I could breathe again.

As I sat on the bed trying to process everything, I went back to the day I sat in the doctors office last month scheduling the procedures. She had only planned on doing the colonoscopy but something inside me told me to push to have an EGD done at the same time. Since I do not test positive in blood work for Celiac, an EGD is the only way to monitor the disease so she agreed. If I was under and cleaned out, they might as well check both ends.

But what if I hadn’t asked for the EGD? What if this polyp not caught and removed early like it was? When would we have found it?

Those were scary questions to ask and I found myself face down on the floor.

At that moment there could have been no greater reminder of the sovereignty of God. He was the one that pushed me to ask for that EGD. He was the one that helped my doctor find the polyp early enough to be found and completely removed. He was the one waiting to rescue me.

In that moment I felt His grace and mercy poured down on me like rain. All this time He had been whispering, “I am here” and I finally pushed myself out of the way so I could hear it. I could feel the walls crumbing.

Today is the first step in healing. Today is the day I give my heart back. Today is the day I reclaim my place. At the foot of the cross.

In Need of Grace

Photo Credit: Jasmic via Compfight cc