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

A New Direction: Redefining Life With Chronic Pain

Redefining My Life With Chronic Pain

As I have mentioned 2014 has not been off to the greatest start and honestly I feel like I have spent most of my time passed back and forth between my doctors with one saying the other was the problem. The pelvic specialist thought that my Celiac was the problem. My GI thought that scar tissue was the problem. My pain specialist just thinks I am falling apart. Needless to say I have struggled staying positive and often wondered if I was just a lost cause and if chronic pain would continue to define my days.

Last week I had an appointment with my primary doctor so we could just lay everything out on the table and come up with a plan. We were able to look at all of the test results and procedure results along with my history. She has been my doctor from the beginning so after almost 11 years, she and I had quite a bit of history. I know that God had designed for our paths to meet as He knew the type of support I would need for my journey. As a scared college kid, I sat in the office of the new doctor who had just come to town. Coincidence? I think not. Within three months of my initial exam, I was diagnosed and began treatment for endometriosis (some women have to suffer for years before nailing down the diagnosis). In all of the time since then she has never once made me feel like I was crazy. Never once has she doubted or brushed off my experience. Never once has she made me feel like I was just a number. Over the last 11 years, she has laughed with me and cried with me so when I felt like I was at the end of my nope, I knew that she could help pull me back in.

So last Thursday she and I along with my husband (and the NP student who just happened to be shadowing my doctor), we laid everything out. Surgery was definitely not an possibility because I am so high risk because of my history of adhesions and obstructions. At this point surgery would only be an option in an emergency (like another total bowel obstruction). I felt relieved (as I still have nightmares about my last surgery) and overwhelmed (as I wasn’t sure what other options we had).

We decided that the next step should be getting a second opinion from a pain specialist. If you have read my blog for awhile, you may have noticed that I am not too fond of my current pain specialist (and I happened to find out that the other doctors in the area aren’t fond of him either) but being in a small town and knowing all of the restrictions involved in seeing a pain specialist, I was too worried that attempting to find a new one would cause problems (such as looking like I was shopping for prescriptions).

With the assurance of my doctor, we knew that the time had come to get a second option. My current specialist only wants to treat the pain with medication and honestly at this point, we aren’t sure if they are helping or hurting so it is time to explore new options (such as a nerve stimulator).

While it may not look like we made great strides in that appointment, I feel very positive about the direction we are taking and more confident that I will not have to continue to live with this amount of pain indefinitely. I feel like there is hope that I regain some type of normal for my life. Pain will no longer define my days and that feels awesome.