JoJoisms

Blast from the Past: The Blessings of Pain Part 2

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 30•17

And here now is part two of The Blessings of Pain.  You can check out part one here.

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5. Pain enables you to be sympathetic.

Not only do they feel compassion for those who are suffering, but they are sympathetic.  They not only say the right things, but they do so in the spirit of sympathy that means so much to others even if they haven’t experienced exactly the same struggle.

6. Similar pain enables you to be empathetic.

That sympathy goes above and beyond when they HAVE experienced exactly the same pain or problem.  Empathy is an even more powerful support than is sympathy.  To have someone who has been through the exact struggle you have been through, share with you, help you and say they understand is even more of a blessing.

So far you say, all these blessings are bestowed upon others.  But I tell you it is a blessing to be a blessing to others.  To give blessings blesses you in return. But if you need a blessing that is truly your own, look at these:

7. Pain makes you appreciative.

Those who have suffered a great deal appreciate the little things.  You get great joy from a simple flower, a pain free moment, a few extra dollars, a bit of free time, a rest, a beautiful day showing God’s beauty in the midst of your suffering.  Appreciation gives you hope and hope brings even more blessings.  Being appreciative of the little things means you are grateful for even small advances in treatment, tiny steps forward in financial matters, and most importantly grateful to God and other people for their help in getting through the tough times. You know the depths of sorrow and it stands in stark contrast to some of the wonders of the world and the amazing people you meet. Managing to be grateful helps you find joy even in the midst of pain.

8. Pain makes you stronger.

Though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, in retrospect, you do feel a sense of strength having gone through something so difficult.  Whether it’s physical or emotional pain and as difficult as it is to admit, we do feel as if we’ve overcome after we are over the worst of a particular struggle de jur. After the pain of childbirth, I don’t much worry about the pain I feel when I bang my knee.  As compared with the pain of worrying about my dd’s heart condition when she was young and seeing her jaw bone through her chin when she hit the ice while skating, I wasn’t as easily frazzled when she tore a ligament in Karate.  After having been through the pain of seeing her empty room when she left for college or when she spent a semester half way around the world in Russia, the sadness when she left to go to grad school in Texas didn’t seem as devastating to me.

My sister’s kids where always having high fevers and were forever getting sick.  I remember talking to her about my fear when my dd’s fevers would spike and she was able to reassure me based upon her experience.

People ask me about the stress of having to replace all of my electronic devices after a lightening strike took out 18 of them back in June.  I remember thinking, yeah. It’s a bit annoying having to buy and install or schedule repairs on all these items.  This was a mild annoyance, but we had the money to replace them all.  Having to figure out where to find the money to replace a $15 item was much more stressful!

Those of us suffering from chronic illness are pain warriors!  We’ve been through it all and back again and, though we’d never knowingly ask for it, we are stronger for having had to deal with it in our lives.  It’s been much easier to handle little setbacks the last several years than it was in the beginning of my journey with chronic illness. I used to immediately jump on the “freaked out” wagon.  Now it takes a lot more for me to get freaked out. To paraphrase a popular meme on Facebook, my track record for getting through difficult times is unblemished.  I’ve done it each and every time and God has been there every step of the way with me.  It’s not too much of a leap to assume He’ll be there again and I’ll come through.

Has sanity returned to JoJo? While I’d never choose pain and I do whatever I can to alleviate it, I do count these among my blessings.  If you have to have pain, at least there is something good that comes of it.  “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5

My debate class learned a lot that week. I’m proud of them for reaching into their hearts to see the blessings past the pain they saw in the world, in their families or inside themselves.  How can YOU see the blessings in your own pain?  Please share your comments/feedback here as a blog comment.  And please share this blog post with others who you think will benefit by seeing the blessings in their pain.

Blast from the past: The Blessings of Pain Part 1

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 23•17

I wrote this blog post back in 2014 when I started this blog and it got incredible feedback that it is now on my Article Archive section.  Each month though, I’m going to bring you a blast from the past to remind my readers (and myself) about some lessons I had learned as a chronic illness survivor. This month’s is probably the one I get the most comments about: The Blessings of Pain: Part 1.

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JOJOWHANDSOkay. JoJo’s gone off the deep end!  Brain fog has taken over and she’s completely out of her mind!  I hear ya out there.  You’ve stuck with me through some of my other unusual posts, but this one’s gone too far.  Stick a fork in ‘er, she’s done!  As someone who is in a fair amount of physical pain as I’m typing this, I understand your horror at this title, but give me a few minutes of your time and I think you’ll see my sanity returning and you’ll be blessed.

This idea started as a debate topic.  You see, (those of you who may not have known me long) in a former life I was an author and speaker on communication skills at www.ArtofEloquence.com.  I used to teach speech, debate and communication classes both online and off. Nowadays, I’m too tired, overwhelmed and in pain to run my business much less teach so I only do that on rare occasions.  This month was one such occasion.  I am teaching a homeschool co op class on debate.  One of the topics I picked was Pain is Good.  I figured it was something with which most teens would be unfamiliar and would be a good life lesson as well as a great debate topic.  Pain keeps us from more harm.  Even babies would remove their hand from the fire, right?

As I began putting my week’s lesson plan together, it occurred to me that, while I am not a fan of pain (emotional or physical) itself, enduring it can bring some blessings that I’d never have had the opportunity to experience had I been healthy. There are some lessons you only learn from pain.  There are some lessons life cannot teach without it.  There are some blessings you will never notice unless you’ve been through a day where you felt your head would explode or years when you thought if you woke up without pain one day, you would HAVE to be in heaven.

Pain itself is bad, but enduring pain can be a good thing and bring blessings you’d never have known-but you have look for them.  They can’t always been seen by the naked eye or heard above the white noise of the TV.  But as soon as I reveal to you how pain can bring blessings, you’ll never look at it the same way again. There are several ways in which pain can bring blessings into your life and the lives of those you touch.

1. Pain makes you compassionate.

The people who have suffered the most, tend to be the most compassionate.  The more struggles a person goes through, the more they have compassion for others who are going through difficult times.  I’ve known some amazingly compassionate people who consistently take time to support, uplift and help others.  I almost always find that they have suffered a great deal in their own lives and have a calling to be of help to others. There is a saying, “hurt people hurt people,” but I have found that struggling people help struggling people because they seem to have a heart for others and feel their pain as if it were their own–because it was (or is).

2. Pain makes you supportive.

Those who have struggled with something, especially for a long time, seem to have a need to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.  Their compassion manifests itself when they lift up and support others going through the same thing. They don’t want to see the pain–even if it’s in another’s life and not their own.

3. Pain gives you understanding.

Nobody can understand what another is going through like someone who has already been through it.  Understanding is a huge blessing to those who struggle with chronic illness, especially the kind we call invisible illness where test results and doctors don’t corroborate or justify their experience.  Most people with invisible illness are desperate to feel understood.  When they encounter someone who truly understands them, they feel vindicated and not so alone.  Someone acknowledges them. Someone truly hears them and understands and that is priceless to one who has been fighting the good fight alone for years.

4. Pain makes you a good servant.

Those who have struggled with something for a long time are not only compassionate, supportive and understanding, but they often go the extra mile to help relieve another’s suffering.  They are the ones who take a meal to a neighbor even though they, themselves, are having a rough day.  They bestow blessings upon others who are suffering and struggling with life’s difficulties.

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Stay tuned to this blog next week for part 2…

What do you wish people understood about your chronic illness?

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 17•17

Here’s your chance to explain how you feel and ask for what you’d like people to know about your chronic illness/issue.

I’ve talked to so many people who say that nobody who doesn’t deal with this on a daily basis can possibly understands what it’s like.  I agree.  Most situations that are not experienced personally cannot be fully appreciated.

Most people who don’t have to struggle with daily pain or fatigue or limitations can’t really have a proper understanding of what that person goes through on a consistent basis.

However, if we explain it to them, they can at least have an idea of what it means to us…to you.  So here is YOUR chance to explain.  Here’s is your chance to be heard.  Here is your chance to be better understood.

I’ve started us off with my Silent Pain poem. You may write a poem, post a YouTube video, song lyrics, or just write from your heart.

My heart is to allow you to be heard.  Allow you to express your grief, frustration, passion, struggle and be understood.  Maybe you can share this blog post (after folks have shared) with your loved ones so they can read through the comments and be a bit more understanding of what you go through.  Maybe someone else can explain one of the things you deal with better than you could.  I could.

So I’d like to take this week, this time, and allow you, my readers to share from your heart in order to help educate others who don’t understand.  That way each of us is comforted in knowing we are not alone.

So…

What one thing do you most wish others understood about your chronic illness/issue?

Go!

Fun with JoJo

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 10•17

Lest we forget to laugh, giggle and smirk our way through life’s difficult journey’s, I will be including a regular segment here this year I’m tentatively calling Fun with JoJo.  Humor is a HUGE part of JoJoisms and to JoJo’s approach to facing life’s challenges because it’s too hard to go through a mess with a grumpy face!  Humor makes our burdens lighter and allows us to sail though things we’d otherwise trudge through and trudge through things we’d otherwise get stuck in.  So…this is where I’ll be posting the newest and greatest Visual JoJoisms and poems as well as other fun stuff I find hanging around the internet.

By the way, if you have something that would qualify, please feel free to bring it to my attention by posting it as a comment to this blog post.  It will need to be funny, fun, and of course, family friendly.  Thanks!!

This month, I’d like to feature a few of my latest Visual JoJoisms. Which is your favorite?

 

 

New Year; New Beginning

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 03•17

  Welcome to 2017!  I declare this year to be a new beginning and I’m looking forward to good news, good times, and good friends in 2017.

For many years, I’ve struggled with various chronic illnesses.  There were many and most of them were long lived.  The last several years that I’ve been blogging about chronic illness, I’ve talked about how a person’s spirits can be weakened and their faith can be tested.

I thought I’d start off the year with a recap of where I started.  You can read more about my journey here, but I’m going to post my first video here as well to show you where I started when I began this blog in 2014.

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The last two years have been a different kind of health journey for me.  I’ll talk more about them in my vlog (video blog) post later in the month, but suffice it to say I’ve had more stuff taken out of me the past two years that I’m surprised I still have my appendix and my tonsils. LOL 

The last few years have also been a struggle for my family financially since my husband lost his job.  He’s still searching for a permanent job two years later, but we have renewed hope this year with a company near our home.

Another area of difficulty for us the past few years has been adjusting to Indiana.  When we first moved here, we lived in NW Indiana where we were introduced to all manner of natural disasters.  Our house was hit by lightning that fried 36 electronic items in our home and caused a house fire.  We had tornado warnings, one of which managed to trap us inside a Walmart for a time.  We had a flash flood masquerading as a puddle with evil intentions that took the life of our beloved car.   

In all honesty, I’d probably not choose to go through all those things again.  But I’m happy to say that they did prepare me for my ministry and my next project for 2017.  It also strengthened my faith as I was able to see how all things happen for a reason.  It was amazing to me how God took things like tragedy, cancer, and other not so good stuff and hid, inside it, a blessing.  I’ll talk more about that in my video.

But this brings me to the new beginning I mentioned in the title of this post.  I’m in the process of writing a book that I’d like to get traditionally published about my journey the past few years.  I strongly believe it will inspire those who feel discouraged, weary and stuck in whatever struggle the Lord has allowed you to go through–especially if it has been long and many in number.  There can be meaning in the struggle for you if you look for it hard enough.  I’d like to show you how.  I’d like to show you how I found blessings in the pain, meaning in the chaos, and purpose in the strength it takes to go on when STUFF happens.

So that is my goal this year and I’ll be sharing a bit of that each month in 2017.  So you, my readers, will get first look at some of the lessons I learned and strength I found in the midst of the mess that was my life.  Stay tuned and buckle up. It’s going to be an amazing ride!

 

Three Things to Do for Someone Who’s Hurting

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 20•16

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If someone has had an illness long enough to be termed “chronic,” trust me. They have probably researched more about it than you have. They’ve probably tried all the conventional remedies and most of the unconventional ones as well.  We don’t want to be told about this fix or that drug.  We’ve heard it all before.  We don’t usually share our struggles, but sometimes we just need to be understood or we need some help.

We don’t want to hear how we should pray more, not be so negative or that other people have it worse than we do.  It might be true, but when we are in the middle of a long overdue pity party or melt down because we are at the end of our rope hanging by a painful thread, now is NOT the time!  Now is not the time for “I told you so” or “You should have…” or “I had a friend whose cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s dog’s veterinarian’s mother, tried XYZ and it did wonders for her.

When we confide in you that we are hurting, desperate, frustrated, or depressed, now is the time for compassion.

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And there are three things we need and would appreciate:

  1. A hug– We are a lonely lot having had many of our friends and family abandon us because they didn’t know what to do for us and/or were tired of  hearing how painful our lives are.  We are desperately in need of a hug, to be held, comforted.  We are tired of defending ourselves to our doctors and friends and family.  We’re often alone because we are too tired or in pain to make it to social events.
  2. A prayer– As a Christian, I feel comfort when a sister or brother in Christ prays for me, but what really makes me feel God is near is when someone prays WITH me.  Even if the someone you know who is hurting isn’t a Christian, it is often a gesture of great comfort.  Very few nonreligious people will turn down a caring friend’s offer to pray with them.  If they are not willing, you can tell them you’ll pray for them, but it’s often a source of comfort whether or not they are a believer, just to know someone cared enough to take the time.
  3. A listening ear– So many of us have stopped talking because, when we do, we are either dismissed, ignored, told to be more positive, or told it could be worse.  Even worse, we’re told we should be doing the things they recommended we do every time we speak.  People mistakenly think we tell everyone how we feel and are just not willing to do anything about it. Take their advice.  Truth is we don’t tell anyone exactly how we feel.  We lie and say we are fine when asked “How are you?”  We smile through the pain and we laugh and make jokes so we don’t cry.  Truth be told, we feel better when someone is willing to listen without judgement and without a recipe for our medical, spiritual or emotional salvation.  Once we get out what we need to say, we release it and can move on.  Keeping it bottled up is what causes melt downs.

After we have felt like we are worthy, we have people in our corner, remember that God is with us, and have had a chance to talk, we can move on to handle our next hurdle or challenge.  And there WILL be others in short order.

What is something that gives you comfort when struggling with a chronic issue?  Please share.

90 Minutes of Patience

Written By: JoJoisms - Sep• 30•16

MadDo we need only 90 minutes of patience for God to work in our lives?  Some people think that if you are going through troubled waters and pray to God, He will just take away the trial and life will be rosey.  A lot of movies are like that. A lot of Christian movies are like that.  Even some very popular and GOOD Christian movies depict that.  In the hour and a half it takes the movie to end, the characters go from devastation to restoration.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work out that well in real life.  I’ve never had a crisis end in 90 minutes.  In fact, I’ve never had a crisis end in less than several weeks. But the movie industry has instilled in us (the microwave society) that all crises end in 90 minutes, that they all resolve themselves completely, and with no residual effects.  That is just not life and it’s also not biblical. Furthermore, this thinking makes life difficult when crises happen.  We tend to lose a bit of our faith because we aren’t resilient enough to wait it out…wait on God.

Some Christians tell me I must be in sin for God not to heal me in all these years. Job wasn’t in sin and he suffered.  He was a man after God’s own heart.  Paul suffered an affliction and we don’t say he was in sin…and he was NEVER healed.  Telling someone with chronic illness that they are not healed because they are in sin is harsh and can stumble them.  Sometimes our troubles are a result of our sin or choices, but other times they are just a result of living in a fallen world.

Either way, when we pray, sometimes God says yes. Sometimes He says no. And most of the time, in my experience, He says wait.  Waiting is hard, especially if you are not a patient woman.  <raises both hands high in the air> So when you are waiting and praying and praying and waiting, it can seem an inordinately LOOOOOOOOOOONG time to wait.  I’ve been waiting over a year and a half for God to restore our income after my husband lost his job.  I’ve been waiting almost 30 years of marriage to reach financial independence so we are not reliant upon the whim of a man with the power to say our family no longer has an income.  I’ve been waiting over 35 years for God to heal me of all manner of health issues.

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If there is one thing I’d like to convey to you about prayer and waiting and patience, it’s this. Just beware it may take waaaaaaaaay longer than you think it should.  You may think you will only wait a few weeks or a few months. You may begin to get antsy when months turn into years.  The Bible tells us that God is always with us, but it doesn’t say God will always do what we want.  So, since we may need to wait a much longer time than we want or are comfortable with, remember two things:

  1. Find the joy and the blessings in the trials.  You might as well have fun while you’re down there.
  2. God is in charge.  I cant tell you how many times I was upset that God didn’t act at a particular time or fix things, but instead just helped a bit.  But in the end, what happened was better than what I had envisioned in the first place.  It’s like that meme you may have seen on social media.  It shows Jesus and a little girl. She’s holding a small teddy bear and doesn’t want Jesus to take it away because she loves it so much.  But Jesus is holding a HUGE teddy bear he wants to give her instead and He knows she’ll love it even more and need it in more ways than she can see.

Life is not easy and it is often full of crises both big and small.  If we expect there should be none or that they should resolve themselves completely and in a matter of minutes, days or even years, we are not being realistic and we are limiting our strength and faith in the process.

I’m a cancer survivor and you’ll never believe how it happened!

Written By: JoJoisms - Aug• 30•16

ribbon-1101997_1280I tell this story because it is the most bizarre tale of God’s divine grace!  It is with enormous thankfulness that I share how I became a cancer survivor before even my doctors knew I even HAD cancer!

So a few years ago, I was told that I had a HUGE fibroid tumor that took up my entire uterus.  My doctor said it wasn’t anything to be concerned about because they are never cancerous and would go away as soon as my hormone levels dropped enough to put me close to full menopause.  I was so close to menopause and I didn’t have any issues with it so I went along my merry way.

When I moved down to the Indy area, I got new doctors and my OBGYN insisted I go in for an ultrasound to confirm that the fibroid was no longer there.  We were all fairly certain it was gone or very nearly so I was a bit unclear why she wanted to search for it with all the modern technology at her disposal, but as luck would have it, the procedure was covered at my age so I went in and let them have a look around at my interior.  They seemed to be focusing in on my left side for an inordinate amount of time, but I just thought they were admiring my vintage upholstery.

The doctor called me in to go over my results. I was fully expecting her to say that it was gone and we could then move on to finding solutions to my several chronic issues where fatigue and pain had become a full time job.  However, what she said was that the results revealed a rather sizable solid cyst on my left ovary.   She said it was the kind of cyst that could become cancerous so it needed to be removed as soon as possible.  Since I was 53 years young, I was no longer really using my ovaries so she said it was easier to remove the entire ovary and that she might want to take the Fallopian Tube as well just in case because “cancer likes to hide.”

Turns out she called an audible during the surgery and did remove the tube and sent everything to biopsy.  The surgery was much easier than I thought it would be and I was in very little pain that it didn’t necessitate ANY pain pills including Tylenol or Ibuprofen.  I was ecstatic thinking it was over and I got away just about scott free.

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The doctor herself called me with the biopsy results.  That’s never a good sign. It’s usually some nurse or office gal who tells you everything is normal.  So when she used the word cancer, my brain kind of went tilt.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around that.  After all, there was no reason to believe I had cancer.  My blood work indicated levels of cancer antibodies below the limit indicating cancer was present.  Nothing they saw indicated any signs of a tumor or cyst or lump or anything they felt was something to worry about.  But the fact remained that I did have cancer cells in my tube and, since this type of cancer is aggressive, I was referred to a Gynecological Oncologist.

After the initial shock wore off (about two hours), I wasn’t really concerned.  I was told that he would probably want to remove my other ovary, tube and lymph nodes just to make sure there was no more cancer in my reproductive system which was now laying dormant having retired some time ago.  I went in to the appointment feeling pretty confident and actually kind of looking forward to having an end to my 17+ years of Peri!

When he first walked in to the room, he asked me why I thought I was there.  He wanted to know just how much I understood.  I told him it really was a miracle.  They went in looking for a huge fibroid tumor that wasn’t there, found a solid ovarian cyst, and only found the microscopic cancer cells in my Fallopian Tube under the microscope after the biopsy.  My OBGYN said that it saved my life and he agreed with her.  They both said that the cancer would never have been found that early.  This type of cancer has no symptoms until it is too late and, since it’s an aggressive cancer, doctors wouldn’t have known it was there until it was too late and I would most likely have died.  So I’m a cancer survivor and I was a cancer survivor long before anyone (including the doctors) knew I even had cancer!

So what’s next?  Well, the Gynecological Oncologist has me scheduled for a total hysterectomy in October.  He wants to remove EVERYTHING reproductive, not just my other ovary and tube and lymph nodes…because they already found cancer and “cancer likes to hide.”  This is a much more involved surgery requiring a 2-3 day hospital stay.  If the biopsy finds no further cancer cells, I’m done!  Both with peri and with cancer.  If they do find more cancer, they’ll probably want to do chemo therapy. But he doesn’t think there is any reason to believe that they will find more cancer. So I’m hanging my hat on that for now.

UPDATE: Got my biopsy back and there is NO MORE CANCER or any other abnormalities anywhere.  I’m CANCER FREE!  

 

Dear God…Can’t You Choose Someone Else?

Written By: JoJoisms - Jul• 30•16

There’s a line from Fiddler on the Roof that keeps running through my head these days.  It’s something I think we all feel from time to time when things go wrong.  It’s how we feel when too many things go wrong for too long a time.  That kind of struggle, that kind of suffering can wear away at your strength not to mention your faith.  And it’s that kind of struggle my family has been going through for the last few years.

The line is:  “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”   As I remember, it’s somewhere near this scene called Dear God featured here on this YouTube video.  Ever felt this way?

After struggling with several chronic illnesses for decades, recovering (somewhat) from a car accident while looking for a place to live two years ago,  moving across the country for a job my husband ultimately lost not even a year later, getting through gallbladder surgery and the bills that came with it, being told my husband was over qualified and going without a steady income for over 18 months, struggling financially and with three businesses that were each meeting various obsticals, suffering near insanity from 17 years of peri menopause, and living through another surgery to remove my ovary and the cyst that moved in without an invitation, I was beginning to feel a lot like Tevye.  Then, just the other day, I was told I may need a third surgery to remove a probable growth on my parathyroid.  That would be three surgeries in two years!  At this point, I am wondering if I qualify for Frequent Flyer Miles on the Friends and Family Surgical Program.

Pain1501When we go through so much for so long, we pray to God to help us understand, to help us cope, to give us strength, and, let’s face it, to complain.  It’s not like He doesn’t already know we don’t appreciate our circumstances.  He wants us to come talk to Him.  He wants us to trust Him, often even if we can’t possibly understand why we need to go through what seems completely unnecessary and unfair.  It’s at these times when we feel like Tevye, that we are being chosen for struggle.  We feel like the walls are closing in around us, that our head is almost under water, and there’s a big Ogre sitting on our escape route.

We understand that sometimes God says yes and sometimes God says no, but we don’t often truly understand that sometimes God says the dreaded word, “WAIT.”  I don’t like waiting.  I’m not good at it.  I have no patience and I don’t want to pray for any.  I want things to change NOW.  I want God to take away my struggle and I want Him to do it NOW.  I don’t want to pray for God to get me through. That takes too long! But lately, God has made me wait.  Things are not resolved. The walls are still closing in and the Ogre is laughing…at least that’s how I feel.

How, then, can we find comfort in the chaos?  I found the answer, but I didn’t like it and you won’t either because it isn’t easy.  Psalm 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.”   The Bible tells us that Jesus died for our salvation.  It’s not this life here on earth that Jesus died for. It’s our eternal life.  The life here on earth is full of sin and hardship and struggle.  We often expect that life should be easy down here, but nobody has an easy life this side of heaven.  And some of us struggle greatly for an extended period of time and we grow weary of praying and not hearing the answers from the Lord.  We may even feel like we’re nagging God.  “Hey, Lord!  Remember, me?  I’m still in a mess down here.  Now would be a good time!” JoJoism499

I’ve been in tough situations before.  Some were short and sweet and some struggles were longer, but God had always gotten me through and actually, like Job, I came out better on the other side.  After it was over, I could see God’s hand in all of it.  I could justify my struggle by understanding what I had been waiting for.  Not this time.  Decades of health and financial issues, 18 months of joblessness, and surgeries I could definitely have done without just added insult to even more injury and I was complaining to God on a regular basis.

Though, none of my struggles are over (my husband is still out of work, I still struggle with chronic issues and that third surgery is looming), I have learned a few things about struggle along the way.  I’m not where I want to be, but I’m closer than I ever was.  I have been reading several devotionals each day and I’m feeling a bit of joy again even though I didn’t wake up cured and I never found a million dollars in my mailbox.

1. God wants us to talk to Him daily, even if it’s to complain.  At first I didn’t want to pray or talk to God because I didn’t want to complain.  But someone told me it’s not like God didn’t know what was in my heart at the time.  Initially, complain is all I could do, but later on I was able to be thankful for what He had provided, for the little things along the way, for people who took the time to call or bless us in various ways, and for various ways in which we were able earn some money here and there.  It didn’t solve our problem, but it did help me to not feel so alone and it did help us pay some bills and expenses when we had trouble meeting them.  Tevye complained to God and Job complained as well.  But they were also grateful for what God had done in their lives.

Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.” The more we talk to the Lord, the more we will be able to find peace enough to ask ourselves why we are not at peace when God is a loving God. Because we can be giving thanks to Him and others for the blessings we DO have-even if we struggle with a lot.  

2. Being thankful for the little things helped me feel less stressed about the bigger things. It’s hard to see the blessings at first, but as soon as I began to notice them, I saw them everywhere.  I saw blessings in my children who were quick to help in any way they could.  I saw blessings from the Lord for my surgeries which were both amazing successes.  My recent surgery to remove my ovary was so amazing I NEVER took a single pain pill.  Not one that was prescribed nor anything over the counter.  There was NO pain for almost an entire day following my surgery!  And what followed was something I could deal with.  I bounced back fairly quickly with just some residual fatigue which plagues me to this day, several days post surgery.  But I’m getting better every day and it could have been so much worse.

Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  I’ve noticed that as I’m more thankful, I’m also less worried about what could happen.  At the moment, my husband (who was a higher paid Corporate Controller for a multinational corporation), is now working as a laborer at our church.  I have no idea when my husband will get a job that will pay our bills, but I am less stressed about it than I used to be.  Our old pastor came to visit us when he was here for a pastor’s conference. He told us to do what we can and that’s all we can do. The rest is God’s problem.  LOL  Because only He can handle the rest.

3. Doing God’s work helps me focus on the positive.  One of the devotionals I read said to do for others even while in the chaos of struggle and Meno Kit Adthat will help take the focus off the pain.  I have no idea when things will change for us, but I don’t have much time to focus on that because I’m busy doing what I believe God wants of me.  I’m writing this blog to help uplift and support those who also struggle with chronic illness and issues who may be losing hope and faith.  I’m working on a new product for one of our businesses and I’m also working to create a workshop that is a new ministry.  I’ll share more about that later.

1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith,being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”  The more I concentrate on others: my customers and those who need to be uplifted, the more I find I don’t have time to think about what could happen. I’m just moving all day to do the most I can myself as I learn to trust that God is working the rest out all on His own.  And in that I can praise and honor God, the Father.  

James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  I used to ask God why He couldn’t just choose someone else to go through these struggles.  After all, I’m full up right now.  I used to wonder how I could count all this as joy when things all around me feel like they are falling apart.  I’m finding that, the more I share with others (not about how God worked a miracle in my life, but about how to handle the chaos that is struggle), the more others are uplifted by what I share.  

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read about Job being blessed more by God after his struggles than he was before, I don’t feel as uplifted as I do when I read that Mary Marshmellow is still in her mess, but is able to see the joy.  Reading Job does give me hope, but just because God healed Job and gave him blessings only means He CAN work a miracle in MY life.  It doesn’t mean He will. There are plenty of people who were never healed.  Paul was never healed.  Many people go through life with worse chronic issues and illnesses than I have and are never healed.  But if I can see how to be uplifted and can uplift others WHILE I’m in the mess, then the chaos at least serves some purpose.  And if it does serve some purpose, then maybe that’s why God didn’t choose someone else.  God may heal you. He may yet heal me.  He may turn our financial mess around…or not.  Either way, I need to find find the joy in it to see the best in a bad situation. Just maybe, with me listening for the best, He’ll show me a way out.  

I’d love to hear your experience with long term struggle and faith.  Are you struggling now?  And how can I pray for you?

Chronic Illness Frustration Factor Part 2

Written By: JoJoisms - Jun• 30•16

angry part 2

Last month, I shared how GPs  can delay your treatment.  This month, I’d like to share how red tape and mix ups can frustrate the begeebers outta you when on a mission to experience less pain.

I began seeing a chiropractor a few months ago in a quest to rid myself of some of the pain.  I can’t always tell what the source of the pain is as almost all of my diagnoses (and the list is long and distinguished) all have the same symptoms.  Is it Fibro pain?  Arthritis pain?  TMJ pain?  Headache pain?  Aches due to thyroid disease? Peri menopause?  Or did I stub my toe on the wall unit in my brain fogged state walking from the uncomfortable bed to the overstuffed couch?

So I tried the chiropractor who said he could help me get rid of at least the pain in my neck.  While there I met the physician’s assistant who asked me a bunch of questions and suggested things I might do.  After a few months, it was apparent that the pain in my neck wasn’t due to bones out of alignment so I stopped going.

A month after seeing her, I received a phone call from a compounding pharmacy in Florida one day asking me for my insurance info to send me some pain cream I never knew I was prescribed.  I thought it was a joke or a scam at first because I live in Indiana. Surely there were compounding pharmacies in my own state. In fact, there are at least two of them in NW Indiana where I used to go to get my hormone cream made up.

After several phone calls back and forth to the pharmacy, the physician’s assistant, the insurance company and a psychiatrist (okay that one was poetic license), I discovered that the PA wasn’t in network and, therefore, couldn’t prescribe for me. The compounding pharmacy didn’t take my insurance at all and the insurance company doesn’t cover those things. I politely declined to have them send it and went on my unmerry way.

The PA told me she felt for me and would give me samples I could try for free for a while. At least I could lessen the pain temporarily.  It was incredibly sticky stuff.  I mean, it rivaled super glue!  You know those old commercials where the guy in a hard hat glues himself to the beam?  But, hey.  If it works…  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  🙁  So I just forgot about it and looked forward to my internist appointment where I felt I might find the answers I need.

A month or so later, I received another phone call from the pharmacy that they were sending it out.  HUH?!  I tried to tell them that they wouldn’t get paid, but they insisted it was somehow cleared with the insurance company and I wouldn’t be charged a thing. I talked at great length to their pharmacist who felt so badly for me he asked me to call in a week or two to tell him how it worked.

When it got here, I was again confused.  It came in a jar…like face cream.  But it said to only apply so many mg each day. How on earth was I to measure this?  Do you know how many mg your fingertip holds?  Me either.  So back I go on the phone to the pharmacist in Florida.  How’s the weather out there, Mike?  And the family?  Suzie still in dance class?

After determining that there really is no way to OD on this stuff, I was told to dab my finger tip in it and rub it in to any place that hurts (except the face).  I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t sticky at all!  Didn’t smell funny either.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take away the pain either.  🙁

Are you sensing a trend here?  I’m a lottle frustrated now.  Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Alleve, Lydocane, etc…  Nothing helps the pain.  I see the Internist on June 10th.  I sure hope she’s got a better idea.  I’m thinking Novocaine  or possibly Morphine!

What’s your red tape story?