When Faith is Forbidden: 40 Days on the Frontlines with Persecuted Christians

by Todd Nettleton

In one of the latest books to drop by The Voice of the Martyrs, Todd Nettleton takes us along as he travels to the frontlines of persecuted nations. He shares some incredible stories, gives his thoughts as he journals after long days, and guides us in prayers for those that are sharing their faith under such difficult circumstances. The most amazing part about this book is just reading of the joy our brothers and sisters have as they face prison time, beatings, harassment, and all sorts of unimaginable things. They count it as a blessing to share the Gospel in this way. They recognize that Jesus was willing to do the same for us, so why shouldn’t we be just as happy to face persecution?

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” –Hebrews 12:1,2

If you are not familiar with The Voice of the Martyrs ministry, I highly encourage you to check out their website. A free magazine is available too! Todd Nettleton also hosts a weekly podcast that is always available at the bottom of my page.

This is a book that I highly, highly recommend. It’s such an encouragement for us to read their stories and see how God always gives us what we need to handle situations when we want to bring Him glory. Also, the proceeds of these books go to helping spread the Gospel in countries where it is prohibited. So, it’s basically a win for everyone!

No Fear in Perfect Love

As I scroll through my social media accounts, I start feeling anxiety, frustration, and total disgust. In fact, a simple search of anxiety and social media brings up article after article describing the different types of anxiety and mental health problems that come from looking at our accounts over and over. Why is that? I mean, social media is not a nice place. It started out as a way to connect with far away loved ones, old high-school friends, and to see what your ex is up to and if you are still cooler than the person he is with now….Well, maybe that’s not what it was intended for. Who knows 🤷

The point is, it’s really none of those things now. It has become a source of shouting opinions the loudest, making others feel stupid for their opinions, and a breeding ground of fear over the things happening in this world. Is this at all healthy? I think that we can all agree that it is not. Probably each of us has been viciously assaulted by a post we thought as simple and witty while others couldn’t wait to make us feel shamed for our “insensitivity” or “lack of social awareness”.

“We need a new president!” “We need social justice!” “We need equality!” “We need freedom to make choices for ourselves!” “I need! I need! I need!” So many posts about equality and fairness for each person, yet there is no love behind it? There is judgement if we disagree on any point? There is cruelty and no compassion for those that make a mistake in your eyes?

What happened to giving others room to grow? Time to change? Freedom to have their own opinions? Love hopes all things. Love is patient. Love does not easily take offense. What about those things?

While social media is a breeding ground of fear and shame, many are disoriented and completely disillusioned in life. Everything looks bleak and hopeless. So, where does that leave us? Those of us that claim to have a God that protects us. We claim to have a God that brings us joy? We have a God that says to be anxious for NOTHING. Is that what others are seeing? How can we achieve that in our relationship with Him?

In fact, God goes as far as to say that there is no fear in love. It says that fear involves punishment and that if we fear, we are not perfected in love. What is He trying to tell us?

As always, it’s a matter of our hearts. Are we actually trusting Him? Do we trust that He created us and wants the very best for us? Of course, His best for us and what we think is best, may very well be different! God deserves glory in everything. So, do our lives of comfort and having every need met make us feel as if we need Him? Not usually. It’s all about the lens we are looking through as we live our lives.

Do I wish to bring Him glory in every, single thing that happens in my life? When I’m in pain, how do I bring Him glory? When my car breaks down, how do I bring Him glory? Is my first thought, “Poor me! I can’t deal with this right now!” Or, is my first thought, “God, what do you wish me to do in this situation? Wisdom, please.”

You know, I read the most amazing book a few years back and it’s completely stuck with me. Muslim women are very difficult to talk to because, often times, they are only allowed to speak with those whom their husbands have given them permission to speak to. Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh put their lives on the line to live in Iran and witness to these women. It proved to be almost impossible due to having no access. After some time, they were put in the worst of prisons. Raw sewage, rodents, bad food (if any). Their response? “Thank you, Lord! You have given us unprecedented and total access to share You with these women!” Because they didn’t think of themselves and ask God why He would have done such a thing to them when they were so faithful, the ministry they had was unfounded! They looked at it as the biggest opportunity to speak to these women, completely undeterred! They had a captive audience instead of seeing themselves as captives.

Can you even imagine how much glory they brought to God? Can you imagine their welcome when they get to Heaven and see Him and how proud He is of them? What a beautiful moment! What blessings!!!

It sounds scary to us to think of being in a situation like that. However, the truth is that we don’t have what we need to handle it because God hasn’t put us in that position. He gives us what we need to handle in our lives only when it is time. I might feel overwhelmed by a big day coming up. Does it help me to stay up all night worried? No. I don’t have what I need to get through it yet because it’s not here yet.

We can rest in the fact that we have a loving God that delights in us! He says, “indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” He is always with us through all things.

Yes, the world is a mess. Yes, we could be headed to persecution. Yes, we are turning away from God in our country. Yes, yes, yes. Does this cause me concern? I certainly don’t like it! Does it cause me anxiety? No. Not anymore. I know that God is truly in control. He has proved to me over and over again that He will provide for me what I need when I need it. He has showed me numerous times how He holds me through the difficulties. My only question?

How can I bring Him glory in all of it?

Can I Truly have joy in 2020?

So, this about sums it up.

I knew we shouldn’t have raided Area 51! 😳

Here I was all excited about the new year and all the things we had planned…I don’t even need to elaborate. You get it. You totally get it. I mean, just imagine trying to explain to someone that just woke up from a coma what’s been going on for the last 8 months. I think I’d tell them to go back to sleep!

Seriously though, it’s been one for the history books. With that being said, how do we maintain peace and joy in a year when so many things have completely changed our way of life, when the world is so unsettled, and when everything is out of our control? We are quarantined without others to lift us up and help us out of our darkest days. I mean, COME ON! I haven’t even been to Target in 6 months!!! That’s how I know there’s a major problem.

Simply put, how do we maintain control when that said control eludes us? We get so caught up in our life plans that we forget to do the most important thing!

Ask God what His plans are and how He wants to use me!

Now, look… I’m just as guilty! I often wonder what is going on! It just seems like it’s all too much. The truth is that we do not wage wars of flesh and blood, but of the unseen. Social politics are at an all time emotional high and we are quarantined and unable to gather and pray together. We’ve been cut off at the knees!

The thing is, we get so caught up in our own troubles that we forget to look at the bigger picture. It’s not about us. Nothing revolves around us. That’s a hard truth. You’re welcome.

Instead, what are we supposed to do? Consider it an opportunity for joy? According to James, that’s exactly what we are supposed to do. Remember, it’s not about us. What’s happening here is so much bigger. How is God wanting to use us through this?

Look, it sounds unattainable and ridiculous. I know. But joy is a choice. It’s a choice to look up at the Light, hold His hand, and journey together. It’s a choice to hope. It’s a choice to be willing to let God use you in whatever way He will get the most glory! If my heart is all about that plan, I can’t help but chuckle and just say, “I’m glad You’ve got this because I sure don’t!”

The weight is gone. It’s not my problem. I can trust that I serve a God that delights in me!

The best part is that He gives us a simple formula. We don’t even have to figure it out on our own! He’s that awesome!!

There are so many verses that can encourage you! I can’t possibly even scratch the surface. All I know is that God is amazing. He delights in me. I want Him to have all the glory. I can rest in Him and give Him control (which I don’t have anyway!). My job? Rest in that, be full of joy, tell God what I need and thank Him for all He’s done and is doing in the madness. I will choose to focus my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable — things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

If this is where my mind is, I am not spun up by the news and the chaos around me. I’m focused. I’m at peace. I’m full of joy!

Train up a child

We’ve all read the verse. Easy-peasy, right? Then I became a mom. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, (or 36 hours of labor…I mean, whichever you want to go with…) every bit of know-how seemed to vanish.

Why is he crying all the time? Why is he giving me attitude, crossing his arms and telling me “no” at 11 months old? He’s supposed to be so innocent! Are they trying to stay up later, or do they really need to pee? Did they just bully the kid on the playground? What are they doing on their phones?!

Okay, so I do need help. James 1 has my name all over it. Wisdom. I need wisdom. Everyone has something they are striving for, greedy for, willing to give up anything for. Me? I need God’s wisdom. Without it, I just make a huge mess. Thankfully, it’s freely available if we just remember to ask.

There’s this idea going around that really drives me crazy. I’ve heard so many pastors and teachers present the book of Proverbs as a “guide”. The idea that it is not a book with promises, but just a general guide for your life and what may, or may not happen. This is such dangerous territory! Who are we to pick and choose what is truth and what is a generality? It’s God’s Word!

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

I grew up as a pastor’s kid. Yep, a PK. I also grew up to be a single mother. A girl that loved to party. A girl that did not love Jesus. I was fine to leave Him back and home with my parents and move on with my life.

Of course, that left my amazing parents behind to clean up the mess. If you think that didn’t have any effect on them, their church, their ministry, their hearts, or their lives, you are so wrong. People threw this verse in their face. Some scoffing, laughing, so pleased to see failure. Others were confused, disoriented, and left to question all they had been taught. How could the pastor’s daughter be pregnant and unmarried? (Well, I won’t explain that part…)

My mom and her deep, deep rooted faith would answer ever so calmly, “The end isn’t written yet.”

She was right. The end had not yet played out.

You see, when your life is so rooted in Jesus and so intertwined with His heart, that’s what your kids are going to know. That’s what they are going to see. That’s what they are going to live.

The whole mothering thing just got a lot harder.

Basically, the burden is on you to intertwine God into EVERY. ASPECT. OF. YOUR. LIFE.

When my car breaks down, do I see it as an annoyance, or an opportunity to share God’s love with someone? When my plans get unexpectedly changed, do I throw a fit, or do I tell my kids how exciting it’s going to be to see what God has planned for us instead? When I have health problems, do I get frustrated and angry, or do I use that as a chance for compassion? How am I handling the things that I deal with on a daily basis.

So many families go to church and make big decisions based on God’s Word, but when it comes to the little things, that’s not so easy. Our kids are watching. They are little sponges that are growing up and learning how to react or respond to every situation. Are we teaching them to react with emotion, or are we teaching them to respond like Christ?

Of course there are so many mess-ups. I fail over and over on a daily basis. But, my kids know that and I am the first one to call myself out on it. I obviously need a Savior and my kids need to know that! That’s a good thing. My heart wants to do what God wants and that is a daily and hourly discussion. It’s not a foreign concept, but completely intertwined in our lifestyle.

My parents lived this kind of life. Their actions where completely in sync with their words.

So, why did I end up pregnant and away from God?

Well, that’s just it. I didn’t end up that way. Yes, I strayed away, but like the one lost sheep, God gently pursued me and brought me back. In my 40’s, I can look at my childhood and see that an act of sexual abuse by an outsider left me dazed and darkened for many years. It took God’s gentle hand and his outstretched arms to help me out from my hiding place. I needed to learn to trust Him. It took me years to see that He is happiness.

I want to encourage you to focus more on your relationship with God and your responses (or reactions) and get that aligned. Disciplining and raising your children are secondary to your heart. That is what your kids are looking at. Ask God for wisdom. I beg you! It’s there for you! I cling to that promise of wisdom to get me through life. God always delivers.

My kids often make up scenarios and ask me what I would do in this situation or that predicament. My answer, “Ask God for wisdom”. Oh, they hate that. I’m not playing along. Blah Blah. But you know what, they remember it. They know that’s my answer for a difficult situation. They will remember that someday. Now that my oldest son is a police officer, I sure am glad that’s how I answered all those times!

When we watch tv, there’s always a crisis point in the movie or show. Guess what I bring up? “If they were doing what God wanted, they wouldn’t be in this pickle! God doesn’t give us rules, He shows us what makes us happy and helps us avoid these problems!” Meanwhile, the kids, “there goes mom again” — laughing and joking. But you know what? It’s respectful and loving because they know I mean it and they know it’s true! They begin to see it themselves as we watch. They begin to see how it’s going to play out when someone makes a decision to go against God’s advice.

That’s what I want! I want them to see God’s love! I want them to see God wants the best for them! I want them to fall so deeply in love with God!!!! That’s my goal as a mom. I don’t care if they become a garbage collector, a port-a-potty cleaner, or a doctor. I only care that they fall madly and deeply in love with our Savior.

So, is it true? If I train up my child in the way that is right, he won’t depart from it? Yes. It’s a promise. If we are actually living our lives in such Light, there is no way that they will stay in the darkness if they end up wandering there. If we are living a contradicting lifestyle of words vs actions, they will run to the darkness and never look back.

Ultimately, their salvation is their decision. It’s just on us to show them how much peace it brings. How much joy. How much love. Why it’s worth it.

Praying for you, momma!

Practical Insights for Everyday Christian Living

by Joyce Meyer

GALATIANS & COLOSSIANS

A Biblical Study


83E53BFD-1C24-4E04-AA4F-97085AD3289C_1_201_a I always tread carefully when I read Bible studies. Personal biases and interpretations inevitably abound. Also, there are often times a stigma is attached to a writer or speaker based on their “branch of Christianity”. If God has shown me anything this year, it’s to rejoice in others’ love of him. Instead of judging their background and denomination, I choose to be happy in their desire to serve God and leave it up to Him to show us all where we need to change things in our lives.

I feel like I need to preface this review with my thoughts because we will so often “throw out the baby with the bath water” if someone isn’t worshiping God exactly as we are. As long as nothing conflicts with God’s Word, I will choose to rejoice in their love of God. (1 Thessalonians is a really great book that deals with this idea). 222865AF-0752-483F-93B6-5137DC1207B9_1_201_a

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading  through these verse-by-verse commentaries/devotionals. Joyce Meyer knows the Bible well and understands suffering and perseverance. Her background is so dark and God’s mercy is evident in her change. 

These are a great companion to the Word. They are simple and straightforward to read and I would recommend picking one up each morning and having some time with God! As always, I recommend reading the Word on your own, as well as using other resources and materials. It’s good to hear what God has revealed to others and, ultimately, take it all and ask Him for wisdom on what to do with it.

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Thanks, Hachette Books for these! As always, this is my honest review. Here’s to many more!! Links are in the pics above. Enjoy!!

 

Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns about Heaven

by Ace Collins

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I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for this song. Piano sounds pouring through our home as my mother played this song anytime she needed to sit and be alone for a few moments. With our busy household, those moments were few and far between. When I hear it now, I miss the sounds of my childhood and my Mother being one room over — as opposed to 500 miles away.

As you can imagine, when I received this book, I was quick to turn to this hymn and read about its origins. I wasn’t disappointed. What a beautiful story it is. Lasting hymns, or any art really, only touch hearts if they have some depth and soul to them. A moving story behind it. A heartache that is felt by many even when it is still so personal to the author, composer, or artist.

I’m always so thankful for books like this. While I love a good piece of fiction, nothing really moves me like the true stories of God lifting others out of darkness and hopelessness. I encourage you to pick up a copy. With the holidays right around the corner, you can’t go wrong!

While I was given this book to review, I am always honest about my opinions. I will say that the only down side to this is that the author couldn’t always publish the lyrics. That, I know, is no fault of his. It would be nice to have them all there to ponder over as you read the stories that led to their creation. Good news – only a few are missing!

Link is in the above pic and throughout the page. Be sure to grab a copy! Thanks again, Baker Books!

The Ranger Way

by Kris Paronto

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Of course you have heard about what happened in Benghazi and I’m sure you probably saw the movie 13 Hours too. (If not, it’s free on Amazon Prime right now!) For most of us, it is one of the biggest scandals of the decade. For those that lived it, it was one of the bravest acts of the century. 51Rf4lP9nZL._PI_PJPrime-Sash-Extra-Large-2017,TopLeft,0,0_AC_US218_

Kris “Tanto” Paronto is one of the six elite soldiers that protected and saved the lives of many of our American citizens that September 11th night in 2012. He was an ex Army Ranger that helped to ward off hundreds of anti-American fighters trying to overtake the “secret” CIA compound.

This book delves into his life and the professional and personal trials these heroes go through to protect our country. His faith in God is inspiring as he shares the things he’s learned over the years.

I will caution some readers as certain subject matters and language can be a bit offensive. Unfortunately, it’s not a world that loves God, so many things they face are dark and evil. If you can see past that, I think you will really enjoy reading his narrative of the things he’s learned over the years.

Be sure to pick up a copy – the link is provided in the pic! As always, thanks to Hachette for such great books!!

Finding Freedom

Hey, guys! I want to give you an update on my exciting projects. As most of you know, I have been working as a playwright and enjoying every moment of it! It’s been such an answer to prayer as I am able to still do this when I am not feeling well.

A year ago, I was approached by the LEAH group in Pennsylvania and New York. They asked if I could write a play based around the founding of our nation and with the theme of freedom – both in life and in God. As an avid history buff, I was more than excited to jump in.

I was able to write the play and be part of an amazing experience. In November, I went to New York to help with the casting. It was so much fun to see these kids just jump in and become part of a world I had created in my head! So surreal.

Opening night was April 27, 2018 and I was not sure if I was going to make it. As you know, I haven’t been well and I was mostly confined to bed rest over the last 6 months. As always, God is good and I was able to get some answers and make it up there!

I decided to set the story in Boston as the tensions were rising. It centers around a group of friends as they make big life decisions. Which side is the right side and what are the reasons for choosing? What does God want? It was a tough time and I can’t even imagine going through it! It gave everyone a lot to think about – for sure!

I wanted to share some pics with you from my time up there! Hope you enjoy!!

Run-through and practice:

 

Opening Night:

 

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There are hundreds of pictures and I can’t possibly choose my favorites! I am just so proud of what they did. God used it in such an awesome way and I’m really thankful I was able to be a part of it.

I’m currently workin on their next project and can’t wait to share more with you! For now, here is a scene from Finding Freedom and I hope you enjoy it!


(Set: outside in a field as the boys are walking home from hunting together)

(All laughing)

Malachi: (laughing…) And did you see Titus tryin’ to chase that coon and fall flat on his ear?

Titus: Now hold on there a minute! ‘Twasn’t my fault there was a tree stump in the way! I reckon I gave that coon more than he bargained for though when I came flyin’ face first right at ‘im and even managed to get a shot off…

Adam: Truly? “Get a shot off’?” I am fairly certain you misfired and could have killed any one of us out there just because you fell on your face and lost all control! I sure wish Emeline could have seen you then!

(Laughter continues as they all speak over each other)

Malachi: (Malachi stops and puts his hands on his knees to catch his breath and they all stop) Look at us. (Pauses to look up with a crooked grin) I’m gonna miss this! Tomorrow, everything changes for us.

(The boys nod in agreement – still catching their breath. Malachi straightens back up.)

Malachi: Sure will be different…

Adam: Yeah, well you went and got yourself that fancy internship with none other than Mr. John Adams! You didn’t think that would be all coon hunts and dodging Titus’ bullets, did ya? (Said with a smirk)

Malachi: Blood and ‘ounds! I thought I might lose an eye today! ‘Tis best I be moving on to the law! (He tries not to grin and looks innocently up at Titus)

Titus: (Punches Malachi on the arm and starts for Adam as they are all laughing) I’ll have you know that I wouldn’t waste a bullet on either of you clods! I’m savin’ those for the redcoats.

Malachi: (gets serious) Alas, Titus, do tell us about this meeting you are attending tonight. I hear that Mr. Samuel Adams may be in attendance! Some say that he can be a dangerous fellow – always stirring up trouble.

Titus: (becomes more and more angry as he says) Dangerous? Do come on, Malachi. We live in dangerous times. Our own homes and shops are subject to the king’s royal army at their whim. What rights do we now have? ‘Tis as if we are the King George’s unwanted stepchildren and he hopes to punish us for the crimes of others.

Malachi: But we are only paying taxes to cover the war not long ago fought on our own soil. The king protected us from the French and the Indians and ‘twas a costly war.

Titus: (barely containing his anger) They invaded Boston, Malachi! ‘Tis not past wars I dwell on, but what is on our soil at this very moment! British soldiers are here, taking up residence and extending curfews as if we were their children! They tell us when we can eat and sleep and what we can buy! (He spits to the side)

Malachi: (Looks at Adam and asks) And are these your feelings as well? (Titus also looks up to see Adam’s response.)

Adam: (Adam is very uncomfortable and fidgeting) I thought I might tag along with him, Mal. It can’t hurt to see what they are saying. They call themselves the Sons of Liberty and believe that we should not be governed by a foreign power and that we should rule ourselves. (He kicks at the dirt seemingly lost in thought.)

Malachi: And where is this meeting?

Adam: Under the Liberty Tree.

Malachi: The Liberty Tree!

Titus: Nay, Adam. ‘Tis been moved to The Green Dragon Tavern as a storm looks to be a-brewin’.

Malachi: Aye! A storm is brewing, indeed! Did you not hear what the “Sons of Liberty” did to Mr. Andrew Oliver at that said “Liberty Tree”? They hung a man that was just doing his duty to King and country! They then proceeded to walk upon his dead carcass and burn him as if his body had been not defiled enough! (He pauses.) Are we, ourselves, not British citizens? (Malachi remains calm as if curious of his friends’ feelings on the subject, yet concerned for their welfare. Titus is visibly growing agitated and angry. Adam feels very uncomfortable.)

Adam: ’Tis just a meeting, Malachi. As Titus said, ‘tis not at the Liberty Tree, so you need have no fear on that account. I only wish to know what is being done in my own city. We have lost so many of our freedoms these weeks past. Julia says that soldiers come into Emeline’s family store and take what they please without regard to coin. How is it that she is to be paid when her employers are not compensated for their wares? ‘Tis a trying time, Malachi, and I, for one, shan’t turn a blind eye. I must at least have knowledge of what is taking place all around us.

Titus: (looked up when Adam mentioned Emeline and looks angrily at Malachi as if it is somehow his fault.)

Malachi: Can we not find a peaceful way to deal with the situation at hand? (He looks back and forth) Truly?

Titus: (Spits to the side) I’ll not stand idly by and let this happen in my own city. Sam says that all might be free if they valued freedom and defended it, as they ought. Shall I not defend my right to freedom?

Malachi: (eyes wide) Sam? I presume you are speaking of Mr. Adams? (Gives Titus a chastening look)

Titus: (rolling his eyes) If only I could be half as fastidious as you are, Malachi, I may not assume the world and these trying times shall trouble me either. However, I cannot. I shall not. I shall do my part.

Malachi: I did not intend to…

Titus: (waves him off) Say no more of it. I only pray that you shall not think less of me for doing what I must. We must each do as we believe is right in such a time.
Adam: He speaks the truth, Mal. We must look to ourselves to govern our actions.

Malachi: I believe not what I am hearing! (Voice raised) Can you truly say that you must look to your own selves for truth? If mankind is to look to self for truth, pray tell, what happens when we, each man, finds his own truth and such truth does not resemble the truth his neighbor has found? (Looking dumbfounded) We can only look to God for truth! Who’s to say that my truth is above your truth? Nay! I will not agree! For this very reason is why we have war and suffering!

(Titus begins to walk away while shaking his head.)

Malachi: Titus! (Runs to catch up) Do not walk away, brother. Indeed, you and Adam are my brothers in every way that can be – barring blood.

(They stop and pause in quiet. Malachi looks up at the sky and closes his eyes for a moment.)

Malachi: Today is the last of our childhood as we have come to know. No more coon hunts, late night fishing or even brawlin’ over who gets the biggest biscuit. I desire not to spoil such a day. So much of me wishes we could roam these woods with all of the innocence it has provided thus – to never face the injustices of this world and come face-to-face with the men we truly are. I, for one, fear to see my true reflection staring back at me. I know not what I shall find when I’ve the courage to look upon it. I do not think any less of you, Titus, or you, Adam, for being brave enough to gaze upon it and face the truth within.

(Titus visibly relaxes.)

Adam: You two are startin’ to act like a couple of women. I daresay ‘tis time for me to away! (He grins and punches his friends as they continue to pummel each other and walk off set)


* The issue of Andrew Oliver is cleared up later in the play. It was an effigy, not the real Andrew Oliver 😉

If you would like more info on Finding Freedom, please contact me at: aTransParentMom@gmail.com

My Life with EDS?

I am often asked about why I’m always feeling so terrible. frazzled-woman-cartoon-paid-forWhy am I so sporadic about posting and reviewing? Why do I barely leave my home anymore? And, if I am home all the time, why am I not reading, reviewing and posting?

I am going to attempt to share my story here. I would love to say that you will have all the answers and completely understand after this post, but I am sure there are many that have their own viewpoints. keep-calm-and-power-through-9There are many that believe those of us with chronic conditions need to just “suck it up”.

I was one of those. I used to say that all of the time. That is my personality.

God knew I needed some compassion, so remember while reading this that it’s better to have compassion without God needing to teach it to you! ha 🙂

Flowers & Plants

When I was younger, I was very outgoing and active. I always had friends around and was busy with every activity I could fit into my schedule. When I was 18, that all caught up with me. My body just crashed. It wasn’t all the activity, necessarily, but my body was not strong enough to carry all of that and I hadn’t known it.

Cream Rustic Spa Makeover Party Photo Collage

I spent the year of 1996 confined to bed. I just couldn’t get up. I was so tired. Getting up and going to the bathroom was enough to make me need to take a few hour nap. It was unbelievable. I had no strength.

As I slowly built back up, I started back into all my activities again. This time, however, it wasn’t the same. I was a lot more tired and edgy. I would get angry a lot easier.

As years passed by, pregnancies and life got in the way, my pain became more acute. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment with nothing to show for it. “Do more yoga.” “Swim more.” “You just have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Then there were the “friends” with statements and questions such as: “Why do you need a name for it so badly?” “Why don’t you just juice?” “Why don’t you exercise more?” “Why don’t you just push through the pain. It’s mind over matter!”

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Now, I know their intentions were good (at least I hope they were!), but anyone with chronic pain will tell you that those suggestions are not helpful at all. Chances are very high that we have already heard of all those diets that will help. We’ve done the research. We’ve tried to find the answer.

Thankfully, I am very blessed to be one of the few that actually DID get an answer. When I was 37, I finally found out that what I have is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (also known as EDS). It takes many forms and affects people differently, but if you want to have a basic idea of what the side effects are, just click here.

Let me give you the quickest way to describe EDS to you (at least the form I currently have). Every person has ligaments that are used to hold your skeletal system together and in place. When you work out, you stretch them and then they tighten back up stronger.

For someone with EDS, that’s not always the case. For me, my ligaments never tighten back up. Every time I work out, my ligaments stretch and stay that way. You can imagine how loose they are around my skeletal system. So, all those years of yoga? Worse thing the doctors could have told me to do. In their defense, they had no idea. But, this is why it is SO IMPORTANT to continue pushing until you find the answer! Yes, a name is important!

Because my ligaments are so stretchy now, they are not able to do their job and hold my skeletal system securely in place. My muscles try to overcompensate by tightening up, but this just causes even more pain and trigger points. My skeletal system is free to move about and frequently “pop” out of place. Ever had a slipped disc? Mine slide as I walk or move.

That is just the very beginning of what it does. The pain I am in on a daily basis is, at most times, unbearable. I must completely trust in God to give me the strength I need for each day for I cannot think of the future.

I don’t sleep. I don’t do much. After years of not knowing what I had, I found that the advice I was given only made things worse. I am in such terrible shape at 40 years old. Some of my personal symptoms (aside from overall pain):

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Under-active Thyroid
  • Accelerated Heart Rate
  • Fatigue (unable to even lift arms or stand at times)
  • Restless Legs (Causing my entire body to jolt)
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Tension Headaches
  • Severe Trigger Points all over
  • Eye Weakness
  • Knees are sprained in a permanent state
  • Constant shifting of my back (and everywhere, really. The pain is worse in my back.)
  • Foggy Brain
  • Unable to sleep more than an hour or two at a time (3 hours of sleep is a good night for me)
  • Delayed Sleep Syndrome
  • Inability to make very many new memories
  • Slow processing time when talking to people and responding
  • Arthritis in my hands and lower back
  • Inability to plan ahead
  • Overstimulation
  • Inability to turn head left and right due to tight muscles in neck
  • Confusion
  • Fragile bones
  • Simple tasks (like showering, making a meal, etc…) are so overwhelming that I often cry and feel like I am going to throw up when I know they are coming up or while I am in the midst of them.
  • Reading (one of my FAVORITE ACTIVITIES) causes headaches, fatigue and can not distract me from my pain enough to continue for long periods.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because I could get stuck feeling too terrible to get home.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because there are people there.

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I am sure that I could continue (and my family could offer a list twice as long). However, you get the idea.

Now, what am I doing about it?

Well, there is no cure for EDS. It is only pain management. Realizing that, I went into this trying to find things that would remove the pain so I could function normally. I have had everything from trigger points shots, acupuncture, dry needling, pain patches that pumped narcotics into me 24/7, and much, much more. I came to realize that none of that did enough to be worth the effect it would have on my body long term. Years of chiropractic work, yoga and swimming have completely destroyed the stability of my ligaments.

'The voices from my prescription side effects say you should consider lowering the dosage.'

Now, I am on minimal narcotics (by my choice to avoid addiction and constantly raising the amount as I become acclimated to medicine quickly). I try to use as many homeopathic remedies as possible and pray for wisdom.

So, there are so many things that I have mentioned here that are difficult to deal with on a daily basis. How about the things I am really thankful (in-spite of it/because of it):

  • My husband and sons have learned compassion. They watch out for me above their own needs.
  • I have learned compassion as I used to be annoyed by people with chronic problems.
  • My faith has grown and my relationship with God is amazing. I have had to cling to Him and learn to trust Him throughout all this. I would be in a state of hysteria if it wasn’t for Him and His peace. Nobody could ever convince me that God doesn’t exist because my relationship with Him is so intimate that I lack all doubt.
  • He has slowed me down. I used to always race around like crazy doing a million things and had no time to be still. I was angry because I was so overtired. Now, I am home and able to be a good mother and wife. I’m not too busy to love my family and be tuned into them.
  • I recognize my true friends.
  • God used it to save my son’s life (That’s a story for another day! You can email me if you want to hear about that. aTransParentMom@gmail.com)

Again, there are many things I could name, but my blessings far outweigh my troubles.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;to my God I cried for help.From his temple he heard my voice,and my cry to him reached his ears.

Yes, these are true. These are absolute truth. These are the things I cling to.

thinkingof youI pray for you, dear friends, as I know that chronic pain is something many of us struggle with. Unfortunately, many others do not recognize it for what it is. They don’t understand why we are skittish about scheduling things and often times have to cancel. They do not understand why we don’t just power through or juice or whatever. They don’t understand why we can look normal and healthy but say we feel as terrible as we do.

I get it. Hang in there. Find a way to give God glory through your pain and He will bless you more than you can imagine. You will begin to be thankful for the suffering. You will see how it has blessed your life (truthfully!). God can only show you the blessings and give you peace when you are content in His goodness. Trust Him. There’s a reason that you have it. Use it for His glory. That is what I have chosen and it has saved me from so much worse. It’s saved me from sever depression that is my constant shadow. It’s saved me from anger towards everyone around me. It has saved me from literally going crazy from pain.

He is worth it. He is what He promised. Run to Him for dear life and He will hold you in His arms through all of the difficulties.

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But…if we are being honest? This is what my husband usually gets to come home to.

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An Inconvenient Beauty

by Kristi Ann Hunter

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Catching you up: Duke Griffith Hawthorne is the last of the siblings (Loudly_Crying_Face_Emoji_grande.png), thus ending the Hawthorne series. (TRAGIC!!!!!) He has been taking care of his brother and sisters for so long that he hasn’t even had time to find love for himself. Now that he is able, he has done extensive research and he has his sights set on…the wrong girl…

Isabella Breckenridge has come to London under false pretenses. She is to help her uncle by attracting as many eligible men as possible so that they might pass a bill through the courts. Everything about her feels this is wrong, but she knows that she must help her family and has not yet learned to trust God to do that for her.

My Thoughts: So, first of all…how does she keep doing this? Kristi is one of the most talented writers because she has the perfect balance of light-heartedness, deep characters, and Godly principles. It’s such a beautiful thing to see!!!

I am exceptionally sad that this series is over. It has been one of my favorite. As Griffith and Isabella’s worlds come colliding together, you will laugh, maybe cry, and most certainly be pulled in from the first page to the last.

The characters just grab on and don’t let go. You can’t shake them even if you wanted to (believe me, you don’t!). If you haven’t read any of Kristi’s books, definitely pick one up. They can be read as a stand alone, but you will appreciate it much more if you are to read them in order for the characters that are introduced in each book carry through to the next.

Be sure to click the link above to grab your copy! Also, if you would like to check out my fabulous face-off with Kristi Ann Hunter, just CLICK HERE! It’s loads of fun!!! Lastly, thanks to Bethany house for this great book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion!!! Here’s to many more!

Click below to find the other books in this series. Aren’t these covers a-ma-zing??? #truth

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