Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

The day came and went without me even knowing it.

Apparently Fibromyalgia Awareness Day was earlier this week. Whoops!

At this point in my journey, I'm ready for life to just be more than Fibro. I don't want the pain and fatigue that I face every moment of every day to define me. So I just honestly don't keep tabs on that info much anymore. But I still do have things to say about it sometimes (though, seriously, isn't just looking at my baby... er, toddler... way cuter and more fun?!?! ;)).

And though I certainly wish I wasn't facing this all the time, I have truly learned to be thankful for it. Beyond what I could ever really put into words. It's changed me, grown my ability to be more compassionate toward the pain of others, and it has strengthened me in places I didn't know existed.

Fibromyalgia, in case you aren't aware, is all over body pain and fatigue. Constantly. It doesn't come and go in waves. It's not there one moment and gone the next. People who have Fibromyalgia deal with unimaginable pain. If you don't have it, you can't even begin to fully comprehend the level of suffering we endure daily.

Day in and day out. All over. Constant.

We hurt. We ache. We fall apart. We can barely stand because the utter fatigue weighs us down and threatens to knock us onto our backs regularly. We want to scream because it hurts so much.

Then there are the flare-ups. Ohhh. Such pain and debilitating fatigue. It's like nothing I can explain. So we try not to push too hard, to overdue it, to say yes to too much, to get stuck in situations that we can't get out of, or to over-commit. It taxes our bodies far beyond what a normal body would feel by overdoing it.

But because our pain isn't seen, it's often thought of even still as just IN OUR HEADS.

This is so ridiculous and it just gives us great stress. Which ironically makes us feel 100x worse than we already did.

Not only does Fibro come with pain and fatigue, it also comes with a host of other symptoms, which vary from person-to-person since Fibro is such an individualized syndrome/illness:

- irritable bowel syndrome
- acid reflux
- brain fog
- headaches
- anxiety
- depression
- insomnia or sleep disturbances
- numbness or tingling in hands, arms, legs, and feet
- cramps/weakness
- balance/coordination problems
- muscle spasms
- sensitivities to touch, smells, and lights
- intensely painful menstrual cramps
- restless legs syndrome
- impaired memory and concentration
- dry eyes and mouth
- ringing in the ears
- dizziness
- vision problems
[not an all-inclusive list -- taken from various websites]

So yeah. You don't wake up and wish you had this. But when you have it, you fight. You get up, you keep going (not every day, but most days).

You find inner resolve and strength. You find people like you. And you try to help others understand and become more aware so that we feel less isolated and more cared about.

Fibromyalgia. It can be a killer of your joy, but only if you let it. 


Sunday, May 3, 2015

What Stitches, Cancer, and Broken Fridges Teach You about Life

There are these young boys named Chase & Joshua that have had a grip on my heart for some time now. They are strong, brave, childhood cancer fighters.

Their parents and siblings are my heroes.

They've endured unfathomable pain, hardship, fatigue, and instability. They've had countless doctor and hospital visits. Joshua is now years past it and can hardly remember those days since he was 2. Chase is still fighting the battle of not knowing how long this remission will last or if the tumor that he still has will grow and he'll need more treatment.

Their little bodies have been through A.LOT.

This past week as we were already spiraling from some hard news the week before, and as everything seemed to fall apart left and right from our fridge breaking to Tim's car needing hundreds of dollars worth of work to Elijah twisting his ankle... we then had a bad accident on Monday with Elijah that sent us scrambling even worse.

There was a lot of blood. A lot of screaming. 1 ER visit. 4 stitches on his lower lip. 2 bumped back teeth. A pediatric dentist specialist. A chiropractor. Phone calls. Checking on insurance. Tears. Worries.

Hard news at work. Hard days in our marriage as we were both on the edge of exhaustion and stress. Financial concerns.

Thinking I was pregnant for a couple weeks only to find out we were wrong.

So then, the hormones. Oy. Right alongside Elijah's accident.

Let's just say, I'm really worn down. But in a different way than I have been before. Because God keeps showing me and reminding me of his truths, and I'm listening, feeling, and clinging to him.

Stitches.

4 of them. In his lip. And he still managed to give high fives and blow kisses to the nurses and doctors as we left the ER.

As we hovered over him in that ER, holding him down, trying to help keep him calm, reassuring him that he was going to be okay... I thought of all those parents. Parents like Chase and Joshua's. Parents who have to fight daily and pray constantly that their child will be okay today. That they won't have anything else happen to them. That the world would stop spinning long enough that they could just hold their child and know that it wouldn't be the last time.

I looked at the machines and prayed about the kids I know who are fighting some major illness or cancer and just wanting to have a normal life again.

As I've been thinking over this week and Elijah's two teeth that got knocked out of place, I have agonized and tortured myself about that moment he smacked into the corner of the coffee table and wondered what I could have done differently. How else I could have protected him from that hardship. How I'd give anything to go back in time and make it different for him.

Do the parents of kids fighting cancer deal with those questions every day? How do they face such horrific hardship? Especially those who do not have our hope in Christ?!

I cannot fathom it. And it's painful.

Our pastor and a team from our church have been on a tour (though they just got back) called Risen for the Nations (#risen4nations). They were going around to other church plants from our church around the world in Israel, Malyasia, Kenya, Nepal, and Haiti. They had just left Nepal within less than a week before the earthquake. In Haiti they still saw the devastation of the earthquake there years ago.

They were showing highlight videos. Slums. Poverty. Starving kids. Dark places.

And our fridge broke.

Frustrating days while trying to save money and having to eat out constantly because we can't have fresh food and I don't have the time or energy to figure out other ways around it. Eating anywhere that has kids meals with milk so that Elijah could at least get that into him.

Yet, we are full. We have all that we need and more.

I see these videos and I ache for the people who struggle to even have shelter and food for their families at all. I can't help but weep over the kids who fight cancer and wonder if they'll ever live normally.

I look at my child's busted lip and bumped teeth that make me sad and wish it had never happened to him because this could mess up his mouth for the rest of his life.

And then I remember I have NOTHING to really worry about. God is in control, he is sovereign, he cares for me and for Elijah. There are simply worse things in the world.

Way worse.

I felt so ridiculous complaining at all about our fridge... yet it was admittedly so hard and inconvenient for us, in part because the timing with everything else was just so terrible.

God wants our best. All he asks is that we obey and listen. I have to say I've been whining with him lately. And I know I can't stand it when my son is constantly whining.

Oh how God must view us. So thankless. So discontent. So whiney.

I'm learning a lot these days about life. About who my real friends are. About who I can trust. About God, kids, marriage, jobs, future dreams, life. About laughter and sunshine. About how our hard really isn't that hard when we get our perspective right.

I don't want stitches, cancer, or broken appliances to get in the way of who God wants me to be. So by God's grace, I'm learning and growing.

Tomorrow is a new day. Full of promise and hope.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mighty to Save - and Kid Pictures

Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing, let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior, the Hope of nations.



Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.



So take me as You find me--all my fears and failures.
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow everything I believe in.
I surrender. (I surrender.)



Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.



Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.



Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus
Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King.



Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.



Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save.
He is mighty to save.
Forever, author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave.



Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus
Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King.





Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Gripped by Fear and Anxiety -- A Recap of the Last Few Months




It's been a crazy season for us these past few months. 

Every time I've tried to write about it all in this space, the words have fallen flat. Come up empty. Felt all garbled and messy. I couldn't make things make sense, in part because my life wasn't making a whole lot of sense.

The fear and anxiety that gripped my heart and body so often the past few months is frightening, awful, embarrassing, and consuming. I hate even admitting it... but I will because I know we all need to talk about it more.

In November I began having more anxiety and panic than I'd had in quite a while. My anxiety issues also cause my body to physically react, causing other issues, which thereby make me more anxious. It's a vicious cycle.

I was also having constant daily headaches and painful flare ups, and it all escalated as Elijah got croup! AGAIN!! This happened while we were at my mom's traveling over Thanksgiving. Right after that Tim got a sinus infection, so of course before he was even fully over that, I got slammed by the flu for 24 hours and ... you'd think it'd be over, but nope... on the tail-end of that began a viral upper respiratory infection that left me hoarse and barely able to squeak out words. Overall I was sick for 3.5 weeks, getting better right at Christmas. After we were back home from traveling to see my family before Christmas. Figures.

It was a brutal time.

We figured out that my anxiety and panic was due to some pretty major stress and anxiety as a result of being really overwhelmed. One look at Elijah and I could have a panic attack.

{Disclaimer: let me explain that this had nothing to do with my job or workplace. It was all completely related to parenting and personal health.}

It was terrible. In part it was hard to talk about with anyone, even those closest to me because it was embarrassing. It made me feel like a horrible mother. I would just be hit with waves of panic as I looked at pictures of Elijah, read information about raising toddlers, or whenever I was at home alone with him.

My biggest fear? That I'd die and leave him without a mother. Or that I'd collapse and he'd be on his own for endless hours. {With no rational reason for fearing these things. My health is fine in that sense!} Now that he's a toddler who is more aware of his environment and surroundings, I couldn't wrap my head around what could happen to him if something happened to me, with my husband an hour away at work.

I was terrified. Irrational? Yes. Unfounded? Yes. But I couldn't shake it.

The severe intensity of bad, crippling anxiety went on for weeks. Every day when we were home together I had to get us out of the house when he was awake. Walks outside, going to the mall or Cabela's or Target, being around people. Just in case.

It was utter craziness.

This all hit right at the time of the Daylight Saving Time changeover. Darkness encroaching earlier. Days feeling longer. My body taking the better part of two weeks to recover from something seemingly as simple as a time change. Cold temperatures and thereby fewer walks. Limited playtime outside. Walls caving in on me at home.

Random changes in our lives also added to my stress and anxiety - hubby possibly starting to work-from-home sometime but not certain and timeframe unsettled for months. So many questions about how this would impact us, our marriage, and our parenting. Terrifying fears that I might be pregnant again. Shook me to my very core and hated myself for that, but scared about those weird health issues {that later, as it turns out, are actually 100% anxiety related... figures!}.

No more morning nap for Elijah. Crippling fears about long, longggg days and how I wasn't sure how to fill it. The complete dread of potty-training him. His mobility and awareness - of everything. His constant watching of me and my overwhelming fears that I was screwing it all up in front of his watchful eyes. Disciplining him. Oh the discipline. Oh man. That was hard to get through between 12-18 months. Starting to understand but not quite? Ugh! Constantly feeling overwhelmed about feeding him because he's sooo picky and will. not. eat. what I want him to eat!! Doesn't matter what I do or try, he so often fights it and it's utterly draining. Not able to keep up with the chaos of the holidays, traveling, illnesses, AND keep our house under control. Mess was out-of-control. Elijah was not sleeping well. Ever. Every night he'd be waking up at least 1-3 times, sometimes for 1-2 hours at a time. 

My stepbrother suddenly dying of a heart attack at age 45. My mother-in-law having a mild stroke {gratefully she's doing great now and recovered really well!}.

None of it settled well with me. November. December. January.

Those were really hard, really grueling, really lonely months. 

Of course my husband was well aware of it all {or at least most of it} but what really ended up helping me were the regular conversations and prayer sessions with my mom. Talking to someone who had been through the thick of it, raised us kids mostly on her own after I was 5, and had come out of it much stronger and more godly than many thought possible. She's one of the strongest women I know and is such a prayer warrior.

During this time I clung to God's Word and His promises. I shed a lot, lot, lot of tears on the phone with my mom. Melting down and being prayed over were sometimes exactly what I needed to be able to just breathe again.

Also in the midst of this, our pastor was going through a sermon series that was hitting me very, very hard personally. A lot of things to think over and deal with. Things that brought attacks from Satan as we dealt with strongholds in my life. And I know I wasn't the only one. It was an exhausting, draining time, and even our pastor said it was so for him.

I saw both my primary care doctor and my holistic doctor/chiropractor during this time. I had one panicked phone call to my doctor that caused a visit the next day for a check-up and though everything was fine, another medication was added to my repertoire. Ugh. I was also taking my anti-anxiety medication as needed, and for the first time had one day where I took two of them in one day {which is fine but totally got me jittery and I hated it}.

I was feeling very much at the end of my rope and sanity.

I mentioned to my chiropractor the additional medication, and he in turn introduced me to a female hormone supplement. That. was. amazing. !!!! {Don't worry, it's all-natural, nothing hokey going on there with hormone stuff.}

He was confident that this was a cause of hormonal imbalances - having not gotten back to normal postpartum, as well as some blood sugar and/or thyroid issues. It was making me all out of whack and he said we needed to work on me being more balanced. These supplements have truly been a God-send!

I had been continuing to see him every 1-2 weeks for check-ups, treatments, and adjustments for these issues. And voila!

I've been doing so much better. I still have some tough moments, but nothing at all compared to what it was.

In January, Elijah had more issues that required even having an emergency visit to the chiropractor {who is really more of an alternative care/primary care doctor than what would come to your mind when you think chiropractor}.

As we dove deeper into working with him and learning more of what he can do for us, we've been amazed and completely taken aback.

Alternative medicine is definitely agreeing with us! We are learning so much and changing the way that we look at medical care completely. Our doctor is incredible and truly an extraordinary gift! I was surprised because I had no idea that this could all be this insanely helpful.

I'm not saying this is for everyone, but it's certainly working for us!

Right after the medications helped me level out, our pastor also had a message that helped me see that I wasn't alone in my struggles with fear and anxiety. For some reason I'd been thinking I was crazy.

No, really. Crazy.

Like I was the only Christian having such a hard battle with this. I was beating myself up constantly. He said not to {and so much more, but you get the idea}.

It was a total relief. To realize I wasn't alone. That it's a spiritual battle.

That broken strongholds {like fear & anxiety} will battle to be rebuilt. And we cannot let them. We fight. When we fail, we get back up again. Every word he preached was like a breath of fresh air to my soul at that time. I desperately needed to hear it, and leaned in on every word. It's been life-changing!!

I also did some research about anxiety disorders. I've been trained more fully on blood pressure issues and what to watch for. I know way more than I ever did before about issues I've struggled with for years. It's been hard, but also really good to be more educated.

So hard. So good too.

Life always seems like it would be SO much easier if we never had these crazy hard things to go through, but then we'd never find the positive or learn what we need to grow. That's always a hard truth to let sink in!

I'm pretty much completely past everything from those hard months. I've learned and grown a lot. I can safely say I'm not who I was back in October, that's for sure.



Elijah and I find our days very full now. Full and wonderful, relaxing and memorable, challenging and exhausting, good and joy-filled. I don't worry about any of the things that freaked me out so much previously that all just hit at once. As I read more information and get more educated on all of those things, I find myself at so much more ease. The trick for me is not to fear the unknown, but to just research and understand it better!

The other thing has been just really, truly soaking Elijah in for who he is, and not worrying about the stage he's in. As I grow in knowing myself more as a mother and how I want to handle things with him every day, I see that everything will work out just fine.

He's nearly 21 months. And we are in shock and awe of just how incredible he is!! So smart, so funny, so sweet, so loving. What an awesome gift from God!

I know I have nothing to fear. I'm still working on never having bad anxiety. It's a sprint, not a marathon... right?! ;)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Love and Loss



February is a month full of love. Chocolates, flowers, jewelry ads all over the TV, and a whole lot of red flooding the aisles of every grocery store and superstore.

It's a really hard month for many singles, widows, etc. The tears flow for many as they walk those aisles and keep their heads down, trying to disappear amongst the heartache.

It's also a really hard time for those struggling with the loss of a relationship that's no longer what it used to be.

With love often comes loss. Pain. Hardship. Trials.

February is hard on many of us. It can be so very great, but also so very hard. Sometimes that's in the expectations we have of what our spouse should/shouldn't do for us. Sometimes that's in the deep fear that we'll spend the rest of our lives alone. Sometimes that's in the death of a loved one. Sometimes it's in the reflection on what isn't a part of our lives that we wish still was.

For me personally, this month especially, I'm struggling to see past the dark clouds of a failed friendship.

One of those long-lasting, childhood friendships that suddenly ended 6 months ago in a surprising way for me with a lot of confusion and sadness. Hearing about things I'd done that hurt her deeply and I truly had no idea. My heart is deeply grieved and wounded. I'm not at all sure how to process it, and honestly I think about it all. the. time.

How can I be a better friend? Can this yet be redeemed and the friendship be restored?

There are days it all honestly hurts so badly I can barely breathe.

I found a picture of her the other day. I started shaking as I picked it up. I choked back the flood of tears. The memories flooded my mind and overwhelmed me.

I'm not sure how to feel or what to say. It all aches beyond comprehension, and while she did not die, it somewhat feels like a death. She's gone in so many ways to me. We can't just pick up where we left off in our conversations anymore. We don't talk on the phone, we don't email, we don't text, and we don't see each other.

And oh wow, I really, really, really miss her.

Almost daily.

She was a lifeline for me in so many ways. She was like a sister to me and a part of my family for so long. I cannot believe this is it for us. It just feels like it can't be.

Things change. We grow and mature, we change and life happens. But this? This is ridiculously hard and painful. I am struggling with it so much.

For the ways that I messed up and didn't handle things the way I should have, I repented and she graciously forgave. But that's it, we're just not what we were. We've attempted to talk about it but it's just not happening. I will forever regret what happened.

There is no perfect friendship. No perfect marriage. No perfect anything.

But there are great marriages, incredible friendships, and truly lasting relationships. We have to work hard on both sides, learn to forgive, and seek communication and openness. Relationships are tough and we all have our moments, but the truly amazing friendships that we find along the road of life are the ones that are with us forever... through thick and thin, no matter what.

I'm blessed beyond measure with extraordinary friends. At least a few that I have no doubt will be lifelong friends, no matter where life takes us or how far apart we are physically. They are just those kind of people.

My people. 

I'm sure you have people you also know will undoubtedly be there for you. But if you've ever suffered a loss, you know that life surprises you and it can be crazy hard. We just have to keep doing our best to build and sustain what we have.

February can be so fantastic and fulfilling, wounding and challenging. Love and loss. Joy and sadness.

I pray you are able to embrace whatever comes your way this month and that you love well those who are in your life, and pray for those who no longer are.

[And despite that my February month blog post is weeks behind schedule, I hope you still read this and can find something to get from it even though February is practically over!]



image from flickr

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A 19-Month Old and Future Baby Thoughts

Elijah is 19 months old now.

Running around, still in love with the outdoors, being an even pickier eater than I am, saying more words every day (the way he says flowers, fly, please, and thank you are particularly cute!), climbing everywhere, smashing into things and hurting himself constantly (so. very. accident. prone.), playing more with video boxes and tupperware containers than his actual toys, loves helping put things in the trash (yes, including things we DO NOT want in the trash) and helping out around the house like putting his clothes in the hamper or sweeping (er, his version of sweeping), following us around like a little puppy, in love with "oof oofs" (dogs), loves books and reading so long as he's in the right mood, enjoys craft time, loves people and saying bye bye and blowing kisses even to random strangers, absolutely loved Christmas lights, does well in car rides generally, does an incredible job laying still at the chiropractor's office and being adjusted/treated, still constantly sick with croup or bronchiolitis, and is very much a daddy's boy.

painting with his feet at daycare

He's a true delight and I marvel constantly at him. Even when the days are long and so very hard, or when the challenges that surface are beyond anything I think I can handle either physically or emotionally... I know this time will ultimately fly by. And I'm so very, very grateful for his precious little life.

I soak in his laugh and smile. I kiss his cheeks constantly. Any chance I get I hug him tight. We sing and dance and laugh and chase and snuggle and rock and read and pray and run and push him on cars and visit friends and enjoy life and look up at the sky and breathe in the crisp air and praise God for each new day we get with him.

I have no idea what the future holds. But I've been thinking about it constantly. Nagging at me every moment of the day is the question about whether or not we'll have another child.

It's completely 100% up to God. We are not trying and we are not preventing. We are praying for God's wisdom, direction, and timing in this matter.

We are SO thankful that it's up to him and not us, because we honestly don't know what we'd do. Sometimes we feel like 1 child is perfect - that we cannot handle another one. Something I never thought I'd say in a million years (I simply did not ever want to have an only child). Sometimes I desperately long to carry another baby. Sometimes I get overjoyed at the idea of a sibling for him (knowing full well that would be it - I'll be 37 in June so time is ticking!). Sometimes I get haunted by the idea of him growing up without a sibling to lean on when we're possibly old and gray. I adore my older brother and I cannot imagine my life without him. It pains me. But then I think about a family we know from growing up where the older brother was hit by a car at the age of 13, and she's growing up without a sibling.

Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is certain in this life.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I think about the next 3.5 years. Like everything is up to these next few years. Like when I turn 40 it's all over. Period.

It's hard to focus on simply trusting God.

To not let the fear in that threatens to consume me. To not let that overwhelming panic creep up and suffocate me fully.

Because, you see, if you've been around here long then you know how hard Elijah's birth story was. You know about my health concerns, the need for induction, the long labor process, the sudden need for a c-section, and his 11 days in the NICU which forever traumatized me (and still sometimes haunts me even though I've ultimately grown to be thankful for the experience and all that it taught us). You know how terrifying that all was for me.

And you can understand how hard it would be for me to do it all over again.

I often go back and re-read my friend Mary's birth story of her first daughter. It was even worse and scarier than mine, and has me on the edge of my seat every time I read it. It's a good reminder to me that not only could it have been worse (sorry Mary!), but the second time can be so much different than the first. No pregnancy or delivery is the same, of course.

But it's still so hard to know what to do and think and exactly how to pray about it. How to plan for it (like what to do with that spare toddler bed in our attic that Tim's brother gave us - do we use it for Elijah or do we convert his crib to the toddler bed which is what we anticipated for when he's ready to switch... or do we wait for a baby?... and do we give away his clothes that he's grown out of because if we do have another baby I can't tell you how very desperately I long for a girl and might just shrivel to bits if we were to have another boy, not that it's a big deal, but seriously...?!?!?!). Oh man.

Really though.

I trust God completely and leave it fully in his almighty hands. Not that it's always easy. There are days when I struggle and want to pull the reigns in and handle it all myself.

I want to know. Just like you want to know about that next thing in your life - job, car, house, move, or another baby for you.

The waiting is the hardest part.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)
We are all really so very blessed. And the Lord will continue to reveal his plan for us as the days and years go on. Just keep trusting.

And I will too.

So no matter what happens and whether we have a second child or not, we are over-the-moon crazy about and in love with our little boy.

He has such a sweet, sensitive, helpful, kind spirit despite the stubborn willfulness and feisty attitude beginning to show. Below is a picture of him sweetly rocking a friend at daycare who was tired.



This kid. We love him so very much and cannot believe God blessed us with him. We don't want to take a single moment for granted!!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

In the Illness Trenches

This is not a post to make you feel sorry for me. This is not a post to make you feel guilty if you are healthy.

That being said, let's go....

Being in the trenches of trials and suffering through a chronic illness is often very lonely.

Very. very.

Lonely.

Dark.

Hard.

Somedays it feels like you're climbing a mountain. Daily.

Taking supplements and vitamins. Researching the latest health trends. Researching treatments. Seeing doctors and specialists. Being tested until you're blue in the face. Emailing your doctors so much that you're certain they're convinced you're a bit crazy.

Overwhelmed by articles shared and friends doing their best to share ideas they've heard of with you. It can often hit like a ton of bricks to get yet another suggestion on something to take, to do, or to consider when you've either already heard of it or can't possibly try one.more.thing.

Too much is sometimes too much when you are simply trying to survive. 

Everyone has good intentions, of course. But sometimes we just want to be still. Be quiet. And not have to be faced with the reality of our illness every single moment of every single day.

It's exhausting and draining.

It's a tough road.

All this suffering. In pain. And other random symptoms that are so ridiculous you're not always sure it's part of your illness or just a part of life and you got all the bad luck.

You ask your doctors a million questions. And feel like they're tired of trying to help you. {Even when you feel you have the absolute best primary doctor and chiropractors in the world, like I do.}

You are doing things you never wanted to or ever dreamed of doing. Forcing your loved ones to care for you in ways you could have never imagined. And would never wish on them. It brings tears to your eyes sometimes to think of it.

We desperately long for community, and sometimes all we can do is get online and reach out or seek those who are like us. It's a saving grace for those who are homebound. It's an outlet when there's nothing else.

But real life. Knowing people in person who struggle with chronic illness can be a really big deal and a huge way to deal with it all. Connect with those, whenever and however you can.

I must confess. For me, it continues to be a battle to be close friends with people who are truly healthy in basically every way. I battle jealousy and frustration because I wish I was them. There's a barrier in our relationship that we wish wasn't there. We want to understand and we know they want to understand us, but there will always be a difference in our realities.

One cannot truly understand until they've been there.

It's simply true.

As much as I love those in my life who are healthy, my dearest, closest friends are those who have also struggled. Who can fully share in my joys and fears, my trials and victories, my pain and suffering, my love and zest for life despite it all, and especially those who share my love of Jesus.

I do not want you to feel guilty if you don't have these issues. Truly. It's okay. I just have to be real with those who come here with illnesses. To encourage and remind them that as they battle these feelings too, they aren't the only ones.

For me though, another saving grace is that most of the time, my husband is the one who makes me stay sane with this battle. Though he cannot comprehend what I'm dealing with daily, he lives it alongside of me day in and day out, so he sees and understands better than most.

I know that Fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses are really misunderstood. Some people still believe Fibromyalgia is more in the head than anything else. I wish I could convince anyone reading this that it's not. That concept is still baffling to me. It's an illness. It's so hard. And people thinking it's "made up" just hurts the whole of the Fibromyalgia community.

Today I've had a burst of energy and have gotten a ton of things done around our house. It's a great feeling.

But I've also been fighting a ton of pain today as I've been doing all of that. I hurt everywhere. It just never goes away. So even when I can function well, I'm never ever going to be normal again.

There are days I can do more. There are days I can only rest and want to scream as pain tears through every ounce of my body.

The majority of people cannot possibly understand that. Though they can have sympathy, pray for me, and surround me during desperate times of need... they can't wrap their heads around what my life is fully like. Not that I expect them to.

I just mean that I think those of us dealing with chronic illnesses need people close in our lives who truly understand and can relate on a more intimate level. 

For those of you who are in the trenches with illness, you also need to know that 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You will face dark, hard days. It's going to be okay. 

You will struggle indefinitely, perhaps your entire life. Take it one day at a time. 

You will wish it would end, you will beg God to take it away. Cry out to him in pain and trust him to handle it for you, and pray for his strength.

You will face deep loneliness. You are not alone. Reach out and share your story with others. Let people in. Talk about what fears and struggles you face. Don't give up, there is always hope!

I promise in the end, everything will truly be okay. God will make it right. For now he just asks us to obey and to trust him.

It's a sinful, messy, hard world out there. Everyone has something hard in their lives, and this is what God has allowed for us. It may not make sense most days and you will wish you were healthier, but try to think positively and focus on what ways you've grown through your illness.

In the trenches, alongside you.

Hang in there and remember that God loves you, no matter what.