Category Archives: health

Because you ask not…

Headache health medicine woman pop art retro style

Does she have a headache… or is she trying to blow up your head?

Six weeks ago, at the beginning of October, I had a horrible, painful, concentration-breaking, sleep-depriving, nasty sinus headache. In the grand scheme of things, not really a big deal. I knew I’d get through it soon enough, I was just going to have to “tough it out.”

Unfortunately, it would appear that I’m not really that good at “toughing it out.”

By day three of my headache, I was getting pretty miserable. Over the counter stuff didn’t seem to be helping. I must have looked about as bad as I felt. My pastor (who is also my boss) noticed and asked if he could pray for me. I gladly accepted, but I wouldn’t have requested prayer myself. Pastor Nathan had just gotten back from visiting with several families in local hospitals. My silly little headache was so trivial and insignificant compared to what those folks were facing.

But right there in the front office/reception area, he prayed for me. And just as he was finishing, his next appointment walked in.

Even if the story ended right there, it still would have been a wonderful, positive experience for me. But it got even better, because the congestion and pressure that had been causing my headache broke up and the pain went away. I could breathe again. I could think again! And apparently, I looked a lot better too.

Even now, a month and a half later, I almost hesitate to write this phrase: but I was healed. I hesitate because I’ve been in churches where there’s a whole lot of bad doctrinal baggage around sickness and healing. I hesitate because in so many church circles, that’s a really loaded statement. And I hesitate most of all because I just have this fear that if I come out and say “I was healed” but then the next day I’m sick again… what then?

I’m not talking about a fear of looking bad in front of people. Lord knows I’m perfectly capable of that without any intervention, divine or otherwise! But here’s the thing: if I step out and tell others that I’ve had God answer a prayer, and then it somehow seems to get undone, how do I process that internally? Was I mistaken, perhaps caught up in the moment emotionally? Or did I do something to undo it? Does my failure to be healed (or some future illness) make God look bad to those who heard my story?

It’s easier to just not say it. So I didn’t.

This was my Facebook status from that afternoon:

Sometimes, when so much “big” stuff is going on around me, I almost feel guilty or even petty for bothering God or others with my “small stuff.” But today, I was reminded that God is big enough and cares enough to handle the big stuff AND my small stuff 🙂

The truth is, I hate intentionally vague statuses like that. I shared something significant without sharing anything significant at all! No one outside of my immediate circle had any idea of what I was really talking about.

I intended to blog more about it back then, but then, you know, life happened, and…

Fast forward to the last 10 days or so. The rest of October was a blur, preparing for “Hallelujah Night,” a carnival-themed Halloween Alternative event. It was a lot of work, but a huge success!

And then I got sick… again. A few days after the event, my stomach started giving me trouble. Nothing serious, I figured I had a bug or it was just all the activity of the previous month finally catching up with me. I dealt with it by trying to be careful about what (and when) I ate. Then this past Sunday morning, it was bothering me enough that I had to leave church as soon as worship was over, and I continued to have issues with it this week.

In our Wednesday evening services, we’ve been working through a series called Gospel Shaped Worship. This week’s topic happened to be prayer. Pastor Nathan shared that he had gone through a period where he was praying mostly general prayers instead of praying for very specific things. And while there’s nothing wrong with general prayers, and we do have to be careful to make our prayers more than just a laundry list of needs and wants, Pastor Nathan found himself challenged to pray more specifically again.

Sometimes we avoid praying specific prayers because we’re afraid we’re not going to get the answer we want. There are examples in the Bible of people who prayed fervently and did not receive what they prayed for. King David prayed that his baby would live (2 Samuel 16). Jesus has even prayed prayers that were not answered the first time he prayed them (Mark 8 / John 17).  When we realize that it’s OK to pray for things, even if we don’t get the desired result, that’s a very freeing thing. Prayer is supposed to be conversational, taking real issues to a real Father who really cares, regardless of what His answer is.

Bro. Nathan also used the story of praying for me with my headache in early October as an example of why we shouldn’t be afraid to bring everything, even the seemingly little things, to God. I had almost forgotten about that day. (How quickly we forget!) As he shared the story from his perspective, I was encouraged and convicted at the same time. I had been dealing with these stomach issues for a week and never once asked for prayer.

At the end of the service last night, Bro. Nathan asked everyone present to pray for him for a foot pain issue, then opened it up to anyone else who wanted prayer. More than half of those present asked for prayer, including me. It wasn’t a huge service, many folks were out of town, but I will probably remember it as one of the “biggest” Wednesday Night services of the year in terms of it’s significance. It was “healing” in more ways than one. It was authentic, genuine, laid back, raw, sweet. It was “church” in the truest sense of that word.

So how’s my stomach? I am feeling better today. I’d love to say it was 100% better, but it’s OK that I’m not there yet. It’s not about a result. It’s about a relationship.

“Jesus Loves Me*”

Chris Tomlin has a new song called “Jesus Loves Me.” It’s not the children’s song- but the message is the same. It’s been on the radio a lot recently, and honestly, it didn’t really stand out to me at first. I thought it was “nice,” but it took a long ride home after a few very demanding weeks for the song to really sink in for me.

Here’s an acoustic version of the song:

It happened on road trip to Dallas to attend (and volunteer at) a conference. I was already worn out from an intense month with several big (at least, for us) events, the largest of which had just taken place in the days leading up to the conference. I arrived early and served as scheduled for the first day. I was thrilled when some of the staff & other volunteers remembered me by name! And I was floored when some of the attendees even remembered me from the year before. That first day went well, despite the busy-ness and little hiccups you encounter along the way, and I couldn’t help but feel good about it all afterwards. It was an encouraging start to what promised to be a wonderful few days.

Except for one thing. As the evening progressed, I realized that I wasn’t feeling good. I was coming down with a pretty nasty cold. I started to lose my voice. I was coughing and congested.

I was sick. But that was quickly becoming an understatement. I was miserable 🙁

I was miserable enough that the next morning I decided to leave early. I hate letting folks down, and I felt bad for backing out of my commitment. I even still felt that twinge of guilt for not being healed. I had also been looking forward to sitting in on some of the sessions and hearing certain speakers, and I was disappointed that I’d be missing out. Feeling a bit defeated, I turned on the radio and began the 5 hour drive back to Pineville.

Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me” song was played four times during that drive — on different Christian radio stations as I passed through different cities along the way. The first time, it kinda annoyed me. Yeah, of course I know Jesus loves me. Everyone knows that. How many times do we have to sing that phrase? 

If you asked me if I believed that Jesus loved me, I wouldn’t have hesitated to say “Yes.” But what did that mean, really? In my mind, it was an absolute truth… but in a very generic, impersonal, “God so loved the world” way. It was “Jesus love me*” with an asterisk – a loaded footnote full of qualifications and terms and conditions and legalese fine print.

I believed that He loved me in the sense that he didn’t totally hate me. It wasn’t a warm fuzzy love… it was more of a distant love. He mostly tolerated me, though I imagined just barely at times. And on a day when I was driving home sick, run down, and having failed to fulfill my commitment… did Jesus love that? I didn’t think so.

But by the time I was hearing the song for the third time on that drive, the message was (finally) getting through and I was tearing up.

“Jesus, He loves me…” even when I’m sick, worn out, empty, and have nothing left to give.

“He loves ME…” not just what I can do. He doesn’t just love me when I’m accomplishing stuff or doing things right.

“He is for me…” even when I feel discouraged and alone.

“Jesus, How can it be?…” That was the question. How could it be true? How could He love me in my mess? In my failures?

“He loves me…” in a very personal, close-up, genuine, unconditional way. With no asterisks.

“He is for me…” even more than I could ever possibly comprehend…


I’ve been fighting what folks around here unaffectionately call “the crud” — a cough / congestion thing that’s making the rounds — for over a week now. Today it didn’t seem quite so bad, so I decided to run to the store to pick up a few things (mistake #1). And instead of going to the huge Walmart that I’m very familiar with, I decided to try a smaller grocery store that I hardly knew (mistake #2).

I hadn’t even been in the store for 5 minutes when it hit without warning: a coughing fit. Not a polite cough. Not even a short burst of typical “sick person” coughing. This was a feel-like-I-just-inhaled-an-entire-bottle-of-cinnamon-with-a-fire-ant-chaser out-of-control register-on-the-Richter-scale coughing. My eyes watered. I could hardly catch my breath. My chest hurt and I was afraid I might pass out or throw up because I was coughing so hard. I couldn’t stop. I tried to find an empty aisle to hide in but it was nearly lunch time and the store was busy. I tried to calm down and stifle the coughs but that only made it worse.

I just wanted to disappear. But a woman coughing up a lung in the middle of an otherwise tranquil grocery store will inevitably attract some attention. Which makes me try even harder (and with even less success) to control the coughing. I could feel my face burning, a result of both the coughing fit and the panic that rising in me from finding myself in a public place involuntarily “making a scene.”

I wound up hastily getting into the checkout line with my last tattered kleenex clamped over my mouth and less than half of my list in the cart. At least I didn’t have to worry about anyone hovering too close to me in the line this time! And I was relieved to finally get through the line and back to my car.

This is the closest I’ve come to having a panic attack in public in a couple of years now. Once I got back in my car the panic subsided, but the coughing fit continued even after I made it back home. So. Not. Fun.

And one of the items I didn’t manage to pick up on this trip? Yeah. Cough drops.

And No, I’m not going back out there.

UPDATE: Not long after I first posted this, there was an unexpected knock at my door. Thank God for local friends who read my blog & have pity on me!


Residual Guilt

A few weeks ago, my foot was hurting so badly that I was to the point of tears. I was at church with our team setting up for the service. My pastor noticed, and asked if he could pray for me. I was grateful.

But at the same time, I felt a twinge of guilt… because I wasn’t healed.

Bad theology leaves scars. Even bad theology taught with sincerity and good intentions.

When you’re taught that doctor-and-medicine-free healing is pretty much guaranteed — as long as you’re living, speaking, and believing correctly — it’s hard to NOT feel guilty when life throws you a curve ball. I was taught that if my faith wasn’t strong enough to “get my healing,” there was probably something wrong with me spiritually: I was living in sin or not spending enough time in the Word or not mature enough or not giving enough financially to the church.

I don’t actually believe that stuff anymore. It’s been years since I’ve been anywhere that taught anything even remotely like that. But even after all that time, that little bit of residual guilt is still there. Not a crippling fear anymore, but just that momentary twinge of feeling like I’m not good enough.

Thank God I don’t have to be good enough. It was never about me in the first place. God’s not dishing out punishments for minor infractions like some petty spoiled child. Life happens. Sometimes it’s not what we wanted or expected. But God is more interested in us fixing our eyes on Him than He is in fixing our circumstances down here.

Walking through pain

A little over five weeks ago, I hurt my heel. The pain seemed much worse first thing in the morning and after sitting down for long periods of time. I was afraid I might have broken something, but it’s actually a common condition called Plantar Fasciitis (PF). It’s not serious, but it is seriously annoying… and it will take months to fully heal (or longer, if I ignore the pain and don’t take care of it).

Actuallyheelwrap, it’s kinda hard to ignore the pain. I never really spent any time thinking about my left heel before PF. Now, it’s difficult to NOT think about it. Finding appropriate shoes has become an issue. Sandals (the mainstay of my existence before) are out for now. Sneakers are in. Stairs and steep inclines make me cringe. Most of the time, the pain in my heel is bearable and intermittent, but there have been at least two or three occasions so far where it’s been bad enough to bring me to tears.

It’s been five weeks now. But if the anecdotal stories of other sufferers are any indication, I’m not even close to halfway through this yet. And it’s getting old… fast. Sometimes when I’m sitting down working at my computer, I can almost forget that there’s a problem. Then I stand up again.

It’s just my heel. But as 1 Cor 12:26 says, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” I definitely have a new appreciation for that verse. It’s only my foot that hurts, but all of me is miserable. And at the end of the day when I get to put on these socks with the frozen gel packs in them… all of me is relieved!

When Normal… Isn’t.

One of the “milestones” I hit this year wasn’t a good one: My first hospital stay & surgery. The “gallbladder attack” that sent me to the emergency room was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Thankfully, gallbladder removal is a very common procedure, and there were no complications. I was sore & bloated for a few weeks, but the recovery wasn’t nearly as painful or difficult as I had imagined. Within two weeks, I was pretty much back to my regular routine.

It’s been almost 7 weeks now since the surgery. I still have tender spots where a couple of my staples (which were used instead of sutures) had gotten irritated and infected. I also still feel like I’m tiring out much more quickly than I did before the surgery… but honestly, the holidays are kinda crazy even under the best of circumstances, and this year has been especially busy. It is entirely possible that I would have been this wiped out even without the surgery! Of course, having medical bills hanging over me (and not even knowing if I’ve received all of the bills yet) is weighing on me a little bit as well, and I’m sure that’s not helping!

But in the grand scheme of things, all of that is minor. Life after surgery has been very good for me. And one of the most surprising things I’ve discovered over the last seven weeks is that what I long considered “Normal” …wasn’t. I didn’t recognize it, but for years I was having symptoms of gallbladder issues. They started slowly, gradually. When I noticed the symptoms at all, I attributed them to food poisoning, stomach bugs, or just getting older and not being able to eat certain things anymore. I assumed it was all “normal.”

Only, it wasn’t normal. I just didn’t recognize that until AFTER the surgery. Once the gallbladder was out, the symptoms were gone. I almost didn’t believe it at first – I thought it was a lingering effect of the antibiotics or pain meds. But a week later, it started to sink in. I wouldn’t have to the live with the dull, low level pain and discomfort that had become like background noise in my life. I wouldn’t have to worry about eating certain kinds of food anymore. It was amazing, but I still understood that the surgery wasn’t a magic pill. There was risk involved. It was painful. And there was a cost. But I’m loving the new normal that it has created for me.

And it has made me think about other areas in my life where I’ve settled for a “normal” that really needs to be challenged and changed… even if it require drastic measures.