Chronic Pain Support Group Training

Whew!  I am starting to catch my breath from the trip to Chicago for the chronic pain support group training last weekend.  I am experiencing more pain than I expected, and it has slowed me down tremendously.

But let me tell you about the training instead!  Pain Connection (a program of US Pain Foundation www.painconnection.org. www.uspainfoundation.org) held the training. Every one attending and the leaders were awesome. We all connected almost immediately.  Many different personalities in the room and different belief systems, but we all came together as one to learn how to help the chronic pain community by starting support groups in our local areas. We also learned things that we can apply to ourselves for self-care like guided imagery and meditation.

We went through so many aspects of chronic pain/chronic illnesses and how to have an effective treatment plan so you can have a good life. I will have plenty of topics to write about and use in a support group setting; too many to name it all here today but I cannot wait to share it all.

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My biggest take away is the Treatment Tree. The Treatment Tree idea and planning can help you to find tools and skills for every aspect of your life: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, career, hobbies, and organization. It recognizes that we have many different ways that chronic pain affects our lives and helps us to find solutions that work every day.

I have never had a doctor that considered all these aspects at one time when deciding different medical treatments for me.  We must be our own advocates. I intend to give the information I have learned to you so we both can take it to our doctors so they can see the big picture. We need more than just a prescription!

I also learned more about our pain being so much more than just in the physical area of an injury. There are so many aspects of our lives that affect our pain, and the brain plays a very large role in ways that I never knew before. As I learn more, I will pass it on.

Chicago was nothing like I have heard about it. I pictured dirty and unfriendly.  We seemed to be in a more industrial area in the north west of Chicago.  It was very clean and everyone we came in contact with was very kind and helpful.  I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.

I love meeting new people and hearing their life stories and this was no different.  It exceeded my expectations and I am so thankful that my hubby and I we both were able to complete the training. 

At the end, we had to pick a stone with a word on it and tell why we chose it.  I chose happiness because I have always chased happiness.  I didn’t say anything profound because being put on the spot like that shuts down my brain.  😁  But I always thought happiness was living without any troubles or sorrows and when I got to that point, I’d be happy. But I have found out that happiness can live amongst the troubles and sorrows. With this knowledge, I became unstuck.

JOY IS BUT THE SIGN THAT CREATIVE EMOTION IS FULFILLING ITS PURPOSE.
– CHARLES DU BOS

That’s what this blog is all about: changing perceptions. Changing the perceptions other people have of people with pain and changing our perceptions of ourselves and our chronic pain journey. 

Knowledge is power.  Go out and get you some!

I am excited!! I am 6 followers from 100.  Help me out!  Follow my blog!

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

Cloud Nine

My head is still in the clouds from the plane ride. I feel completely peaceful tonight. I am exhausted and in major pain but it is worth every wince and groan.

Being validated, knowing someone else “gets it” is empowering. We know we can leave our guard down which makes us more relaxed. And that helps us deal with the pain in our bodies in a more loving way.

I believe support groups or seeing a mental health professional can really help chronic pain patients deal with the constant unrelenting pain and improve their quality of life. It’s all about taking back control, reducing isolation, and keeping your independence.

These past few years you have probably felt like a runaway train recklessly going through the motions to get through the day.  So many people with chronic pain do not have a person that can help support their physical and emotional needs.  A support group can do that.

When you attend a support group you will find others with different pain issues but with almost the exact emotional journeys.

Knowing that others are just like you in that way is validating. Tonight I feel very understood, and I am grateful.

I took a couple of pics with my phone coming in to the airport in Chicago. I am not a professional photographer. It’s just cell phone shots. 😎

This is me. Just happy to be alive and fully partipating in my life!

I hope this helps someone tonight. Maybe you might start a support group of your own. If you would like more information, please contact me directly at validatingchronicpain@gmail.com or through my contact page with the button above in the header.

Please forgive any errors. I am doing this on the fly on my telephone.

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

Good Medicine

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I wanted to check in with everyone. I was missing in action most of May, but it wasn’t on purpose. Mostly, physical issues prevented me from doing all the things I wanted to get accomplished. My migraines are always worse in the Spring and the Fall times of the year. We’ve also had a lot of rain on the east coast of North Carolina. That has contributed to more pain from my back and legs.

But today I feel fantastic. All my meds are working well, and there is sweet sunshine today to encourage me further!

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I did my stretches outside this morning in my backyard. We have a neighborhood pond close to us, and I am very thankful for the view. It is very relaxing early in the morning or late in the evening. Here in the south we already have crazy heat indexes. It’s no fun to be in the miserable heat in the middle of the day.

But I have something else that has been keeping me busy. I am trying to start a support group in my area and online. I am flying to Chicago for a chronic pain support group training. I am so excited and scared! Hubby is going with me to help so I know I will be okay with his help.

I will be learning about how to start a support group specifically for chronic pain warriors to help each of us to not just muddle through life but to continue to get up each morning and find hope and a purpose.

That is coming up in the next couple of weeks so preparing for that and then recovering when I get home will take some time. I plan to blog some repeats for those that are just jumping on board.

Chronic pain has created some very rough times in my life, but it has created opportunities for me to grow stronger as a person in ways that I never dreamed I would be doing.

I am only taking my unplanned life circumstances and turning them into opportunities to help other people. And I think that is the best medicine in the world!

What’s your perspective on these thoughts?

Much love and many prayers,
Cindy

Photo Credit: Cindy @ChronicPainWithAHigherPerspective

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Having the Faith of Apostle Paul

I have always wanted to meet Apostle Paul out of any other person in the Bible. I know that is a shocker because most people say they want to meet Jesus, but I am fascinated with Paul’s letters of strong faith. So, when I heard about a movie of Paul’s life, I knew I had to see it.

Friday night, I saw Paul, The Apostle of Christ in a movie theater with assigned reclining seats!!

Assigned reclining seats is a game changer for this anxiety-filled chronic pain girl going to the movies! I hope you have one like that in your area. I was so comfortable, and I even saw that some people brought blankets. What a great idea! The seats were roomy too. If I could just figure out how to take my heating pad…

paul and luke

In the movie, Luke went to Paul where he was in prison and wrote down Paul’s wisdom for the encouragement of the early Christians. I am so thankful that we have the letters now. Without the struggles that Paul went through he probably would not have been able to give such wisdom. Paul’s writings have always given me strength and motivation to keep on toward the goal on the hard days.

Seeing in the movie what the early Christians went through and the violence committed against them just for their belief in Christ was brutal, but it helps me put some things in perspective about my chronic illness.

Paul had a “thorn in his side.” He begged for God to take it away, but God did not. The MSG versions of 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 explains how Paul felt about his thorn in a way that we can understand it better and apply it to our chronic illness.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10 The Message (MSG)

6 If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk.

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

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Have you cried out to God to take your thorn of chronic pain away? I have. I’ve gotten mad that He wouldn’t take it away. Some days, I am still kicking and screaming. It can be easy to get stuck being angry about it, but Paul boasted about his weaknesses. He had baggage just like us. Everyone has things they regret, or they don’t like about themselves, and even Paul had issues.

In the movie, he was sleeping, and the dreams of his past when he persecuted Christians haunted him. The devil’s angel of condemnation was visiting him trying to undermine his faith. Can you imagine Paul’s conversation with God?

Paul:
Please God let me out of prison and give me my life back!

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Paul:
I cannot handle living this way!

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Paul:
Please, God, take away my thorn in my side.

God:
My grace is sufficient for you.

Why didn’t God make Paul free or take away his thorn? He had the power to do it. Couldn’t Paul do more for Christ on the outside of the prison rather than inside? We think we know how the story should go but God has His own higher plan. Things we cannot see coming. We must rely on faith as Paul did.

With his thorn in his side, whatever that might have been, Paul said he delighted in his weakness. Do we resign to be miserable or can we make a conscious decision of choosing to delight and even boast in our weaknesses as Paul did? I know that the thought of this is painful because all of us really just want to be fixed, but what if that isn’t in the plan? That’s a hard thing to wrap your head around, I know.

The best thing we can do is trust in God’s bigger plan and rest in Him. Easier said than done sometimes, isn’t it? We are to have the faith of a child. Sometimes a child does not fully comprehend a situation and has to trust their parents to take care of them. We should do the same with God. We are His children, and we can trust Him.

 

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Faith Comes From Hearing the Word Romans 10:17

 

 

How did I get to the point of just trusting God?

I look at scriptures to find my faith and trust. Reading the Word creates faith through the Holy Spirit. I study it by reading different versions to make sure I understand the content.  It is also important to know what context of the verse or verses such as who wrote it, to whom it was written and the culture at the time it was written.

I also read Bible commentaries that you can find online. (Scroll down the page on Bible Gateway, and you will find the free Matthew Henry’s Commentary for the Bible.)

We need to believe the truths that we have been given in the Bible and apply it to our lives. 

Praying also helps. Do you let Satan push you to your knees in despair or does it put you on your knees in prayer? Tell your thoughts to God. Tell him all of them. He can handle it, I promise. He already knows how you feel, but He wants you to tell him; so just say it out loud and get it in the light of Jesus. Sometimes we fear what God thinks of us, but we need to look at ourselves the way God looks at us. Do not be ashamed and allow God’s love to flow over you. It’s ok to be honest with God.

What hard questions are you asking God today?

How do you handle your “thorn in your side?”

Are you asking God to take your body out of the prison of your illness or are you choosing to delight in your weakness and boast in Christ’s strength?

What do you think Paul’s thorn was?

Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

 

 

Bible Verse from The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Photo Credits:

Photo by Jacob Meyer on Unsplash

Movie Photo by CTMG

Photo by Alex Woods on Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

Sharing A Chronic Pain Perspective

Reading time 2 mins 20 secs

Tonight, my friend and I were discussing accounting strategies, and I was trying very hard to understand a specific way she processed something. I had to play “21 questions” to finally understand.

I could not see things from her perspective. It sounded like, to me, she did a lot of extra work, but she was certain her way was easier and maybe even quicker. We had the same end results but, we didn’t see the process the same. The differences in our lives created our unique perspectives. Obviously, no one has been through exactly everything you have been through; maybe similar, but not the same.

The questions I asked my friend led me to a mutual understanding eventually, but it was difficult. At first, I had a blank picture in my head of what she was talking about, but with each answered question I was provided a puzzle piece. Slowly, the picture emerged, and I began seeing through her eyes — her perspective.

 

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The problem is that we always listen to respond and do not listen to understand. I wanted to hurry up and tell my friend my process, but when I started trying to see things her way and ask more questions to clarify, it became easier.  James 1:19 offers some valuable insight and wisdom to help us:

James 1:19 New International Version (NIV)
19 My dear brothers and sisters,(A) take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak(B) and slow to become angry,

 

How often do we find ourselves quick to listen and slow to speak? I know that’s not my first thought. I want to explain my point of view immediately. But when I listen with curiosity, the questions come easy, and the picture in my head quickly starts lining up with the picture in their head. Once I understand their perspective only then can I give them the information they are missing to see things from my perspective. This works both ways.

We must first try to understand others so that we can help add our puzzle pieces to their thoughts. If someone doesn’t see things the way you do, they may need more information that only you can give them from your life experiences.

Why is this important to people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain?

It creates empathy. Right now, the chronic pain community needs a tremendous amount of compassion because we now have our own epidemic along with the opioid addiction epidemic- an epidemic of untreated painful conditions that could lead to suicides because the pain is unbearable without proper medications.  That’s why I am always saying, share your stories! No one can understand if we don’t get our voices out there.  Write emails to your elected officials, track what different government agencies are making decisions on and make your opinion known.  The U.S. Pain Foundation has an advocacy page that is a great place to start learning how to get your voice heard.

I love this quote that has been attributed to Roy T. Bennett: “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”

Begin by trying to understand others, then ask yourself, “How would I feel?” If every person did that, imagine what it could do to the world we live in!

Much Love and Many Prayers,

Cindy

Facebook  @ChronicPainWithAHigherPerspective

 

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions that I provide are my own and should not to be taken as the stance, position or viewpoint of the U.S. Pain Foundation.

Can You Have Chronic Pain and Still Feel Blessed?

Reading Time 2 min 42 sec

I have been unable to sleep tonight due to the burning pain in my back and the vice grip feeling in my leg. I just pushed myself too hard last week, and I am still feeling it and regretting it. There is always a give and take when you live with chronic pain. To continue living, you need to accept that some of your “reward” for trying to continue living full lives will be pain and that may come in the form of physical or emotional suffering. They are tied together, but how do you reconcile the “reward” of earthly pain and still feel blessed?

I came across this commentary about feeling blessed even when your world feels upside down and out of control. Read Matthew 5:1-11 aloud.

Matthew 5:1-11 New International Version (NIV)

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes(A)

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(B)
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.(C)
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.(D)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.(E)
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.(F)
Blessed are the pure in heart,(G)
    for they will see God.(H)
Blessed are the peacemakers,(I)
    for they will be called children of God.(J)
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,(K)
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(L)

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you,(M) persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.(N)

 

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Really? I am supposed to feel blessed right now at 3 a.m. while I am unable to sleep due to the burning shooting pains in my back and the vice grip on my leg and foot? I am also worried about how bad tomorrow is going to be and when will I get a break from the relentless pain. It has taken a while to digest the reality of these verses, but here is a commentary to help put it in a higher perspective.

“Blessed” translates the Greek word makarios. It could be rendered as “happy” or “fortunate” if those words aren’t taken in a shallow, emotional way. Makarios is a state of existence in relationship to God in which a person is “blessed” from God’s perspective even when he or she doesn’t feel happy or isn’t presently experiencing good fortune. Negative feelings, absence of feeling, or adverse conditions cannot take away the blessedness of those who exist in relationship with God.” (Emphasis is mine.)
————————————-
Michael J. Wilkins. The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 204.

 

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http://www.validatingchronicpain.com

In this sermon, Jesus assures us that we will be rewarded — but perhaps not in this life. I am so thankful for this hope I have that one day I will put on a new infallible body in heaven. There will be no pain, no night, and no crying. That’s my reward for being faithful. Everything I am feeling tonight will be gone. I feel like I can’t wait for that day, but I must.

In the meantime, I have to hold time to Jesus’ teachings. There is still work to do, and that will include daily pain. When I get to heaven, I hope God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

So, yes, I feel very blessed by God that I have chronic pain. That may sound crazy, but it all has contributed to who I am today. God is refining me for something special — the day I return home.
Much Love and Many Prayers,
Cindy

Follow on Facebook @ChronicPainWithAHigherPerspective

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The author has added italics in Scripture quotations for emphasis.
Photo Credits: Cindy Dawson/Free Images/Pixaby

Taking My Own Advice

Someone that is very close to me was shocked that I said it was a long walk from the car to the door of the building. It really wasn’t very far…if you are not disabled! All the handicapped spots were taken, and my hubby offered to drop me off at the door, but I did not want to be singled out like that. I should have accepted the offer.  Instead, I chose to keep looking at my feet just focusing on one painful step and then the next one.

We were headed to something fun, but I was dreading it. I have been in so much pain this past week and a half. Just over the top pain that it hurts to breathe. But I would have been in pain no matter what so I decided to go anyway. It was just one of those times that you know that you are going to pay for it, but you do it anyway. I needed to get out of the house to clear my head and be around other people, so I pushed myself to go.

I was so hurt by the statement. I was humiliated. I cringed at the truth of what they said. The statement taunted me that I had a hard time walking such a short distance. The statement made me very mad at my body for letting me down.

I could have said something in my defense and enlightened her, but I didn’t. I just didn’t have the mental energy because the pain always depletes it. Thankfully, my brain did work enough, and I remembered quickly what mama always said: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I am hoping that the awkward silence was enough to make a loud statement. I doubt it did though.

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I do not want to be internalizing this, so I want to post it and let it go. I’ve always had anxiety, but the chronic pain has increased it because of so many factors are out of my control every day because of the pain. I talked some about my struggle with anxiety in a previous post.

As I type this, the doubts about myself are starting to kick in. I have only begun to understand my anxiety after a year and a half working with my psychologist. But situations like these set off the emotions. I just wish I could get people to understand what having chronic pain is really like. They say they know how we feel, but they don’t. They never will, unless they experience it for themselves. Even the ones closest to you.

The thought process has been laborious, but I am trying to choose to be positive. That’s why I called the blog Chronic Pain With A Higher Perception because I’m deciding to change my perception.  I can’t change others, but I can improve myself.  This is the best thing I can do for my health.

I am going to find some other positive blogs to help my resolve, and I will pray that the person will never experience pain as I have.

How would have you handled this situation? Has anything like this happened to you, and how did you remain positive?

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy

 

 

Chronic Pain, Fear and God’s Promises

Reading time 4 minutes 45 seconds

I’m just going to be honest. I’m struggling really bad this week. So many factors are affecting me at one time, and it’s adding anxiety and depression to my chronic pain. Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings:

The let down after all the Christmas excitement goes away.
The miserable cold, dreary weather that has left me unable to get out of the house for days.
The increasing physical pain due to the cold weather.
The frightening news that unfolds every day seemingly getting unbelievably worse all the time creating fear about the future.
Family illnesses and elderly parents.
And as I round the corner to turning 50, I’m feeling a lot of regrets and other personal struggles…

discouragement
http://www.ValidatingChronicPain.com

I’ll stop listing things, so I don’t increase your anxiety and make you depressed, but all of the things have one thing in common: fear. Some type of fear factors into each one of the events I mentioned, mostly about the future.

The Psalms address David’s fear through his poetry or songs. I had a hard time understanding how the Psalms could be applied to me since it seemed that David was being attacked by Saul physically; he had earthly enemies. I don’t think I have any human enemies. I don’t have anyone that wishes to do me bodily harm as David did. But it dawned on me that my enemy is the devil. So when I read the Psalms, I will substitute “enemies” with “the devil” because fear comes from the devil. He increases the alarm bells to get your focus off of God. The devil is trying to keep you busy with worrying so you will not have peace. Worrying is useless for us, only causing emotional and physical pain but very productive for the devil. He is trying to stop the spread of God’s kingdom.

If you have a relationship with God, then the devil does not have your soul or your eternity, but the devil will do anything to misguide you off the correct path — a little fear, mixed up with anxiety can swell into depression. He can renderer us helpless if we let him. We just have to keep fighting the fear with the Holy Spirit leading us.

Psalm 37 has many powerful verses full of God’s promises proclaiming that if we trust (trust that His plan is better than what we can see) in the Lord, we will find peace: a release of fearful anxiety and depression. But there are things that we must do. God very plainly says do “this,” and you will endure. It’s hard work sometimes so surround yourself with people that will help you back up.

Psalm 37 (NIV)

Verse 1: Do not fret. Bottom line: God commands us not to worry.

Verse 3: Trust in the Lord and do good. Ask God to help you with your unbelief and trust Him.

Verse 4: Take delight in the Lord. Find joy in knowing who God is and what He has done for you.

Verse 5: Commit your way to the Lord. Determine to do good.

Verse 7: Be still before the Lord. Pray and read scripture and listen to God to speak – not audibly but through the Bible. Everything you need to know is in the Bible.

Verse 7: Wait patiently for Him. Sometimes we think God should move faster. Trust me; He knows what your timeline should be like better than you do.

Verse 8: Refrain from anger and turn from wrath. Do not become bitter. Constant disappointments or physical pain can make you lose hope and become angry. Pray about this if you are mad at God for your situation.

Verse 27: Turn from evil and do good. Again, determine to do good.

Verse 34: Hope in the Lord and keep His way. Lay your burdens at His feet.

Each of these commands from God requires us to analyze our immediate surroundings. When I feel anxiety coming on, I try to ask myself a few questions like, Am I safe right at this moment? What can I do right now to address the fear/anxiety immediately? If there is nothing I can do, then I tell myself over and over that I have done everything in my power that I can do about the situation and lay the worries at the foot of the Cross. If I don’t “Let go and Let God,” I feel it emotionally with anxiety and depression and physically with increased chronic pain.

I believe there is a direct correlation between emotional pain and physical pain. High anxiety or a bout of depression can increase your pain for many reasons. I know for me it is because when I’m worried or depressed, I tense up every muscle in my body.  It is a never-ending cycle. Stress increases pain, and then pain increases stress and so on.  Our lives are just so complicated which gives way to more emotions than we can handle and we go in to fight or flight mode. I become completely overwhelmed.

This is when I use scripture to help me with the devil’s schemes. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t read scripture and BOOM! I have peace, and my pain is gone. It is a daily, sometimes, hourly struggle. Today, I’m in a minute by minute mode. So, I know how you feel. Just keep picking yourself back up by surrounding yourself with positivity and scripture is the best place to start. I also encourage you to write down thoughts.  Whether you share it or not doesn’t matter. Either way, writing or journaling can create meaning and purpose and hope just for yourself, but if you share it, you can reach others helping them at the same time.  We need to be there for each other. You don’t have to go through this alone.

I want to end with a devotion prayer I read for today. The book is called “Daily Gratitude” with contributing writer, Joanne Mattern.  It was given to me last year by a dear friend. I could not find a link to share with you, but Amazon has many others to choose from. Just search “daily gratitude in Books.”

This prayer reminds me while my body is in pain, and maybe even my mind is too, I still need to find something to be grateful for because God dwells in me.  There is something extraordinary about acknowledging God’s spirit living in you through the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

Creator God,

Thank you for this body. Thank you for the gift of movement, the gift of touch, the gift of laughter.  When I ‘m at odds with my body, please help me focus my thoughts to what my body can do and the ways it can serve you.  Thank you for the nerves and synapses, arteries and brain cells, that make me who I am, Your Creation.  Amen

Cindy

Disclaimer

Finding Joy

Read in 4 mins 27 secs

I can’t believe it has been over a month since I posted my first blog piece about chronic pain and hope.  Suddenly, it is the Fall/Winter season, and I’m wondering where the summer disappeared to because I can feel the cold in my bones already. It’s just too soon!  I don’t care for cold weather because I grew up loving the beach.  Having chronic pain has made me dislike the winter season even less. The cold seems to magnify my discomfort, and I let the dreariness of too many sunless days in a row deflate my joy.

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When I end up flat in bed because the pain is debilitating, I usually become bored with television, reading, and playing on my phone very quickly. I was able to crochet while laying flat for awhile but eventually, that became boring too.  Over time, you just run out of things to do to keep the mind busy.  I don’t know if you are the same, but that’s when the negative thoughts start running amuck in my head.  You can’t do ANYTHING anymore!  You have to always cancel, and you disappoint friends and family! There is no more joy for you! You’re a burden on your family! Why can’t I have my life back?  How long do I have to endure this God?

I have to say, I did a lot of talking at God, but I had forgotten to listen… until recently.

A few months ago, I was talking with someone about how my life had gone in such a downward spiral because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to anymore. I was in a very negative frame of mind at this time. My friend wouldn’t accept my “pity party” and challenged me to find positive things to focus on; to reframe my perception. I knew that the most important thing should be God and I will admit, at the time, God wasn’t my complete focus.  I was so zeroed in on the negative things that my pain had become a prison of self-absorption.

I picked my Bible back up, and after meeting God regularly, my negative thoughts slowly began to fall away, and even in the midst of pain, I also found some precious joy.  No, I wasn’t out of pain physically, but I think some of my raw emotions were being healed through scripture and prayer. The Psalms in the Bible are a great place to start studying because it describes David crying out to God many times and how God answered David.  You can also pray these prayers and promises from the Psalms and find joy and hope.

In the Bible, when David was hiding in a cave from Saul, he literally cried out to the Lord, and that is what we need to do when we feel we have nothing else on the impossible days.

Psalm 142

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

God’s Word is a balm to my pain.    Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105 NIV

I just need to remember where to look. I’m trying to make the conscious decision that I shouldn’t let things or other people or even the weather dictate how I feel emotionally.  But when you feel awful because of physical pain due to the weather like this recent season change, that can be a tough thing to do.

Now that I’ve been reading God’s Word, praying, and trusting God for my joy, I found that it makes all the difference in the world! See, when I got my focus back, I discovered that I can claim God’s promises for joy.

When I figured out that I had to purpose joy in my soul, some things became mentally easier to handle.  My pain isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I’m pretty sure of that, but when my attitude is full of joy because of God’s promises, I can endure the pain easier.

To help, I decided to make a little Focus Book.  My Focus Book holds scriptures, quotes, and prayers.  You can call your book anything you want and put anything you feel is important to remember when you are down physically or mentally. You can make a quick one or two sentence cards of things you want to remember when you are feeling down and call it your Gratitude Book.  I found a cheap and small one at Walmart. (I am not getting any compensation for any of my links.)

myndology focus book

It’s about 2 inches by 3 inches.  You can also use index cards.  They come in all sizes.  Just punch a hole in the cards and keep them together with a ribbon but not in a knot so you can keep adding new cards when you find inspiration.  Mine is small enough that I can easily carry it around with me.

When I feel like I just can’t keep going, I pick up my little focus book and start reading until I feel my mood lifting.  Some days it works fast.  Some days it doesn’t; it comes slowly, and some days, it just doesn’t work at all, and I know that God’s Grace covers me on those days.

My challenge to you is to find joy through reading scripture and prayer and pull yourself up to the light and away from the darkness.

Need some help finding God’s promises in the Bible? Try www.365promises.com. They have a promise for each day of the year.

***************MUSIC AS THERAPY********************

Jonny Diaz – Joy

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Resources:  BibleGateway.com  365promises.com

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