For the past 19 years,
I have looked like the picture of health.
Looks can be deceiving.
Until recently, what most people didn’t know was that everyday I have been fighting an unseen battle with chronic pain and the anxiety and depression that often accompanies it.
The birth of my first child — one of the greatest days of my life — was also an event that marked a pronounced shift in my health. As one doctor put it, the trauma of childbirth “flipped a switch” in my body. Autoimmune disease — a condition where the body basically attacks itself — first showed up in the form of interstitial cystitis, a painful, debilitating chronic inflammation of the bladder lining. Over the years, I have also developed migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism and chronic lower back pain.
After going to doctor to doctor to doctor, I have found little relief. The endless cycle of getting my hopes up, feeling deceived and disappointed– and in some cases worse off than when I started — has left deep emotional wounds too. This journey has affected my family and friendships, my security and my joy. It has sapped every ounce of my strength.
Honestly, it has challenged my trust in a compassionate and loving God that is truly working for my good.
I couldn’t imagine anyone could truly understand what I was going through — mentally, physically and spiritually. I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. And so I kept my battle private — sharing my pain, doubts and struggles only with those closest to me.
And then God began to do something in me over this last year. It has been a year of brutal, unrelenting pain. And He began to challenge me to come out of the shadows. To share my pain with others. Not just for my sake, but for theirs.
He began to open my eyes to the reality that I was not the only one carrying around an invisible wound. Maybe you’re out there today looking great, but feeling completely debilitated. It might not be physical. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a spouse or a child, a broken or difficult relationship, a prodigal child or a history of abuse.
Just because a wound is life-threatening doesn’t mean it isn’t life-altering.
Whatever your invisible wound might be, you might be asking, as I have many times: What do we do when our mourning just never seems to turn into morning?
This new turn in my ministry is the answer that question. Because God has been showing me — through this seemingly endless valley of pain and disappointment — how He can give me the strength to choose hope, joy and freedom. He’ll do it for you, too. You’re not alone, my friend.
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Jeremiah 31:25
About My Ministry
Not long ago, I started seeing a new specialist. He did a huge panel of labs on me. When I sat down to hear the results, he looked at me, stunned and said, “There are some of the worst labs I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how you are sitting here looking as good as you do and functioning as well as you have. Based on these results, I would expect you would be coming into my office in a wheelchair!”
And yet, ironically, that terrible news was HUGE faith building moment for me. Despite my physical limitations, I realized how God had given me the power and strength to be able to be a wife, raise two special needs children, write a book and engage in full-time ministry.
That, my friend, is a miracle. And a testament to how God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
I’m a graduate of Taylor University in Indiana with a degree in Mass Communications. I spent most of my career as a freelance writer for healthcare companies. In my mid-20s, God began to spark in my heart a desire to write for and minister to women.
About 15 years ago, I began leading weekly women’s Bible studies. I’m currently my church’s Women’s Director, as well as a Small Group Leader Coach. I lead studies, plan events and conferences and encourage women and ministry leaders to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. I also lead a weekly chronic illness support group at my church called “Living Hope.”
For three-and-a-half years, I co-led an online blog and ministry called Mothering From Scratch. My children were simply providing too much humbling and hilarious material to let it go to waste. The blog gave birth to my book, co-authored with Kathy Helgemo, Mothering from Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for Your Family.
Although I still speak and minister to moms, God has led my ministry in a new direction.
My writing and speaking ministry is currently focused on encouraging and giving hope to those in seemingly unending pain — whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional.
My primary ministry, though, has always been to my family. My husband, Mike, is a high school teacher and track coach. He also leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at his school. I’m mom to a strapping teenage son and a beautiful and entertaining teenage daughter. God has used these incredible people in my life to humble me, inspire me and draw me closer to Him.
I am a Regular Contributor to The Mom Initiative and iDisciple, Family Christian Bookstore’s app. My work has appeared in Focus on the Family’s Focus on Your Child newsletters, Clubhouse, In Touch, CBN.com, Lifeway’s Journey devotional magazine for women. My work has also appeared on The Mighty, Power of Moms, Mom Babble, Mamapedia, Bonbon Break and For Every Mom.