Pain, Life’s Teacher

I find life fascinating. The people in it and the various circumstances that I have found myself. Although I have suffered for most of my life, I still discover a beauty to the grand pageant of nature’s existence that caused me to gasp my breath.

I have always listened to the silence of solitude and have learned the lessons that it has taught me well. One of those teachings has been that life has not been the harbinger of doom that I used to believe that it was because I had been through so much pain and hardship. There is a class and dignity all their own that I would not have discovered had I not been through the sufferings I had endured. For with suffering comes a bridge of glory that only those who have been there comes to know.

When I allowed the pain to teach me instead of beat me, there emerged vitality and vigor within me that surprised me. There was more to me than I thought.

No matter what you are going through, life is still good. I’ve heard it said once that every day above ground is a good day and I hold to that tenet. Every day that we are blessed with another day alive is a blessing not to be squandered, but appreciated. Things may be difficult for you right now, but trust that you will get through it. Our trials and troubles come to pass, they don’t come to stay, although the wait for them to end may seem interminable. Hang in there. It’s going to get better. I know what I am talking about. When I was homeless on the streets of Montana, I was so frightened. But the Lord brought me through that period of my life and I can only thank Him for allowing me to go through it all because I learned many lessons and I gleaned most of all that I am a strong woman full of compassion. That time didn’t break me. It made me. And that is why I believe God allows us to go through hard times. To develop and strengthen our characters and for us to see what we are made of. For us to know that we are stronger,  smarter, and more resilient that we at first believed.

Pain is a perfect equalizer. It does not care about your station in life, or about your bank account. It does not care how many credentials you have. It is an equal opportunity teacher. Yes, I said that pain is a teacher. There is much that suffering and sorrow can train you for, if you will allow them to and do not allow self-defeating behavior like self-pity or bitterness to cloud your view to what suffering is trying to say. Because heartache has much speaking to do in your life if you will do what I do, and that is to embrace it instead of fighting against it. Don’t fight your suffering. Ask yourself and, more importantly, ask God what this particular situation has come to do for you. If you can get past the pain of suffering, you will find gems of wisdom and grace waiting to bless instead of curse. Of course, all suffering seems but a curse when we are experiencing it, but that is not true.

My suffering has made me wiser. It has made me more compassionate. It has taught me how to appreciate the beauty that is life and not to take anything for granted. Those things have made it all worth it. Because I would not have discovered them had I not been through the harrowing and hair-raising circumstances that I have been through. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would not have chosen to be homeless. I would not have picked for my husband to leave me after thirteen years of a grand love affair that would rival the greatest love stories ever told. I would not have signed up for the CFS that ravaged my body for four years, nor for the severe chronic pain that routinely kept me up screaming in torment. But you know what? I would not go back and alter any of those things because they made me the person I am today and that is a pretty fantastic person. And I wouldn’t be the kind of person that can take adversity and tribulation and use them to my advantage. Because I am able to help people who I never would have had the privilege of assisting if I had not had a message of hope.

Hope is what I have gotten the most of from my many years of sorrow and suffering. And hope is a commodity that is missing in this world. This age is filled with pessimistic people without hope, and to be without hope is to be without anything to live for. For it is through hope that we rise like a phoenix and fly another day.

If you have lost your hope, let me assure you that there IS hope. All you have to do is embrace what you are going through instead of complain about it or rail at the fates for bringing it into your life. Our hardships come for two reasons. One is because it is simply part of the pilgrimage of life. And the second reason is this: to make more of you than you ever thought or hoped you could be. So, instead of being angry at your circumstances, take a page out of my book and be grateful  instead. Believe me, if anyone has a reason to be bitter at the fates of life and a “right” to hold onto anguish and rage, it’s me. But that does not get you anywhere and I am of the mindset that I do not do things that waste my time or zap my energy or take away from my spirit. Anger and unforgiveness are two things that do just that. So, my very sage advice to you is to let go and let God.

Give the Lord God your pain. His shoulders are big enough to handle them and to hold onto you at the same time. He specializes in formulating victories where no victory is in sight. He is the God of the impossible. There is nothing He cannot and will not do for you, for He loves you immeasurably. As I’ve said before, I know what I am talking about. I have had a life of sheer hell and the Lord brought me through it all and all I can do is thank Him for it. If you give Him your hurts, you will be saying the same thing. Guaranteed.

Be encouraged

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

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Freedom!

I am full of joy at this moment. Why, you ask? Because I have been taking a trip down memory lane and I have discovered all of the various hardships and heartaches that I have endured and with the help of the Lord have gotten over and through them all. Yes, I said them all. I had not believed that I would be able to overcome even a few of the sufferings that I have had to live through, and here I am telling you that the Lord delivered me out of all of the hell. All of it.

I am stronger than I was when I was homeless. Oh, that was a stressful time for me! It was only by the grace of God that I did not stroke out or have a heart attack, I was under that much distress of soul and body. But I have overcome that period of life and I haven’t had to experience any more moments like those in over six years, thanks be to God. But as I stated, I am stronger. I am not the same woman that I was when I was on the streets of Montana with nowhere to go and no one would help me. Instead of feeling as though I am falling apart as I did back then, I feel like the Man of Steel.

I am no longer a victim of depression. I lived with that monster for many, many years and it held me with chains of despair and an ice-cold dread of the future that permeated the very atmosphere I breathed. My feelings were deadened, while at the same time I suffered such acute pain that I just wanted it all to be over. I prayed daily for death to take me and every day I awakened, I hated.

I am no longer a sufferer of CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), that horrible and debilitating illness that leaves you a prisoner within your own body and it makes you pay for every movement you make. I was bedridden 23 hours per day for eight months at one time during the four years I endured the illness.

I no longer wake up screaming from the years of severe chronic pain that ravaged my body. The only reason why I lived through it was because I was still breathing. That’s the only reason. Oh, so many times I thought the pain would kill me. And I prayed that it would. So much so that I was hospitalized twice because I did not feel that I could live one more second with the pain.

I no longer am a semi-frequent flyer to the city’s mental ward. I have been a patient of institutions in Minnesota, Montana, and Iowa for a total of six times in the past nine years. My mind was shattered into a million pieces and the world was a scary place in which to live.

I am no longer a slave to the cigarettes that held me bound for seven years. I had thought that I would be unable to be delivered from those nasty things and that they would eventually kill me.

I could go on and on. But instead, I will just celebrate the victories from the things that I have just been waxing philosophically about.

Let’s start with the homelessness. My precious oldest sister took me into her home and I have lived with her for six years. I have my own room (it’s big,lol), a 50 inch TV in it and I spend many wonderful hours studying the word of God and spending time with Him there.

The Lord delivered me from depression nine years ago. I had a vision from the Lord then. It was so clear. In the vision, there was a big black pit of depression that I had kept falling into. A hand came down from heaven and rolled a big stone over the pit and covered it. It fit perfectly. A voice said to me, “You will never fall into that pit again.” And I never have. And I never had to take another pill for depression, either. I was set free.

God healed me of the CFS in 2012. You can read the miraculous account here. I have not had to deal with the ravages of that disease since then, praise the Lord!

The Lord took the severe chronic pain out of my body seven years ago. He simply took it. One minute I was writhing in pain, and the next I was free. Hallelujah.

The Lord Jesus healed my mind. He put all of the pieces back together and I have lived a life free of mental pain and anguish for over three years now. The inner turmoil is gone.

In two days, it will have been three years since I have smoked a cigarette. The Lord broke the chain of addiction and I haven’t had a craving of any kind for three years. And you wonder why I love Jesus. Who wouldn’t, after all of that deliverance!

If you are suffering with any kind of pain or circumstance that you would like to experience freedom from, I encourage you to contact me and I will personally pray for you. The Lord hears my prayers. He wants you to be free and so do I. You CAN be completely and awesomely free. As in delivered. From EVERY affliction that you have. The Lord promised in His word that He would deliver you from every single one and it is impossible for Him to lie. (“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19)

As the song says, “Put your hand in the Hands of the Man Who stilled the waters.” Let Him still YOUR waters. He’s ready to do it right now.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

You Can Have Peace

When I think about what I have been through in life and how I am now in a place of peace, I cannot do anything but shake my head in wonder and utter joy.

I used to be so unhappy. Unhappy wasn’t even the word. Totally miserable would be more like it. I would sit in my room, praying for a change in my life and wondering if I was ever going to get one. I would be so lonely and feel like I was the only person on the planet.

I thought about all that I was missing out on and everything that I had lost and my eyes cried many tears as a result of those musings. I was depressed and in a state of great despair. I wondered if God even existed at times, though I knew He did. I was just angry at Him during those periods of my life and I blamed Him for everything except the good things that He had been doing in my life. Because I couldn’t see those good things. I did not see the blessings that were right in front of me. A house to live in. A husband.  A car to drive. Health. A job.  A life without physical pain. Being able to take care of my own physical needs. I didn’t see any of those things until I lost them all. They all fell down around me like dominoes. One minute I was walking around and the next I was bedridden and screaming because of the pain ravaging through my body like a runaway freight train.

My health was the first thing to go. Then the job was lost because I couldn’t work as a result of the severe chronic pain. Then my home was taken. Then my beloved husband left me because he could not take my physical and mental pain. After that, I had to walk away from my car at a truck stop and get on a bus. Then I was hit with CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome.) and I was bedridden for 23 hours per day for eight months.

I learned a lot while I was imprisoned within my body and pinned to that bed those months. I endured boredom that made me think I was losing my mind. I had nothing for company except a Netbook computer and the Internet. I would go to depression support groups and give my support to as many people as I could reach in my deteriorating state. For I had learned that when you are suffering great losses, the best anecdote for it is to help others. I lay on my side and typed encouraging messages to people who were in extreme states of depression and suicidal. I got down into their black pits of despair and I held their hands in my heart, for I knew exactly where they were living.

As I helped others, I found that it helped me more. I discovered that there were people who were going through rougher things than I and that humbled me and made me more determined to get out of my own pit. I began watching Navy Seal training videos and programs of that nature and mentally took myself through what the Seals were going through and the more I did that, the stronger I become emotionally. I couldn’t do anything about my illness, but I did not have to let it take over my life the way that it had. I could still have a good quality of life even though I could barely move myself.

I read my bible and received strength. I unearthed the peace that passes understanding, as the word says. It did not make sense to be experiencing joy in the midst of great turmoil, but that was my reality. I found that the bible was more than just nice-sounding words on a page. Those words were true because they were working in a life that was ravaged by grief and pain and I was receiving peace and joy. God sneaked up on me, as I am fond of saying.

If you are going through a period of sadness or grief, if you are enduring losses and you don’t know what to do, if you are experiencing depression and/or suicidal thoughts, let me encourage you. You CAN and WILL get through your trials if you follow my formula. First, take the focus off of your problems and put it onto others. Help out a neighbor, volunteer at a food bank, read a book to an elderly resident in a nursing home, volunteer to do some extra work on your job…anything that will help others. The bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive and that is true.

Next, do some things that will strengthen your mind. You don’t have to do the Navy Seals training, but it is a great mental challenge and workout.

Third, and most importantly, ask God to help you, pull out a bible, and begin to read. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I know what I am talking about because I lived in a black pit and was suicidal, I’ve lived with severe pain for five years, CFS for four years, was homeless on the streets of Montana for two years, and endured many years of physical and mental abuse and depression, and here I sit…at complete peace. No inner turmoil. Just quiet inside my head and joy in my heart. How would you like to trade some of your own heartache for some of that?

If you have read this far, it means that you are stronger than you realize and have more going for you than you think. You can make changes in your life, starting with small ones, and come out on top of life instead of life being on top of you. You can do it!

You were born a champion. If you have not discovered that yet, get ready because you are about to. You did not just happen onto this web page. You were sent here. We were destined to meet. I will be here every day to encourage you and you will receive that encouragement and take one step at a time and that will take you to victory. You will discover your own roar.

Believe in yourself. Believe in God. He believes in you. And so do I.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Thoughts For the Day

Today has been one of productivity for me, for which I am thankful. I want always to be moving ahead in my life and not become stagnant or unfruitful.

I think back on my life of homelessness and those thoughts are both painful and strengthening at the same time. I am remembering when I walked the streets, searching for help from any quarter, and finding none. Not even the church I went to would offer me any assistance, though the people at the service worshipped the Lord with a zeal that I found attractive. Until I found that that zeal only extended to arms raised but did not include putting those arms around a sick woman who had nothing. (For I was sick with CFS and that illness made my life as a homeless person much more difficult to bear.) To my astonishment, I discovered that there were people in the world who only love the Lord with a shallowness that boggled the mind and saddened the heart. My spirit was crushed and I talked to God in my heart and gave Him my pain and He lifted it. If only for a moment. For after a moment, my situation was back in my face with a vengeance and I cried out with fear and a desperation for someone, anyone to provide me with some type of aid.

But my pain is not the focus of my thoughts today. That belongs to the fact that although I was on the streets for two years, that did not crush my spirit. Although the forces of life did their best to pull me down into the pit of despair. I will admit that there were moments when I allowed the fear to cloud my faith and I shuddered like a startled baby. But those times did not last because my spirit of perseverance and the fortitude that I had grown up with in a totally dysfunctional and violent home came to bear and I used those resources to keep going. Ever going. And I use them today as I attempt to get over my mother’s death without becoming drowned. And I am succeeding. It is a bit surprising to me as I had thought that I would never be able to get over her passing, especially in the first days of her death. I can celebrate her life without sadness now. I know that she would be proud of me.

Today is a productive day. I am proud of myself. You rock, Cassie! You rock!

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Homelessness

See me. See me as I sit here at my desk, searching for words to say that will draw you into my life. For I am so full of feeling that the language inside me won’t come. It just stands like sentinels guarding castle walls, only these are the walls of my heart.

This reminds me of the days of my childhood, when it was  unsafe to speak. I can hear the voice of my father now, vitriol spewing out of his mouth as he screamed at us children. I remember being silenced by fear, but now I am able to express my thoughts and feelings without the threatening and railing of a person who is no longer here to shut me up. So, let me show you me.

Who am I, you ask? I am a woman who has endured great suffering at the hands of life and others. That suffering has made me the incredible woman that I am.

It does not matter that my words are jammed up inside me and will not come. I will still write about who I am and through those words, my life will open up as a flower that unfolds in the spring. So, see me.

See me on the streets of Montana as I lived there, homeless. My husband of thirteen years, who had been the love of my life, left me as we dealt with the loss of our home and our jobs and my health. He had seen me through hell and back, but was finally broken and ran out of our life as fast as his feet could take him. I do not blame him, for I would have escaped me if I could, but, alas, I was stuck with me. Stuck with severe depression and anxiety and the beginnings of schizoaffective disorder due to the torment of living on the streets. I was terrified and suffered major panic attacks on a daily basis.

It’s amazing that my husband hung around for as long as he did. There is a part of me, however, that wants to call him a son of a bitch for walking out on me when I needed him the most. I wonder how my life would be if he had only stayed for even a short while longer. Long enough for me to get on my feet. But the man left me alone in a motel room without a dime to my name and only a few pills on the nightstand. I was sick and suffering with severe chronic pain and the beginning stages of CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome, although that definition does nothing to describe the hell of such a condition). I was also dealing with hemorrhaging. So, as you see me, you see the mess that I was, left alone by the one who told me I would never be alone again. I crawled around the floor of that motel room because I did not have the strength to stand and I cleaned it up on my hands and knees and then I left that room and entered a phase of my life that was the most painful of my life. For my husband left me, my father died less than two weeks after that, and I went to stay with my oldest brother, who put me through hell in the short four months I lived with him. I ended up back on the streets of Kalispell, Montana in a homeless shelter.

See me as I hobble along the streets of Montana because of my sickness, struggling to get to the library because it was the only place I had to go, apart from a mom and pop store and diner. I spent my days at that library, alone and afraid, searching on my old laptop for help of any kind. No one would reach out a hand to offer me assistance. People looked past me on the street. And my family was nowhere to be found. I lived this existence for two years. Only the Lord was with me, and there were plenty of times when I felt that even He had deserted me. But He had not. Instead, He gave me strength. It takes strength to survive the homeless life and I have not only survived it, I ended up thriving in the end. When I walked away from Montana and got on a bus for Illinois, I had to get rid of all of my earthly possessions for the third time except for what I could take on the bus. That took strength. Even now, I only have a few possessions. I have learned that life is more than what we have. It consists of more than people in our lives. I lived on the streets with no money, no help, no health…nothing. All I had was my faith in God. And that was all that I needed. I can say with certainty that if your trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot fail. It is absolutely impossible for you to lose when you have God as the source or your life. All of the suffering I experienced as a homeless person (and there was much) was nothing in the end compared to the grace of God. God is real and His love is all-encompassing and He is with you through all that you have to go through. I am a living witness to that fact.

See my triumph as I conquered homelessness. If you are homeless, I encourage you. I pray for you. And I want you to know that there is a way off of those streets. Don’t give up hope. That is one of the things that I had to fight when I was homeless. Hopelessness. But the Lord gave me hope. And I discovered that there was more to me than I had believed. I am strong, in the Lord and in my spirit. So, see. me. That strength can be yours, too. As you travel along with me on the journey of my life, you will pick up skills and encouragement. For I am more than those things that I have suffered. Much more. They only made me who I am. They did not define me. Nor does your suffering define you. My secret? I embrace my suffering. Oh, I cry and sometimes I yell. However, I embrace my suffering, for with it comes great strength and purpose. Keep reading my blog and you will see that purpose.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord.