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January 17, 2022

46

by on January 17, 2022. Filed under Thoughts

 

Last month the men’s monthly breakfast and study completed the book, Undefiled. Throughout the book the author used examples from a fictitious couple named Jim and Carrie. The book’s subtitle is “Redemption from Sexual Sin, Restoration for Broken Relationships” Honestly it wasn’t my type of book. But I admit now that there was a lot to learn from it, things that I hadn’t thought about before. During that last men’s meeting I felt there was something important to share with the men. Here it is:


46.

I was diagnosed with aggressive cancer when I was 46 years old.  By then I had been born again for about 20 years and I was totally committed to God, praying that God would do whatever it takes to make me into the image of His Son. — but I didn’t yet realize just how arrogant I still was or how that issue was affecting my family. I was completely blind to it all.

Afterwards, when I survived the cancer and treatment, whenever a stranger asked me about being a cancer survivor I would invariably quote Psalm 119:71, “It was good that I was afflicted so that I might learn Thy righteous decrees.”  That severe trial was necessary for me just to begin to change, to open my eyes so that I could see the extent of my sin.

Whether trials are physical (like mine) or relational (like Jim & Carrie’s as in the book) trials are meant for our good, to open our eyes, to cleanse us — if we are willing to listen to God and be changed.

It is Satan’s work; it is sin’s work that we are blind to the root of our own sin.

Sin deceives us.

We see only surface things; God looks at the heart.

We’re not going to “fix it” ourselves. We can’t — apart from God’s supernatural intervention and grace.

Not everyone goes through traumatic illness but everyone needs God’s wisdom and power to open their eyes to the sin “which doth so easily beset us” That’s from Hebrews 12.  (verse 1)   Hebrews 12 is all about the chastisement of the Lord every believer experiences –

“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (10 & 11)

My oncology doctors said that I might have died that year.  Quote: “If left untreated this type of cancer can take the life of it’s victim in 6 months to a year.”  — I was in intense pain for 6 months before I was diagnosed and treated for the aggressive cancer.

But more to my point is that my wife and family suffered not for 6 months but for decades while my arrogance was as of yet “untreated”.

As my doctors were blind to the cancer within my bones I was blind to how my sin of arrogance was hurting my family.

Jim and Carrie needed God to heal their broken relationship. From the book:

Jim started. “I understand now that there is a penalty for arrogantly ignoring God’s law.

Then Carrie said “Not only do I see a change in Jim, but I see more of the darkness in my own heart. I just didn’t see the hardness of my own heart. How could I have been so blind?

We are generally blind to our own sins and the root causes of our sin.

We must pray, “God, show me how I’m blind. Do whatever it takes to bring about Your righteousness in my life for the sake of my wife and children. Heal me and the relationships in my life. Make me whole.

Lead me in the path of righteousness for Your name’s sake.”

I grieve when I think how my sin caused others so much pain. I can’t change how unkind I was to my parents since they both passed away. But I can repent, change my way, learn to put myself aside and truly, unselfishly love my wife as I promised her on our wedding day.

My hope for each of you is that you would love your wife: From the Word:

Bear with me: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

It’s our pride that hinders this kind of love. Don’t forget that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: (from Hebrews 12)

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you…”    “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

It’s a matter of our will: “for those who have been trained by it.”  That is, not everyone is trained by it. We must allow trials to open our eyes and produce that harvest of righteousness and peace.  

So much pain in this world is a result of the original sin: pride.

I’m not boasting. I’m still often proud and arrogant. I can still be unkind and not be aware of it. Pride keeps me blind. Humility enables me to see — eventually — after the fact — most of the time. Praise God!

I can go to my wife or others I’ve offended by my arrogance, and humbly confess my sin.

Georgia and I have grown closer than ever before.  

Pride blinded me to my sin and the pain it caused so many others. 
                Humility heals.
I will boast in God Who has brought about unity in our marriage.

I’m learning to love Georgia as God defined and demonstrated it.

I’m learning to value her for the gift she really is.

And I’m learning to bless her with the emotional support that every wife needs from her husband.

January 5, 2022

The Character of Pain

by on January 5, 2022. Filed under Thoughts

 

I’ve been in nearly constant pain for the last 21 years. Exceptions include sleeping, twilight anesthesia (surgery) when I’m not conscious of pain, and the “2 Seconds Without Pain” that used to allow a few moments of “old-normal” pain-free feeling. Those “2 seconds” no longer occur.

The quality or characteristic of pain has slowly changed over the last few years. I would say that I have overall less pain than a decade ago. But there’s still constant pain that often reaches 7/10, even 8/10 by evening depending on the day’s activities.

I /think/ the change of my pain characteristics may be due to weekly infusions of SCIG (subcutaneous immunoglobulin) therapy. The theory is that the small fiber nerves damaged by chemotherapy have healed somewhat. This is what has been suggested to me.

Here are some examples of pain then and now:

!0 years ago I wouldn’t walk more than 10 feet before needing to get off my feet due to pain. Maybe I could force myself to walk up to 20 or 30 feet but I’d pay a lot for that effort.

Now I can force myself to walk 50 or 100 feet before requiring to get off my feet. This is a surprising and pleasing change. I don’t do that effort very often but it has been done when expedient.

Better pain management, SCIG therapy, and years post-chemo-assault are the only reasons that I can think of for why my pain has changed. AFAIK there have not been additional assaults to my nerves.

So I’m still in pain throughout the day ranging from a low of 3/10 in the early morning, to 5/10 to 7/10 from late morning to afternoon, and 6/10 to occasionally 8/10 from late morning to evening. But I can handle it. It’s a different kind of pain.

That’s the thing that I can’t easily describe — how pain has changed.

For example my “Lighting bolts of pain” still occur but I’m so very used to them that nearly as soon as one occurs it’s gone. My wife perceives my “lightning bolts” as what a newborn will sometimes exhibit for no apparent reason, a whole-body sudden jerk, hands outstretched.

The lightning bolt hasn’t really changed. It’s my reaction to it that has changed.

The knife jabs (like a knife pushed through the top of my toe) is probably the worse pain I feel. But the good news is that they only last less than a second. My reaction to it starts and finishes after the pain subsides. So I jump — but right away go about whatever I was doing. No problem!

The second worse pain is also the most common pain I feel. That pain feels like the bottom of my foot was hit really hard by a rubber hammer. In case you don’t know the head of a good rubber hammer is actually pretty hard, and it’s heavy. So a hit would bruise any part of your body that it hits.

If I were to stay in bed all day then I wouldn’t have the “rubber hammer hit” pain. In fact just standing on my feet for more than a few seconds will start the hits. Before covid, when I attended church I always took my electric wheelchair. I could, in fact, from the handicap parking walk into the sanctuary, sit in the back, very few steps. But the problem is that people would want to greet and talk with you. They have no trouble standing on their feet for hours, whatever, but my feet begin to hurt badly in a few seconds. So it was better to take my wheelchair. When someone wanted to greet or talk with me, I would be sitting.

Standing, walking, anytime I am upright on my feet, they hurt more and more. Lightning pain and knife jab pain subsides immediately. But “rubber hammer hit” pain is cumulative. By the end of the day the pain is horrible, 7/10 easily, and often 8/10,

I try to do as much as I can staying off my feet but that’s difficult. Every day is a challenge to manage my pain by counting the time on my feet. I try to plan out every step but most often there are more steps required than planned. By the end of the day, when one of my last tasks is to brush my teeth. By that time it’s so difficult to get on my feet again to brush.

On a standard pain scale, 7-8 is considered severe, and that it “Interferes with basic needs”.

For me, my way of thinking, the “pain faces” don’t mean anything. But the text that appears below the scale I can process. I guess that’s partly why I never say 9/10 or 10/10 — “urgent care” isn’t required. But 7/10 and 8/10 “Interferes with basic needs” applies almost every evening.

Ed

September 16, 2021

Time Is Short

by on September 16, 2021. Filed under Thoughts

 

During time of prayer and fellowship with God there was this nearly constant impression that “time is short”. When God speaks His words are few.

  • “Light, be.”
  • “Fear not.”
  • “I am.”

God’s Word has frustrated me. Before I was born again this made me angry. I’ve learned to continue to pray and then to wait. The problem is never God’s Word. Rather the problem is that I need to grow before I can understand.

For a while the thought that “time is short” only brought forth “end of days” meanings such as:

  • Third World War,
  • American democracy / this country will fall,
  • I will pass on soon from this world,
  • Jesus returns, …

It never occurred to me that there is a more positive understanding. Of course Jesus returning is positive. But there’s more to it.

While I was praising and worshiping God and this came to me:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 5:15-20)

From The Spectrum:

Make the most of every opportunity literally means “redeem the time.” We are all given an equal amount of time each day. How we use it determines its value. When we redeem the time for Christ, we place the utmost value upon it. Every minute we use to share our faith in Christ is of priceless, eternal value.

After meditating on Ephesians 5 the meaning finally came to me:

“Time is short” leads me to understand that there’s still time.

This is obvious. So long as I’m still alive I live in the time God allowed for me. That is, I’m not yet in God’s eternal home. So I can’t give up or give in no matter what the conflict, no matter the pain, no matter what.

If we have 1 more minute then so be it. Time always has been short; every minute counts.

The end result is that I’ve been reinvigorated to use time, making the most of every minute, redeeming the time. So in spite of pain, in spite of breathing difficulties, fatigue, and weakness, I won’t let time, or the lack of it to be an enemy anymore. Each minute is a blessing for each of us.

We can use that minute of blessing to praise God, to bless others, to be kind, generous, and loving towards one another. There’s so much we can do in the next minute. There’s still time.

Love In Christ,
Ed

September 13, 2015

Winter Weather Whine

by on September 13, 2015. Filed under Thoughts

 

PerfectWeather

Since my disability I have been surprised every year by the pain associated with the arrival of cooler weather. Here I am, relatively enjoying the warmth of Summer, when the cooler weather of Fall (once my favorite season) brings me so much pain as to nearly restrict me in bed. Maybe “restrict” isn’t right. I just don’t want to get out of my warm bed.

It isn’t laziness. I’m not lazy. It’s pain. What everyone else experiences as “great weather”, anything cooler than hot, is painful to me. It seems so unfair. It’s a great week for a week-long hike or camping trip, two of my previously favorite activities.

But I won’t give up. I’ve been wearing hoodies all summer even in 90+ degree heat. Now I’ll be breaking out my winter coats just to survive Fall.

That’s enough whining. I won’t let pain stop me from living. So I’d better get moving. (Writing this post is a delay from getting out of bed.)

The guiding factor or strength for me isn’t simply anything of this world. It’s God. God alone is able to bring me to do the right thing when it is so difficult to do it. There are lots of motivating factors, my wife, children, grandchildren, but it is only God Who motivates and inspires me enough to choose pain over comfort in order to bless others. It’s because of His Son, Jesus, and what He did: choosing pain over comfort in obedience to His Father. It was that obedience that brought about my salvation-and that is everything!

As I finish this post I’m thinking about and planning what I need to do to survive 70 degree weather this week. Remember that a “high of 75 degrees” happens sometime after noon. Before that time is it much cooler. The temperature right now (11:30 a.m.) is 66 degrees. To me, that may as well be freezing!

So I’ll bundle up, put hand warmers in my boots, and brave this “freezing” weather so I can  “live and move and have our being” in Him, for I am “God’s offspring”. (Acts 17:28-29) I’m no longer on this earth to please myself but to please God Who saved me. Praise Him forever!

Time to get up.

June 26, 2014

getting dressed

by on June 26, 2014. Filed under Thoughts

 

Sometimes just getting dressed is difficult, a big deal.

I know it is even far more difficult for others. I think of Joni Erickson Tada. I shouldn’t complain…

http://www.joniandfriends.org/

joni

January 14, 2014

How do I do it?

by on January 14, 2014. Filed under Thoughts

 

How do I do it?  How can I function with all the pain I have?  How do I get up, go out, do this and that, live life when constant and sometimes severe pain infiltrate almost every part of my body?

It seems that God made me this way for His purpose. Because I really don’t know how I do it.

This morning, so far, is the best morning I’ve had in a very long time.  I’m feeling selfish–which I don’t like.  I want to enjoy this very low pain morning for as long as I can.  I feel like I need this break.  I get worried about my heart.  How long will it be able to handle the stress of constant pain.

My pain does have one up-side.  It keeps me close to God.  I’ve no where else to turn because no one really can understand the pain and stress that I feel.  My wife is great and gives me love, compassion, and she helps me in every way. But even she can’t fully understand.  That’s okay because if she did understand that would mean that she feels the same pain and I wouldn’t want that for anyone.

There are other people in this world who have pain. There was a man in California that I used to email once in a while. He took lots of nasty pain killers and was still in pain. He realized that the pain killers were hurting him so he was weaning off them last I heard from him. He would feel sorry for me and I would feel sorry for him. I think he was worse off than I. Who knows?

Writing a “poor me” journal entry seems so selfish, so narcissistic.  I’d rather write about how God sustains me. That’s the answer to the question: How do I do it?

How do I do it?  God sustains me!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”  (Psalm 121)

November 29, 2011

Finishing Well

by on November 29, 2011. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal, joni

 

Today’s devotional explains something that, over the years, I’ve learned about my own Christian journey. It explains part of the reason why I (usually) don’t get discouraged during those “dry” times in my life. I used to get very discouraged during those times early in my Christian journey. But I’ve learned that even in those times, especially during those times, I learn new things about God, myself, and the people and world around me.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Yes.  Even in the driest of times, even in the most stressful, tense, painful, horrific of times, even when I’m being poured out like a drink offering, yes, even in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with me; I will fear no evil.  Have faith in God, my friends. And praise Him forever!

Please read the attached devotional.   Joni so often says things so well.

Love In Christ,
Ed

June 15, 2010

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me?

by on June 15, 2010. Filed under Christian life / church, Personal

 

People shouldn’t think that I’m always strong. I know how to rise to the occasion. By the grace of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I get up and do what needs to be done. Just going into the kitchen and sitting on a chair with a small blanket over my knees and my feet up on another chair-that’s hard work for me. (It’s worth doing because I can be with my family during meal time.) But that’s not being strong. Here’s why:

We are taught and reinforced to put on a good face. “Smile!” That’s what we hear before the camera flash no matter what kind of mood we’re really in. Hardly without exception we smile.

There is a difference between “being” and “doing”. We’re trained and we force ourselves to “do strong” things. Some of us wake up at 4:30 in the morning, commute several hours to work, work 10 hours, another two-hour commute to get home, and barely have time for dinner before bedtime just to start the whole process over again. Even if it’s not to that extreme most of us know how to “do” strong things.

To give a personal example, no matter how high my pain level is, I was taught to be “polite.” So if I’m miserable with pain, feeling grumpy, maybe I had an argument with a family member, and you come up to me and ask, “how are you doing?”, I might answer by saying, “fine!” I don’t think that lying like that is really polite.

But the real deal that I want to talk about is to “be strong.” That involves something more than the learned external performance which is, in comparison, easy to do. To be strong is a matter of one’s character and one’s relationship to God. It is developed over one’s lifetime. It is very personal as opposed to what we do externally.

Most of the time, I think, by the grace of God, I am pretty strong. God granted me strong faith, given me much grace, and taught me to depend on him. As a result I am able to be thankful, worship God, and encourage others in their faith. All this is an awesome privilege.

There are those times when I’m feeling particularly weak. I can say with Paul, “to be in heaven is better by far.” I won’t go as far as Job who said, “may the day of my birth perish.” But really it’s the same thing. It’s admitting that I don’t want to be around in this world any longer. And that’s completely selfish, lacking in strength. It’s a pity party.

I don’t get envious of people when they get to do good things. But I am desirous of the good things that they get to do. Maybe that’s a kind of envy.

When I hear about somebody who went on a hike in the mountains I long for that joy. When I hear somebody playing guitar as I used to I can become very melancholy missing that joy. When I realize I failed to be a good dad because of my physical constraints and pain I grieve not only for my children but for myself. I have a pity party.

Pity parties occur when I am weak. It does, eventually, caused me to turn to God for my strength. My life is redeemed from the pit. (Maybe pity parties are what you do when you are in a pit. haha) He crowns me with love and compassion. (Psalm 103:4) “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

I’m not strong. But God is awesome. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trust in him, and I am helped.” (Psalm 28:7)

My comfort is that when I’m feeling weak I can call upon God who is always strong. Thankfully my pity parties do not last very long. The Lord is my strength. Please pray for me. We all need to pray for one another!

Alive in Christ,
Ed

May 3, 2010

2 Seconds Without Pain

by on May 3, 2010. Filed under Personal, health / disability / pain

 

I am in constant pain–but I need to qualify that a little. I sleep to escape pain and to “reset” when I am having a high level of pain. So usually there is only pain or sleep with one minor but notable exception.

It seems odd to me every time this happens. Sometimes once or twice a week I will experience about 2 wonderful seconds without pain. It reminds me what it is like to not have pain. It is otherwise difficult to remember what it feels like to be without pain.

On occasion I will wake up, usually after having a vivid dream, and feel no pain. Zero. For the last 10 years it is the only time I feel zero pain anymore. But it only lasts a couple of seconds. I barely have time to enjoy it before the pain returns.

When the pain returns the sensation that I have is as if pain itself is poured into my veins as it spreads down my legs and arms into my feet and hands. It is a very odd feeling being followed by the usual, constant pain that I feel.

I’m glad that it happens. Even if just for 2 seconds I delight in the pleasant feeling of having no pain. It is also a reminder to me and thus a hope for a solution. If I can be conscious yet without pain perhaps there is medical solution that hasn’t been discovered yet. It is also a reminder and thus a hope for that day when there will be no sorrow and no more pain.

“And I will rise when He calls my name; No more sorrow, no more pain…” (from the song “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin, one of my favorites)

Something that I’ve come to realize as a byproduct of these events is the “wall” or limitation of the pain I feel.

It is difficult to describe some things when there is no clear point of reference. So be patient with me and my words.

Can you imagine a system of hoses that are connected together with a funnel at the top? There is also a way for the air to escape so that one can pour water into the funnel and it will fill the hoses. When water is poured into the funnel it flows freely and quickly into the hoses. But when it reaches the end, when all the hoses are filled, the water no longer freely flows into the hoses.  It is restricted by the capacity of the hoses.

After my 2 seconds without pain when pain is poured back into my limbs it flows freely and quickly to all parts, in fact, to my entire body, not just my hands and feet. But as the pain finally reaches my hands and feet the flow stops, everything is filled. If it kept pouring in I fear the pain would be unbearable.

I suspect, as I am only able to do, that the medications that I take, Lyrica (like Neurotin) and Trileptal, which each are presumed to block different neural pathways, are the limiting “gatekeepers” which prevent the pain from entering any more than it does.

My explanation is poor, I think. What I feel is known to me but somehow I can’t explain it clearly. Please forgive me. My hope is that if someone else experiences something like this that they will know they aren’t the only one who feels it. They have a companion.

I take great comfort and refuge that Jesus knows exactly what I am feeling and He has compassion for me. He has given me faith and strength to endure. He is my Redeemer and Savior. I will praise Him forever.

January 12, 2010

Life Outside My Bubble

by on January 12, 2010. Filed under Thoughts

 

It is difficult to communicate some things. Georgia understands. She understands at a depth like no other person. She understands this: I’m wearing out in ways other than my physical body.

As you get older your memory begins to fail. This is happening to both of us. Sometimes it is funny to us but I think most of the time it is frustrating to us. My capability to organize my thoughts and even to pull out the correct words from my brain may be related to short-term memory, or to the meds that I take (which affect neural pathways), but there are other things happening to me in addition to these afflictions.

Probably due to the constant onslaught of pain signals to my brain it seems to me that my brain’s “bandwidth” is far more narrow than is common for most people. I can almost feel what it is like to be autistic or with other social disorders. I can’t seem to process information input as fast as I once was could. I overload. I get stressed. I shut down.

It has become a fearful challenge for me to attend any large gathering especially if anything is expected of me. I do it anyway in order to be part of life–specifically to be a part of family, sharing my life with my wife hopefully to be a blessing to her and to my children. I go to church and can act normally but what is really going on is an increasing overload. I have missed large parts of every message for months now because this overload, stress, and pain. The overload causes me to really shut down, to go to sleep, right in the middle of our church service.

Even in small gatherings there is a significant “acting” that happens. You could call it “rising to the occasion”. I force myself to be a part of what is happening. It is like running to get the newspaper on a cold, wintery day in bare feet. You can force yourself to do it but only for a precise, limited time–just enough to get to the sidewalk and back. That’s it; that’s all you can handle. In the same way I do whatever is expected of me. I go to my doctor and then go home to crash. I play with my grandchild, something I love to do, but then I’m spent. Nothing left except to sleep. Sleep–that’s how I reset for the next thing.

My entire life outside my cocoon is like what I have described. Unless I’m in my 80 degree Fahrenheit room, feet elevated and wrapped in blankets, I’m stressed. Even our morning family Bible study, which I love, is difficult. I’m outside my “bubble” of comfort. We try to make it suitable outside my room, feet elevated, “shields up” (I wear a thermal hat or hoodie), a blanket wrapped around my feet and legs, and one of those parabolic heaters aimed at me. It is still stressful. I take a nap after Bible study.

My reluctance to pain affects my personal life in other ways. It is difficult for me to brush my teeth so I neglect to do it as often as I should. There are numerous other ways that I don’t take good care of myself. This, sadly, causes my wife to become stressed. She wants to take care of me but I “don’t want to put her out”. She wants me to take care of myself but I don’t want to put myself into a world of pain. So many things that should happen don’t happen.

I don’t see any solution in my future except the complete healing that I will have when I’m in Heaven. Until then I will function at the best level that I can. Every morning I will force myself to be a part of this world of pain that I must endure in order to be a part of this life of love that surrounds me. God is good.

Thanks for listening. Time for a nap.
In Christ,
Ed

All journal entries are copyright by Ed Rodatus - all rights reserved.
(Except the entries in the "joni" category. All the "joni" posts are from the Joni and Friends daily email devotional.)

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