Our Suffering Is Not In Vain

Philippians 3:10 King James Version (KJV)

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;


I have lived in poor neighborhoods infested with crime in inner city Philadelphia among drugs, gangs, and violence. I have lived next door to a meth lab while rearing my four babies. I have also lived next door to a violent cocaine addict who beat his girlfriend. However, I have learned that the scariest place to dwell in is the broken, shattered, human body.

Nothing compares to the fear one feels when the body spins out of control and symptoms seem to play first fiddle in the symphony of every day life. Sometimes the simplest tasks like turning your head to roll out of bed become a dreaded nightmare because the room starts swaying and spinning with you stuck inside a broken brain. Even the easiest tasks become so scary because even if you are mentally fit, physically you are as weak as a newborn kitten, and those tasks become obstacles that seem insurmountable. The physical overrides the mental and you become captive inside the bars of this broken body, willing and trying to break out but stuck and trapped instead.

But, the reality of this is, it’s your own reality. No one else can enter into this prison because they are locked out. Here’s what I said to my friend one day regarding this:

“I think they’ve given up on me as many others have too. It’s hard when we know the reality of our condition but others disregard this reality and make our health a reality that they don’t believe. Therefore, it’s in their thinking not a reality at all but only in our minds. It feels like a nightmare sometimes…..”

Image by Todd Trapani on pexels

I’m well aware that these words feel weighty at the moment but I hope that others who struggle with the VERY real reality of living inside a broken body can relate and know they are not alone.

We are loved by the One who fearfully and wonderfully made us.

He is always with us in every challenge we face.

Nothing is impossible with Him.

Wonderful things await those who love Him.

One day we will be rid of our broken bodies and that means being in the presence of Jesus.

Never ever give up.

Never lose hope.

Jesus cares always and forever.

He gets it.

By His strength and grace we will be set free from these bodies and given new ones in glory.

As believers in Jesus his Spirit dwells inside of us and in our suffering we find true comfort in him. It’s because He suffered so much while here, we too gain deep fellowship with him that nothing but in our suffering can come even close. So really, our suffering is a gift. Simply put; it’s a unique way to have intimate communion with God. It’s hard, yes, but what it’s accomplishing in us is priceless because in our refining we are becoming more like Christ as we grow in faith.

Much love,

Viv 🙏❤

You Don’t Look Sick

Has this been said to you? Those of us chronically ill or injured have probably been given this all too common line, “You don’t look sick.” Or how about this one, “Well, you look good!”*

If we look sick, we are sick, if we don’t look sick we aren’t. Right? No!

Most people have five senses; taste, touch, see, smell, and hear. Now, we can mistakenly use our sense of sight to judge someone’s sense of touch.

An injured brain can not be seen. The brain is enclosed by the skull and a protective water layer called dura matter (both of which are damaged on me). Injured brains are felt.

Fatigue can not be seen, it’s felt.

We can’t judge a person’s sense of feeling based on our sense of sight.

This is why invisible illness is so misjudged ending up with the ill feeling very much alone.

I met a lady in my brain injury group whose teenage son suffered a severe traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and then run over by a second car which dragged his body underneath it before stopping. When she arrived at the hospital she told me he looked to her like an alien. His brain was actually visible and he was so beyond recognition, she could only identify him based on the fact that he bit his nails which was the only recogizable part of him. This is probably the worst case of TBI I have ever heard of, and by some miracle, her son survived his brain injury but with many many deficits.

Yet, this is not the norm. TBI is typically an invisible malady. It effects all of life in so many various aspects most of which go unseen to onlookers. TBI is felt. Chronic fatigue is felt. Autoimmune diseases are felt.

We want to be well. We don’t want to wake up every day wondering what we have to do to just barely get by. We don’t want to tell our best friend we can’t receive her visit because we are too weak. We hate missing church. We want to get up, feet hit the ground running and get everything done while having strength and energy to play with our kids and make chocolate cake for dessert.

Not all ilnesses are visible, rather, they are hidden inside the intricate workings of our very fragile bodies that can easily become disfunctional living in this fallen world. While we may not look sick, believe me when I say we are bravely fighting every day and never, ever giving up….. and are courageously smiling and enduring through the pain.

Much love,

Viv 😍

*This post was written a long time ago. I’m no longer frustrated over the way people respond to invisible illness, but I still feel this post holds a few valuable insights worth sharing with others. ~Viv

The Word On Monday: Armour Of God ðŸ”°

Good soldier, the evil day is any time believers are being tempted to sin by Satan or being tried in a hard affliction.

By God’s grace we are to resist Satan and he will flee from us but we can only “stand” in our battles if we are properly armed. There is a big invisible battle being waged and that is for our souls. Satan wants to catch us off guard, unarmed and vulnerable so He can cause us to stumble in sin or cause God’s children to bring dishonor unto God. Being the clever serpent he is, he can use the most strategic tactics possible piercing or disorienting us by swift fiery darts that deeply wound our souls.

Maybe your dart is like mine, a fiery dart of disability or chronic illness…..a “thorn” in the flesh. I am sure Satan attacks us when we are already down so as to easily get us. Whatever your fiery dart is, stand strong in the word of God fighting the fight of faith. We can shield our souls from those darts by faith in our Savior Jesus. Memorize scripture. Store up verses in your mind to protect your soul from fiery darts. Our minds are fickled, apt to think wrong thoughts not from God. We must train our minds like a soldier training for battle. Scripture, bible study, prayer, and meditation can equip our souls for battles seen and unseen. Subtle or sudden.

Corrie ten Boom says, “The enemy shoots his fiery arrows out of invisible, unexpected positions.”

Faith is our shield and the Lord is our shield too. Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped….” Also, Genesis 15:1, “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

We don’t know when the enemy will strike but if our shields are up, armour is on, and swords are ready we can stand strong fighting the biggest battle we ever will face; The battle of running the race and fighting the good fight of faith set before us and standing strong to the end.

Philippians 4:13, ” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Much love,

Viv 💚

The Word On Monday: Good Shepherd ðŸ

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John 10:11

This verse my daughter and I especially wanted to share today following Easter Sunday.

The empty tomb at Easter gives my soul so much joy to focus on how He faithfully carried out His mission of redemption for His people.

I feel so profoundly and completely humbled by the fact that Jesus gave HIS LIFE for me. Me. A sinner. Broken. Yet He loved me so much to die in my place so I can live.

The joyful remembrance of the empty tomb highlights the awesome power of God over death and the assurance of eternal life for those who love God.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Were you able to attend church, or see family? The Holy Spirit reminded me of the joyful hymn AN CAN IT BE when I woke up yesterday. I hadn’t sung it in years but remember singing it with my family as a child. The words, “amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me?” echoed in my mind as I watched the sun come up through the window!! I hope you have a moment to listen.

Love always,

Viv 🤗

My four, all spiffed up for church

The Accident That Took Home My Friend Herm.

On March 7, 2010, my friend, mentor, and neighbor of eight years, Hermione Joy Wommack, was killed by a drunk driver slamming into her SUV head-on at 80 miles per hour. Reports say his blood alcohol levels were 2x over the legal limit and he was driving without a license.

Let me take you back to that day.

On March 6, 2010, I gave birth to my youngest daughter and final baby. I telephoned Herm later that day to tell her the good news and see if she could come take a peek at my new bundle of joy at the hospital. I was greatly looking forward to her visit because she and I had both recently moved miles apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. She told me she could visit the next day since it was Sunday and a bit less hectic for her. I was due to return home Monday, so I assured her Sunday was perfect and couldn’t wait to see her again.

Herm, an Argentinean high school Spanish teacher, had always been a precious friend and neighbor to me. Going through difficult times in the early days of marriage and job loss was made easier by her wisdom, counsel, and prayers. There wasn’t much I didn’t tell Herm and her presence in my life was constant.

There would be times when I would open up my front door to find bags of gifts awaiting me that she cleverly sneaked there. Generosity was always nothing but second nature to Herm.

I vividly remember watching my oldest daughter, who was three at that time, putting on the gorgeous Sunday dress Herm had given her and walking next door to show it off to Herm before church. I can still see Herm’s smile as she knelt down to admire the dress, and my daughter trotting proudly back across the lawn towards me.

Sunday evening March 7, 2010 at around dinner time, Herm came into my hospital room, and immediately took my newest baby in her arms. It was so good to see her again. She and I caught up a bit and I promised her I would come visit her at her new farm they had just bought in the country. I grabbed my digital camera and asked for a picture. She said she looked awful since her grandkids had been with her all day and they’d been gardening together. I assured her she looked great as always and began snapping away.

Herm holding my youngest just moments before her death.

I’m so glad I did. Those were the last pictures ever taken of Herm, for only an hour later she was taken to heaven.

She was on the phone counseling another friend when the drunk driver, a man named Mark Elliot, slammed his vehicle into her Honda SUV.

Her husband later told me she had the presence of mind to tell the police officer his phone number and he arrived at the scene to be with her in her final moments.

The news of Herm’s death hit me very hard. One friend tried to comfort me by telling me that Herm could have been killed before she saw me and then I would have never seen her, visited, and gotten photos of her. For years I felt guilty for asking her to visit me and experienced severe grief and remorse. Knowing Herm, she would have told me to stop.

“STOP CHICA” is what she would have said. Herm never let me wallow!

Whenever I start missing her and feeling remorse, I’m reminded that God is still in control, even in this crazy out-of-control world. He was with Herm in her final moments comforting and ministering to her. He came to her that night with His hands outstretched towards her saying, “Come Home Child”. She was driving along Leesville road that night journeying towards her true Home in heaven.

She was never alone in death. Knowing Herm, she was praying hard as her body breathed it’s last and God answered by giving her peace and everlasting happiness in heaven with Jesus her Lord.

1 Corinthians 2:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

This verse gives me comfort knowing that right now Herm is experiencing delights unimaginable in heaven that await those who love Him.

Several years before her death, Herm shared this scripture verse with me from 2 Samuel 15:26. ‘But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.’ I’ve highlighted that verse in my bible with her name marked beside it. It encourages me to surrender to God’s will for my life and to hand over everything to Him saying, ‘here I am’. Whatever seems good to God is what’s best for me. It may not always look like it at the time but I’m trusting, as my Herm did, that He always knows what’s best. Always.

So many have been killed or severely disabled by drunk drivers. Although my brain injury is not from drunk driving, I’m still heartbroken when I find other TBI survivors (there are many) robbed of their happy lives by the carelessness and selfishness of others. It needs to STOP.

In honor of my friend Herm, please share this post with others.

Herm and my two oldest making Christmas cookies together Christmas 2008.

The article that explains the accident and sentencing of Mark Elliot.

http://www.newsadvance.com/go_dan_river/news/man-pleads-guilty-in-wreck-that-killed-campbell-county-teacher/article_818e9b0a-2f8d-5be4-9dde-d98c7886015e.html

His whisper to my heart…

If you ever feel worthless then remember this truth; You were worth dying for.

Much love,

Viv🤗

Romans 5:8 (KJV)

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Everyone’s Broken

Last spring when things got hard with my TBI journey, I was crying to my best friend saying, “I feel so broken!” Her response to me was, “Everyone’s broken.”

It’s amazing how God can use the honest words of a friend to wake us up.

Yet, it was not the response I was hoping for just then. I yearned for words of comfort, instead I felt like my brain injury was being undermined. Of course she didn’t mean to hurt me, it was my emotional state of brokenness at that time.

Then God did something in my thought process and heart that only He can do. He showed me that even though what she said to me came at a difficult time in my life, those two words are 100% true and I needed to hear them.

The problem with chronic pain, illness, or severe bodily injuries is that they can make a person extremely self absorbed. It’s impossible to not be so fully caught up in the pain and suffering that scream for our attention 24/7. We can’t help but forget that others we love have issues of brokenness in their lives and are just as broken. They may not be broken physically, yet in some way they’re broken emotionally or spiritually. Everyone’s broken.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she writes on how Jesus was broken first, so that we can be healed by His brokenness. She writes, ‘Could all brokenness meet in the mystery of Christ’s brokenness and givenness and become a miracle of abundance?’ I’ve often dwelled upon these beautiful words. Everyone’s broken, yet Jesus meets us in our pain and since He overcame all brokenness we are made whole by His broken body on the cross.

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful friend and sister in Christ who understands the big picture here. Her words have stayed with me and kept me from throwing myself a huge pity party or turning into “Debbie Downer” on tougher days of dizziness, nausea, pain, fatigue etc. and staying there. I still struggle with negative thinking, but those two words keep reminding me, that even though there’s a big, sad world of suffering, there’s a bigger God who meets us in our suffering and brokenness and gives us hope to keep fighting.