If you’re reading this, it means you’ve found your way to the new ChronicPraise community and decided to check it out. Thank you! Maybe you know me or someone in my family…maybe you’ve heard me speak at a conference in years’ past. Or perhaps you’ve heard that I was out for a little while getting used to some crazy medical issues that have been thrown in to my life (can anyone relate – ??!!? ).
Or… maybe you’re just like me, with chronic “things” in your life, looking for some help in figuring it all out. Trying to find sense in the makes-no-sense that life throws at us.
So… I welcome you to ChronicPraise. It is my hope that you find help, hope, and purpose in your season of chronic [_______]. Fill in the blank. We all have a chronic something and for many of us, that is chronic pain, a chronic diagnosis, medical issues that wreak havoc on every other aspect of our lives. We don’t feel well, it affects our family, we get lonely, our jobs are in jeopardy because we can’t keep up, life is always uphill, always… this list could go on and on.
If this describes your life, then my friend, ChronicPraise is for you.
Welcome to the family! I’m really glad you’re here.
Here’s a little about my story and the “why” behind ChronicPraise.
Several years ago,I felt a call – with great urgency – for a new page in my life. I’d been in small business America since 1999 and had climbed as high as one could climb in that arena. Business awards, working with legislators in our nation’s capitol and being appointed to a national healthcare position – it was a great journey for this entrepreneurial gal, and I enjoyed that season tremendously. I’ll forever have those great memories, and the friends and connections will last a lifetime.
Along the way, I learned an awful lot about an awful lot, and in particular I learned the administrative side of patient care and quality in medical records. I also discovered a new passion, a hidden skill – public speaking. Who knew? I’d never really done it to a large scale, national level, but I really enjoyed the education side of things, meeting new people, encouraging, helping industry leaders think outside the box. Teaching at seminars and conferences, developing training materials for various colleges and institutions, and being published in medical journals were all amazing experiences. I developed a passion for teaching/speaking and longed to do more of it, and over time, this desire became a consuming passion and pursuit.
After many years in the healthcare speaking circuit, I felt I’d already taught folks about all I knew at the time and sensed that things were getting kind of … well, stale. Throughout this time, I began to get tired and sensed that my message was getting pretty tired too, yet there was a new passion regarding public speaking and writing, and a call that I was supposed to do something with that. I remember telling the Lord, “You’ve started a new desire in my heart, Lord. If You want me to do this public speaking thing, You’re going to have to give me something new to tell them. I’ve given them all I have, there’s nothing else to tell.” And I petitioned the Lord to give me a story, something that would help other people. Something that would be a tool they’d find useful. Something to encourage. Something to make a difference. A Kingdom difference.
I had no idea what was about to happen.
And so began my struggle with chronic disease. In 2007, I began quite the mysterious medical journey of low blood pressure, extremely low pulse rates, and of course, the fatigue that comes with that. My BPs were often as low as 70s/30s and my pulse rate got lower and lower until my normal was about 35. It was terrible. We searched for everything and I saw specialist after specialist trying to figure out what was going on. There were numerous syncopal (fainting) episodes that made even the slightest of daily tasks difficult. “Difficult” isn’t even the right word to describe it. I’m not sure there is a right word, really.
The diagnoses were numerous. Rheumatoid disease/arthritis. Sick sinus syndrome. Dysautonomia. Addison’s. Sjogren’s. Ulcerative colitis. Pacemaker. The fatigue that descended upon my world was catastrophic beyond any mind’s ability to compute. It hijacked my thought process at every turn. Now, anyone with CD (chronic disease) knows that “chronic” means just that – chronic. All the time. No down time. Never stops. Ever present. Always in your face. Threads through every.single.thing you do. This is the face of chronic. Fast forward three years, and my complaining and negativity had become chronic, too. I was fed up. Discouraged. Oh my, so discouraged. I was done. That is, D.O.N.E. – done.
I didn’t sign up for this…and I didn’t want it anymore.
It was ugly. So much brain power was spent just trying to figure out what was going on that there was very little left to just be sick. To feel the illness. To take it all in. To learn. To adjust. To mourn.
We were desperate. The known – and the still unknown – rocked my day from sun-up to sun-down. There was no escape. I was tired to the point of exhaustion. Fainting. And sick. So very sick. And quite discouraged. My parents had been up from Georgia to help with hospitalizations. I’d missed out on so much with the kids. I wasn’t able to work, so the business was failing. And everything….everything…. was falling on Chris. I had not another single ounce of “can-do” left in my mind or body. I wanted to be done with this illness. The chronicity of it almost made it like an obsession because there was no escape. Though I begged for one. And any escape would do, really.
I cried. A lot. In my private moments, I cried the ugly cries, you know, those with tears and nose-runs and fighting just to stutter-breathe through it. I prayed. Oh, how I prayed. Earnestly… you know, the desperate kind of prayers that seem to take your final breaths just to get the words out. Yeah, that stuff.
Finally, the breakthrough came.
It was as clear to me as a blue sky on a cloudless day. It had been a sleepness night, the lack of sleep which I’d come to expect most every night. And God spoke. Suddenly my questions came together in somewhat of an understanding of the life I’d been living. What if the journey I was traveling really didn’t have anything to do with my status quo? What if God was doing a new work in me, for His glory? And here’s the a-ha moment …. What if my desires changed from “less of this” to “more of You?” What if my pursuit of Jesus became as chronic as rheumatoid was in my body??? What if worship consumed my every thought instead me always thinking of the situation I was in?
What if my worship wasn’t dependent upon my situation at all?
God hit a re-set button in my very soul, and in an instant, these new thoughts became urgent for me. My heart became heavy to help others who suffered just like me by sharing my health story and teaching all about the administrative side of being sick. No one ever talks about that part. The years of healthcare teaching and leadership training could perhaps encourage and empower others to push through their “chronic.” Many people have asked me to help them correct things in their medical records, and I’ve got more stories than I could ever share of the urgent need for patients everywhere to know what’s in their chart.
I sat on the idea for almost a year before mentioning it to anyone. Research ensued for months…. books, blogs, stories of suffering, disease journeys – you name it, trying to determine whether or not I should share my story in this way. In any way, really. Who would be the least bit interested? Who am I kidding to think I could help anyone? Would the Lord really take something so awful and turn it in to something useful and amazing, for His glory? I mean, I knew He could transform anything, but would He, really? In me?
In the end, God’s word says we will overcome “…by the word of our testimony.” If there’s a story to tell, then open my mouth and tell it, for Heaven’s sake! For crying out loud, open up and SPEAK. After all, I don’t usually have a problem with that!
And so, with a new purpose and passion, and after two years of <…insert procrastination words here…>, I welcome you to chronicpraise.com. It’s an effort filled not with perfection, but with passion, promise and purpose that I pray will leave you more encouraged, more uplifted, more informed, and more determined than before you arrived.
This is why I have done it. Welcome to the family, my friend.