Soaring upon Broken Wings; Becoming Whole


A slight tingling began atop her toes traveling through her limbs, sinews, until each cell was humming with life. The faint sound of clear water dancing happily over and under rocks, limbs, and around bends tickled her ears tempting her to open her eyes. Automatically, her body took a long deep breath filling her lungs with a lightly sweet, clear breath embracing her taste buds with a delectable blend of honey and roses. A sigh releases the air she had claimed as her own.

Willing her eyelids to lift seemed to be a herculean effort causing confusion and a host of inner questions. Her first attempt was met with brilliance so overwhelming she closed her eyes tighter than before. She decided to allow her other senses to communicate to her instead. Beneath her she felt a sun-warmed, soft bed of what her nose identified as tender new grass shoots. Outstretching her arms upon the surface, she concluded she must be lying in a field and not just a bed made from fresh grass. As she slowly caressed the immediate landscape she observed the absence of pebbles, roots, insects or other debris that might have marred her rest area.

A warm honeysuckle breeze danced over her frame causing a slight shiver. It was not cold but the wind skipped atop her skin as if it were trying to encourage her to proceed ever further in her exploration. Softly, slowly the sunbeams kissed her skin bringing color to her cheeks. The rapid beat of hummingbird wings combined with song birds, chirping chipmunks, and the splash of jumping fish soothed her ears. She wanted this moment to last forever as she had never felt such sensations in all her lived long life.

Raising her hand to her eyes she made a second attempt to view the world around her. Gradually her vision began to adjust to the brilliance. It was not a moment too soon as her curiosity had worked itself into a frenzy. At first, the light was so bright that she considered for a moment that the space she occupied was devoid of all color and definition. The adjustment was agonizingly slow but shapes and colors eventually began to come into focus. She was indeed in a field of new grass hemmed in by large evergreens creating an alcove of sorts. Flowers, animals, song birds, and large colorful butterflies among other creatures shared the pristine patch of creation with her. They seemed to be absent of all fear of her and of each other.

Although she considered herself well-versed, the awe inspiring beauty in which she found herself defied description. Still in a reclined position, she found herself looking up into the large brown eyes of a new fawn. A broad smile graced her countenance while the joy she felt bubbled out in the form of a giggle. The fawn cocked his head in wonder at the strange creature that had suddenly arrived in this blessed habitat. Long graceful lashes batted toward her as if the small creature were encouraging her to move. She slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position then froze as if struck by lightning. Two bright blue butterflies with yellow spots were performing a clumsy but intricate ballet within her field of vision but her mind was racing with another thought so overwhelming that she was not able to fully appreciate the pair.

What just happened? Her mind demanded. She returned to a laying position and searched the sky for familiar markers but all she could see was light. No sun, no clouds, no horizon only light. Her breathing became rapid now as she repeated the action of sitting up and lying down in quick succession. Each time she accomplished the task her smile became ever broader until she was squealing with delight. With her last sit-up she followed through to a standing position. It happened with such ease that she was certain this all must be a glorious dream and began thanking her Father for this precious gift.

Looking down for the first time, she noticed she was adorned with a light flowing shift made of the softest gossamer that just tickled the top of her feet. When her inspection reached her hands she took a sharp breath. They were not swollen, red, or disfigured. She flexed them with ease and tears began to accumulate as her bodily survey continued. Nothing was swollen, no sores, and her skin was perfect! None of her digits were bent askew making them unusable; no pain raced throughout her body…no pain. Her hands flew to her head where she found a full head of hair flowing down her back. Her hands lingered in her locks as the welled tears flowed freely from their pools. Without hesitation she ran to the creek, knelt down, and peered into the crystal water. Her thick wavy hair tumbled forward framing her face. The reflection revealed a beautiful woman without blemish. So foreign was this reflection that she turned around quickly to see who was standing over her but the space was occupied by family of rabbits happily munching on clover.

Almost afraid to look upon the reflection again for fear it would be different, she hesitated to return her gaze back toward the glassy pool of water. She chided herself for wasting time in this wonderful dream and returned her attention to a reflection she had to admit to be her own. None of the scars the disease had created were there, no, her skin was so smooth and soft that it felt as if it were a newborn’s skin. Her tongue raced back and forth across her teeth making her smile ever greater. They were all there, perfect, white and shining back through her tear glazed eyes. While growing up she only allowed herself to believe that she had three features that she could consider beautiful, her hair, her eyes, and her teeth. When the ailments and medications attacked them, distorted them and caused their eventual loss, she felt truly hideous in the eyes of mankind. Of course, the skin ulcerations completed the package of ‘monster’ in her eyes. Not only did she not think of herself as a real woman any longer but she barely felt human.

But this…this was not possible…this was amazing, for she was beautiful, she was whole, without blemish. Could this be how she would have existed if creation had not been broken by sin? Could this vision before her be who God sees when he looks upon her?

While these realizations filled her with the utmost joy and thanksgiving her second conclusion blew her away.

“There is no pain…, no…pain but how can this be?”

she marveled as she recounted all the movements she had just performed without giving any of them a second thought. She just thought about them and did it without hesitation or a “game plan” to complete them as per her usual routine.

“No pain? No Pain? No Pain! No Pain!” She cried aloud while jumping up and down in sheer and utter delight.

Born with a chronic pain-filled progressive disease, the woman had never known a single moment where pain had not accompanied her upon her journey. Is this really how other people wake up every day? This is amazing, stupendous, miraculous…yes…it …is….miraculous! Yet, it went far beyond the absence of physical pain. Her heart that had been bruised, crushed, destroyed and reconstructed on multiple occasions did not hurt. There was an absence of sadness. In fact, the very concept of pain was beginning to fade from her recollection as her being absorbed the reality of the world around her.

“Please, Lord, let this be more than a dream. I am sorry to be greedy and ask this of you after you have gifted me such a glorious dream but this is too wonderful from which to awake!” She cried in earnest to her Heavenly Father.

The breeze stilled and the creatures silenced their musings as she felt a presence there with her. It was not menacing but it was quite powerful. Trembling a bit, she slowly turned instantly recognizing the lamb standing before her. She fell to her knees and worshiped him and thanking him for this glorious gift. His hand encompassed hers bringing her to a standing position.

“My child, you are home. Your work is complete and now you are finally home. Your body is perfect, without illness, without pain, without a single symptom of a creation broken. This is not a dream child. This, my dear daughter, is eternity and it is with a glad heart that I welcome you to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
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To all my friends and family who are broken in some manner,

Remember, this is not your home. You were put here to do a job and when that job is complete, the Father will bring you home so do not despair in the pain and sorrow of today. Do not overly grieve for loved ones who have gone home, for they have earned their reward and are enjoying eternity. After all, it is not good-bye, not really because we will be reunited. Pain is the weapon of Satan because he knows if he weakens us then buries us with troubles our spirits will weaken and our faith may die. Nothing would please him more.
However, have fair warning, if you choose not to follow God’s plan for your life and never start or complete the job he created you for that will not preclude you from death. It will only mean that you wasted your life delaying the healing of creation, for the Father will create another to do the job you were supposed to do.

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Why Am I?


Opening my eyes
greeted by my pups
yapping good morning.

I have to move,
I must get out of bed
and I think, ‘Why again,
did I want dogs?’ but then
their exuberant kisses,
happy eyes and wagging tails
quickly remind me.

I muster my strength
and pull myself to the edge
of the bed, simultaneously
praying for the ability
and offering praise for
each and every inch.

My pups cheer me on
until I am upright
wobbling my way
to the bathroom.

Putting on my robe
releases another round
of barking, but now in urgency.
I move as quickly as
my body will permit.

By the time I hobble my
way to the living room,
start the routine and
hook them to their
leashes they are
dancing in circles.

I grasp the leashes tightly,
grimace at the pain,
then open the door.
They bound outside
to find their favorite
spots then scout out
the yard for nightly
critter activity.

I descend the five steps
that lead to my home
stiff-legged holding
firmly to the leashes.
Walking to my favorite
spot, a lawn chair
providing a picturesque view
between several large,
beautiful trees. Wispy
white clouds are
streaked across the
blue expanse.

I praise God for this gift
and begin thinking. First,
I think of the tasks
that need accomplished,
the tasks that I would
like to accomplish,
and then the ones that will
actually get accomplished.

I dismiss the aches and pains,
and the spasms in my back,
while inspecting the ulcerations
upon my skin.

Now I have time to ponder,
“Why am I?”

Five Years


I was diagnosed with systemic rheumatoid arthritis at the age of five. I was born to a steelworker and a housewife. We had good insurance and income until my father was laid off and then we had very little. I was raised to think nothing of the arthritis; instead, I was told by more than one health professional that the RA would likely go away by the time I was a teen. In 1974, there were few options for anyone who had arthritis let alone for children with the disease and even less was known about it among the lay population. By the time I reached adolescence the disease was not the only major thing going on in my life so it took a back burner to everything else life dished out. In fact, I never considered myself sickly and was always surprised when someone showed me sympathy for the disease. I had no idea what it all meant and no one in my family knew more than just the basics. You must remember that it was the 1970’s and personal computers were in their infancy and far, far, out of reach for my family even if it had been offered to the public. Hence, there were not many places to look up information about childhood diseases. Additionally, I was one of three children and that left precious few hours in the day. The mindset in those days was to listen to the medical professional as if they held the only truth and this was even more pertinent to the blue collar sect and all those below.

            The good that came from being raised in this type of atmosphere is the fact that I did not even think to feel sorry for myself, nor was I allowed to baby myself. The thought not to do everything the other kids did never crossed my mind. I was sick, a lot, but I never thought of myself as a sickly kid because I was not treated as such. I do not remember a day without aches and pains so this became my “normal”. I just assumed everyone dealt with what I had to each day. This was my life and I did not question it; instead, I lived it. It was not until I was in middle school that I began to realize that there was something that set me apart from the rest; however, it wouldn’t be until I reached college that true understanding would come. Even then the disease was pushed into the shadows because I did not have the time, energy, or desire to deal with it. I had been determined to be “normal” ever since grade school when the other kids began treating me differently. I did not have medical insurance between the ages of 17 and 27; therefore, I treated the symptoms of the disease with high doses of  OTC aspirin. I was never attracted by the drug or alcohol scene so that factor never became an issue.

            At 42 years of age, I have been dealing with inadequate care for this progressive and aggressive disease for the past 37 years. It has not been an easy path to walk, both literally and figuratively. There have been moments when I could not bear the thought of spending one more moment in pain let alone the next 60 years. If you allow it, this type of disease will rob you of everything. It will destroy who you are, who you hope to become, and how you are remembered years after you have passed. It will steal your happiness and contentment. It will annihilate your dreams. It causes hatred, bitterness, and envy to build to nuclear levels of destruction until you do not even want to be around yourself. However, it can only do any of these things if you allow it too. The only thing this disease will do with 100% certainty is corrode your body but it is up to you to decide if you will spend the rest of your life waiting for the torture to finally cease or spend each moment living toward fulfillment and peace. Trust me when I say that these words are not spoken lightly, for I continue to carry the weight of this burden even now.  I have made plan after plan for my life but they have not come to fruition. Despite the strong desire to do otherwise, I have not given up.  I am not a super human person resolved to be tough regardless of the pain. On the contrary, there are many a day where I crawl into a hole and pull the dirt in behind me caring little for anything outside my misery. Each moment is a battle. Some are victories and some…are not.

            What is the key then? What turns the tide? Hope. Hope will give you strength; therefore, you must become determined to find that which gives you hope. For me, it is my relationship with my heavenly Father. My hope rests in him and I take comfort in knowing that my body will be whole again someday and that there does exist a day when I will awake without pain. There may be no cure from the medical community; therefore, I do not waste my time hoping for one. Instead, I pray for strength and endurance. I pray that I might glean wisdom through my sufferings. However, there are many a day where I pray for all just to stop. When you are chronically suffering, I would consider you ill balanced if you did not think, ask, or pray for release from the pain at some point or another. I draw heavily upon the strength of Christ Jesus because this frail body cannot do it alone.

            At five years old, I had no idea why I could not walk. I had no idea why I was in so much pain or why my mother cried. I had no clue of what was to come or how difficult the road would become but I still hold to my hope even if it has been translucent at times. Do not give up, do not surrender, and never tell yourself that the fight just isn’t worth it.

Wait a sec, hold the phone, put the ponies back in the corral…


 You’ve now had time to digest the information. Actually, you may be more confused and frightened than ever because you may feel as if an information “bomb” has knocked you out of the realm in which you were sure of how things worked. Now nothing makes sense. How could I develop this type of disease? I am far too young. The doc said there was no cure but “we” had plenty of treatment options to try. He said it like it was a good thing but now fear of the known replaces fear of the unknown. You thought a diagnosis would make you feel better and on some level it does but the more you learn the more frightened and disheartened you become. Your friends and family act as if it is nothing serious and you may find yourself beginning to resent their reaction because you are in pain and it is not going away. This isn’t some minor problem, you are going to have this the rest of your life. What was the term the doctor used…progressive? That means…this is going to get worse, much worse but it is not going to kill me? Your mind begins to race again as you try to process this overload and subsequent realizations. What are you going to do? How are you going to work? What kind of future do you have? What is my future going to look like?

            As your good days and bad days hit at seemingly random times, you begin to take note of what circumstances surround each type of day. You quickly find that the weather plays a huge role in your pain. The higher the barometric pressure coupled with the rapidity of the change will dictate whether it will be a day of dread or of your new level of “normalcy”. No one understands that your lifestyle must change. Heck, you are having great difficulty understanding the changes you must make. This is not an easy transition and you will fight it every step of the way. You start off by lying to yourself and ignoring the symptoms until they knock you on your butt because they will not be ignored. You refuse to ride in a scooter type vehicle because those are for “disabled” people and you are NOT disabled…are you? My God, what if you cannot work…will you become a “burden” on society? How will you pay your bills? What kind of insurance do you have?  You are nowhere near retirement age so what are you going to do, how are you going to live? If you have children it becomes more complicated especially if you are the bread winner.

            Depending on how you react to major life stress will dictate the order in which you arrive at the various coping mechanisms. I have found that people who have developed arthritis during childhood have stronger and more effective coping mechanisms in regards to their disease and life in general. People who develop disease onset after a relatively long period of normal activity, say in their 30-40’s, have a much more difficult time accepting and coping with the disease. You see, folks who were essentially born with the disease have never known a day without pain and/or limitation in some fashion. People who have lived their lives with no real incidents of serious health issues experience mourning when they are hit with this type of life altering disease. Likewise, folks who develop arthritis in middle age experience a very active voracious level of the disease. It’s almost as if the disease were making up for lost time. This type of disease is devastating on every level. You will question your faith, your relationships, and your own sanity at times. Nothing is “normal” any longer. Life, as you know it, is over and the journey begins to rebuild your future. There are six stages of grief and you will revisit them time and again throughout the progression of the disease because your mind and soul need answers and when it is faced with the impossible it has to try to make sense of everything. Very soon you will come to a horrific realization. That day in the doctor’s office when you felt relief when told that your ailment was not terminal was borne out of ignorance, for now you realize what he was telling you. People with chronic deteriorating diseases are given a life sentence of torture, ridicule, condemnation, self-defamation, depression, pain, deformity, a constant fight for treatment depending on their socioeconomic level in society and no possibility of release. So what are you supposed to do…give up, give in, and accept societal labels and live down to their stereotypes? No…Hell No!