April 2015 Newsletter

MINISTRY AT A GLANCE

Financials: Monthly Revenue Required:$4,700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $5162.00 Remaining Need: $10,000 to finish cabinet doors and 2nd basement bedroom. So grateful for God’s amazing provision!

Something Interesting or Unique that happened last month:   1.)We booked 2 intensives for the next 2 months out here at the ranch. 2. ) We just about completed the couples living area with furniture and a gorgeous sitting area!

Top Praise of the Month: Praise God for 5 days away as a family vacationing together! We enjoyed Lake Mead, Arches National Park, and Mesa Verde National Park.

Top Prayer Requests: 1.) We are still in need of more monthly support.  If only 20 people could give $50.00 a month we could support Mountain Haven and we could start to be more consistent on the income we give ourselves from service to Mountain Haven. Please pray about partnering with us. 2.) We are in grave need of a UTV ($11,000 value) in order to get up the driveway when we are not able to make it up with one of our vehicles. We have had to walk up 10 times this winter in blizzards. It is also an excellent resource for couples and families that come out visit and want to see the beautiful mountain terrain.

Looking Ahead:   We have changed our plan as far as finishing the cabinets because Kevin is not able to find the time to finish the cabinet doors himself. ( This is in the main kitchen area) Because of this it will cost us a bit more than originally estimated. We need to raise about $7000.00 to finish the cabinet doors. It will be awesome to finally have cabinets finished after 4 years of living in the house! The dust will no longer find its way into all the dishes and the food. It will be really wonderful to have those finished.

IS YOUR SPOUSE A PAIN IN THE BUTT?

Is your spouse dealing with chronic pain? How to live in grace when you live in pain

We decided to write this article because right now we are seeing and speaking with a lot of spouses who live with a partner who is in chronic pain. There are no easy answers, or platitudes, in situations like this and the task of dealing with, or living with, chronic pain is a heavy one.

I (Kevin) can speak to the issue of dealing with extensive chronic pain and learning to live in a way that my family does not have to suffer because of my issues. In 1991 I experienced a severely bulging disc in my lower back, L-5/S1. I was laid off at UPS for a while in order to recover and over a few months the issue seemed to go away.

The symptoms of that disc bulging returned at least once a year up until November of 2010 when I experienced a tear in the disc which crippled me instantly. We were living out here in Colorado and in the throes of full time ministry. I could not walk and needed emergency surgery to deal with the issue. Within a few days I was in the OR getting a laminectomy, and once I was out of surgery the nerve pain that crippled me was completely gone.

For about a year things seemed good, for the most part, and then eventually I started to experience sciatic pain once again. I saw an orthopedic surgeon right away in order to catch the problem before it got to be an emergency. A couple of months later I was having L-4/L-5, & S-1 fused together by my surgeon. He told us that this should cure any major issues with the sciatic nerve now that the disc that had often irritated it was now gone and could no longer bulge. He also assured me that this would not be the end of my pain, just a temporary band aid that extended the inevitable. He diagnosed a future of back pain, further bulging discs, and chronic pain due to degenerative disc disease.

I’m glad that we chose to have the fusions, but he was right- the pain is not over. Far from over. I’ve done well not relying solely on pain medication, but I do have to use it sometimes. I told Chris just this morning that every move hurts, but that I’ve programed myself to believe that the pain is normal. The bummer, and major distraction, is that it takes energy to fight the feeling of pain by putting it out of my head; like when I’m talking with someone (like my wife or children) and the pain interferes with my ability to process what’s being said by the other person. I’m telling you this because if you have a spouse or family member that deals with chronic pain, it helps to understand what they are working through in order to just survive life.

Chris has been very helpful and graceful with my back issues and the last 12 years of dealing with chronic Crohn’s Disease. She has spent a good amount of time beside me as I lay in a hospital bed. I’m grateful that I have a high pain tolerance and have not had to be incapacitated by heavy doses of pain meds. She is very aware of what I am capable of doing when it comes to physical labor. I really wish she didn’t have to deal with these issues with me. I know that it takes a lot out of her to have to understand my medical issues. I am so grateful for her understanding and compassion. I am also careful not to project my pain onto her.

Chris and I have spent a good amount of time evaluating how my pain affects us. Ongoing conversation is critical for evaluating how to do life together. We discuss how pain affects my ability to deal with issues or even how pain affects conversations that demand something from me. We discuss how pain affects my ability to communicate clearly. How it affects my attitude. How it affects my mood. The bottom line is that God still requires me to respond in a Godly manner to my family no matter what pain I feel. I have had some moments, but for the most part I have been able to communicate with my family where I am at as far as pain goes. They have also been very loving and compassionate to my journey with all of this. Lastly, we commit to praying about it, and I try to lead that charge- but when I can’t I’m honest with Chris that today is just a terrible day.

Please be mindful that if you are experiencing chronic pain you need to continually be aware of how the pain affects your ability to be present for your family. If you feel irritable when people are talking with you, take a moment to think about where your pain level is so that you can be honest and communicate how you are, you can finish a conversation at a different time when your mind is less affected by pain. I noticed that I have to intentionally put pain out of my mind in order to correspond with my family. Sometimes I do it well and sometimes I have to communicate that we need to talk at a different time.

Another way to show that you are being present is to be mindful of chores and tasks and things that you can still do to commit and show your commitment to your family. All of us are willing to sacrifice pain when it comes to doing something fun or a hobby we love, but I have to remember that I must be as willing to sacrifice for my family for the things I don’t love – like filling the dishwasher or doing laundry or cook a meal. It is not easy and I can get irritable. Do whatever you can to help around the house to the ability you can help. I would encourage you to sit down with your spouse and make a list of the chores you can help with, and what you cannot help with. I believe that God helps us endure the suffering we go through so that He is glorified for all we do! The bottom line is that if you are the spouse that is suffering with chronic pain or chronic sickness; first and foremost bring your pain to God who understands it better than anyone. Second, ask him ways to use the pain to glorify him by serving your family and also being honest when you just can’t

I (Chris), as the wife of a chronic pain sufferer have learned that the most important thing I can do is to always offer compassion. But, when I am fatigued or exhausted from carrying a lot of duties or listening to someone in chronic pain, it is better for me to take a break and take care of myself. It is especially difficult not to have any family out here, and very limited friends available that can help during chronic flare ups, so I try to communicate with Kevin during those times when the hospital visits have interfered with our lives- or there have been a lot of medical appointments. I communicate when I’m leaving to go for a hike, or a run, or a treasured time away with a friend that I am compassionate towards him, but I need time to be refueled. He has really helped me know that I don’t own His pain. We pray together a lot, and that helps a lot too. He communicates how debilitating the pain is, but often he just doesn’t communicate it because it is hard to hear, and feels futile to solve and he doesn’t want to be a complainer. That’s a drag.

Chronic pain is a burden, a mystery, a complex theological conundrum. Some want to throw scripture at it, some want to solve it by saying ” buck it up”, some by saying ” no one understands”, some want to focus on it as the main issue, and some will become paralyzed by it. Either way the focus must be on the temporary nature of pain. It sure as heck doesn’t feel that way and I can’t tell you how many hospital visits since we have been out here where I have been desperate and broken feeling like the only one alone to deal with Kevin. It is temporary, there is an eternal purpose. God will be glorified. I can say that today – but tomorrow who knows:) I can just extend grace, compassion and hope when I am not where I need to be mentally and spiritually.

Friends, most importantly let us not forget those who suffer under the shadow of chronic pain. If this is you please find hope knowing that we do have a high priest who sympathizes a savior who was bruised and broken for us. We can’t be perfect like Christ but we can represent Him by loving and empathizing with our partner in a way that adds a little light to their burden

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