Dry Spell

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I haven’t been writing actual from my mind blog posts recently, and for good reason. Over the past several years, my wife has experienced chronic pain. At first, we weren’t sure what was causing her migraines, but after 7-10 years of trying different treatments, drugs, surgeries, and method, we believe we’re at a solution.

Like I said, it all started out as really bad headaches that would put her in bed for long periods. It was really rough on her because we had two small boys and she worked from home, but she somehow managed, even though I wasn’t always as patient, understanding, or helpful as I should have been. She saw her doctor who prescribed her the expected medications like topomax. They seemed to work at first, but then the pain returned.

After some time experimenting with migraine medications, she moved on to chiropractic care. She went for adjustments up to four times a month at first, then backed down as she went along. Again, it seemed to help at first, but tapered off. The chiropractor had an MRI done at some point which showed how misaligned her neck was, but it didn’t look too bad, at first.

A year or so later, when the adjustments weren’t working, the chiropractor referred my wife to a neurologist who began her on various medications, again. And again, the meds showed little promise at first, then nothing. Another MRI revealed that Rachel’s spine was really jacked-up and she needed to have 4 vertebrae fused. “Oh, finally!” we thought. “This should take care of everything!”

We were wrong and so were the neurologist, neurosurgeon, chiropractor, and every other physician we had consulted for the last seven years. Her pain actually increased! We were angry, heartbroken, and depressed. But, to her credit, Rachel did not give up. She went back to the neurologist, tried more medications, even was referred to a pain specialist and took dozens of shots directly into her spine. When those had no effect, she tried deep tissue massage, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and a host of other alternative treatments. But, nothing worked!

Finally, the neurologist somehow figured out that Rachel might have something called occipital neuralgia, a condition in which the nerves in the back of your head become compressed or damaged, causing chronic pain. Why this wasn’t the first diagnosis, I don’t know. But, Rachel took this new information and ran with it, joining online groups such as the Occipital Neuralgia Support Group and gaining information and advice from them and associated doctors.

Finally, she had some answers, but not all of them. It took lots of time and research to get the answers we needed, but even then it was a struggle.

She found out that her nerves were likely being compressed by muscles or blood vessels in the back of her head and that a procedure called Nerve Decompression Surgery might be necessary. So, she went back to the neurologist who suggested they inject botox into the muscles and see if that might relieve the pressure and thereby relieve the pain. Of course, it didn’t work.

More research. More digging. More pain.

After many discussions online and a better idea of what was going on in the back of her head, Rachel discovered that there were surgeons who would perform decompression or excision of occipital nerves, but there were only a handful of them in the world. Further information finally led her to a plastic surgeon in Washington DC named Dr. Ivica Ducic at Capital Plastic Surgeons.  “A plastic surgeon?” you ask. Let me explain. Plastic surgeons perform all kinds of skin tightening procedures like facelifts that change the positioning of the muscles and nerves. In several cases after patients had facelifts or similar procedures, they also mentioned not having headaches any more. This led naturally into research by some of these surgeons toward various nerve decompression and excision surgeries.

So, this all brings us up to the present. Tomorrow morning, we are driving to Washington DC to have my wife’s occipital nerves cut out. We hope and pray that this is the end of the line for the constant pain she deals with and I ask your prayers in this. There will be other hardships in life, but having my wife free from pain is a huge deal for us. Thanks for reading this personal history lesson. I hope mercies upon you…

Soulbook: Psychology and the Soul @Enwrightened

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This is the twelfth excerpt from Soulbook. Order Soulbook from Enwrightened Publications or Amazon.

Psychology and the Soul

In the first century during the ministries of Jesus and His followers, many people were healed of various conditions. However, one of the maladies Jesus was best known for curing had to do with diseases of the mind and/or Soul. Demon possession was probably one of the most feared mental and spiritual conditions of the time. During this time, demons could inhabit the bodies of people with virtual impunity, until Jesus and His disciples came along and cast them back into Hell. Today, people also suffer from mental sickness. But, are these ailments a result of some sort of supernatural power, or merely caused by chemical imbalances, mental trauma, and other mind altering stimuli?

One of the first things to consider is the nature of the mental problems in the first century and how they differ from today’s mental issues. How are they alike and how are they different? Are the brain, the Soul, and the mind all the same thing? Where do these disorders begin and how are they treated? What about people who manifest separate personalities? Are they exhibiting multiple Souls? Do these problems conflict with Biblical teaching in any way? These are very serious matters without easy answers. But, in Chapter 13 these questions will be examined and rectified.

People who have psychological disorders are still people, although some would say otherwise. And it’s important to recognize these people as human beings with problems. Can they live lives of service before God? Can they be saved? What is the state of their Souls? We will look for these answers together and discover how God’s love keeps the Soul and surpasses our understanding.

A Sacrifice? Look past Easter to what Jesus really did @Enwrightened

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Have you ever wondered why Jesus dying was a sacrifice at all? I mean, he is God and would rise again anyway, so how is that a sacrifice on Jesus’ or The Father’s part? I won’t go into detail as to why it was definitely not only a sacrifice, but the most amazing and cataclysmic sacrifice that has ever been or will ever be. But, I can tell you that The Restructuring of Heaven by Mike Johnson will tell you just that. It’s an amazing book; one that will enlighten you and explain Jesus’ love for you!

The Tower Quail release in one week! 24 April 2014 @brwpublisher

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I just wanted to remind everyone that The Tower Quail will be released by Black Rose Writing on 24 April 2014! I’m really excited about the release of this book. It’s a novel that is very special to me (as all my books are). Here’s a backflap synopsis:

What would you do if you could see the future? Would you use this power for good? Could you handle the responsibility or would the strain break you? Tabitha Fowler, a teenager growing up in rural Alabama, has to face up to these questions after she is transported through time and space in a “time bounce.” Tabitha discovers that her brother, Jeff, is leaving home to join the military and runs away from home and finds herself at the foot of an abandoned tower. The huge, metal structure, called the Tower Quail by locals, contains a power Tabitha’s special physical characteristics unlock.

Tabitha swoons at the base of the tower and awakes at the top with no knowledge of how she got there. When she awakes, the tower is roused from its sleep and creates a field of energy which shrouds Tabitha and sends her hurtling toward the ground, bounces her through time and space, and reveals elements of her past and future that haunt her thereafter. Tabitha awakes the next day and makes her way home. Her parents, shocked and relieved at her return, tell her that she has been gone for over a month.  She soon discovers her new, prophetic abilities and is plagued by them to the point of madness. Tabitha struggles with good and evil and her own life as she works out why she was given such a gift and curse. In the end, will she discover her purpose and find her voice?

2014 Alabama Book Festival!

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I know I’m posting a lot lately, but I HAD to let everyone know about this awesome event!

If you have a chance, come out to the Alabama Book Festival this weekend. Here’s some more info!

We’re looking forward to seeing lots of old friends and many new ones on at the ninth annual Alabama Book Festival in Old Alabama Town, downtown Montgomery, on Saturday, April 19, 2014. The festival gates will open at 9 a.m., and author presentations will be 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The Student Readers Group discussion will be at 9 a.m., and free writing workshops will be at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. (more information below). At 4 p.m. there will be a lively program of readings and music from The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul. Exhibitors and vendors, including vendors selling food and drink, will be on hand all day.

Where’d My Joy Go?

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For a while now, I have been struggling with myself and my inability to embrace joy. I’m generally a happy person, but happiness and joy are two completely different things and I am in the middle of trying to figure out how to get past some things that seem to be in the way of being a better friend, husband, father, and servant of God. Here are a few obstacles in my path and might be in yours as well:

1. Trying too hard. I’ve noticed that ambition almost always gets in the way of joy. Joy and contentment are very close to each other. So, when you are in the throes of ambition, it’s understandable that it would be difficult to be joyous and not always reaching for the next goal. How can I get around this issue? I believe that ambition is important and even integral to joy, but it must be balanced or seasoned with an understanding that I can’t be “on” all the time. It seems that every moment I think about what I want to acheive next; what I “need” to accomplish. While it’s important to set and attain goals, it’s also important to take time to just “be”. Joy is in contentment and “being” is part of being content. Just “be”.

2. My expectations are too high. This goes for myself and for others. When you expect too much of yourself, you will often fail those expectations and end up feeling terrible about yourself. However, my main problem is that I expect too much of others and find myself almost continually disappointed by other people. For instance, I think about suffering in the world a great deal of the time; mostly the suffering of children. I lead a ministry over care and provision for orphans and fatherless, which allows me to see this suffering first-hand. So, much of my life and thoughts are consumed with thinking about these kids. This makes it easy for me to judge others and wonder why they’re “throwing money away” or “wasting their time” when I see them post pictures of their families that were just taken in a professional photo shoot. Or I wonder why they couldn’t come to and give at a benefit dinner, then I see that they went to a sporting event or concert and spent who knows how much money to “treat themselves”. I know, this is judgemental and it’s hard for me to deal with, especially when my family and I forego these types of luxuries so that we can give to help children or the poor. Which leads to the last issue I’ve noticed in myself…

3. I think I’m something special. The plain fact is that since I believe I’m doing good things, it makes me feel like I’m somehow better than others. The other fact here is that I AM NOT. I’m an imperfect, weak, and sin-laden soul who needs help and peace and forgiveness just like anyone else.

I know this post is awfully ranty, but I needed to get some things out and also find a way forward through this weird and messy me-ness. We all struggle in life. I just want to be able to not think too much and not abdicate my joy.

I hope you will, too.