“Shape me Yet Anew” Poem by Mary Jane Gonzales

SHAPE ME YET ANEW
Father God, I pray
That you would shape me yet anew,
As this pot is cracked and broken
And un-beautiful to you.
Lord, I feel as if you’ve started
With a fresh supply of clay
And I’m spinning on the wheel
And my life’s begun to sway.
When you’ve shaped me in your image
And you put me in the kiln,
In the furnace of affliction
To be set and processed still,
Let the outcome be for glory,
Let on-lookers stop and gasp.
“How did He make this from nothing?”
Let the people stop and ask.
Let the beauty draw attention
To the artist and His work.
Give me beauty and a purpose, Lord,
Of which I would not shirk.
As it is with real life pottery,
A pitcher or a vase,
Make me useful to the Master
In the setting where I’m placed.

-Mary Jane Gonzales

 

JEREMIAH 18:4 (NIV)
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

 

This is from Mary Jane Gonzales’s book, Poetic Devotions for Those in Pain. I absolutely love this book of hers. The words are simple, but each poem has a profound message.
She told me that her poems are actually her prayers. After her chronic pain began, she could no longer pray as she had before… her emotional and physical pain were far too burdensome and overwhelming. 
Then she started speaking her prayers to the Lord through song and verse; that’s how she began writing books. Ten in full!
It’s incredibly intimate that she shares them with us. I find it so powerful being allowed to read one’s inner most private prayers to our Heavenly Father. It’s such a privilege. It feels as though she wrote the words written on my own heart. 
Her permission was given to share any of her poetry here, and today as her family holds a Celebration of her Life, I’ll be sharing some of her beautiful poetry with you to celebrate her life and work.  Please join me in praying for Jane’s family as they say goodbye, and I pray we as the chronic illness community can honor her legacy and continue her incredible work as the strong advocate she was. 
Purchase her ebooks here on her book page. If you can’t afford it at this time but would still love to read one of her books, please email me, and I’ll be happy to gift you a free book. abodyofhope@mail.com

 

 

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Mary Jane Gonzales’s ‘Celebration of Life’ and Obituary

Below is the link to beloved author, poet, and long time chronic pain advocate, Jane Gonzales’s obituary.

Her family is saying goodbye and honoring her with a ‘Celebration of her Life’.

Obituary of Mary Jane Gonzales

Her service is on Feb 5th, in Houston, TX.

For those of us who cannot make it to her service to say our final goodbyes, we will be sharing our special memories, and the many ways she affected our lives and inspired us. We’ll also be posting some of Jane’s wonderful heartfelt poetry and articles here as well.

I invite you share your precious memories of our sister, Mary Jane Gonzales, so we can all remember her and celebrate her incredible life together.

abodyofhope@mail.com

 

Saying Goodbye to Mary Jane Gonzales

Mary Jane Gonzales, one of the greatest voices for CRPS/RSD and chronic pain awareness has passed away after battling Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for over 25 years.

She passed away on January 21st, 2018 from complications of chronic illness. She turned 70 this past year.

Jane authored several inspiring books (linked below), her Facebook page Poetic Hearts remains open, and her blog, http://LifethroughPoetryandProse.simplesite.com has an abundance of Jane’s articles on Chronic Pain. You can leave a comment on her blog or her Facebook Timeline for her family if you’d like.

She was a poet, an artist, mother, grandmother, and one of my closest friends.
I’m not exactly sure how to proceed, or how to honor her memory properly yet.
But, I want to invite you, if you have a personal story about Jane, a memory, artwork, a poem, etc. Please email it to me at abodyofhope@mail.com
I need your help. I’m organizing a month-long tribute to share her life, and your messages will be at the center.
Maximum 800 words, no minimum

She will be missed by so many. But she left so much behind for us all to remember her and what she stood for.

If you have followed this blog, you’ll already be familiar with Mary Jane Gonzales. Read more about her and her books below, an article I wrote about her 2 years ago as a surprise for her when her 10th book was released.

She touched so many lives, and she will be missed by all of us.

She is no longer suffering. She is finally free. She’s walking in the sunshine with her best friend and Savior, Jesus. I look forward to telling you more about her and her life in the coming days. Take heart knowing that she is where her soul has longed to be. She ran the race.

DisabledandDivorced

life beyond pain 

When it feels like life is breaking apart around us, we must go out of our way to pour light and wisdom back into our lives. I wanted to share the books of Mary Jane Gonzales here because self care during a separation or divorce is so crucial! This author, poet, mother, and chronic pain survivor knows a thing or two about caring for her own body and spirit. 

She just released her 10th book, A Voice Unheard, which is unlike any of her previous books. Her compassion and inside knowledge for the current issues those with chronic illness live with silently, makes this book a must read for patients, family of anyone diagnosed with a chronic disease, and health care professionals.

a voice unheardGonzales utilizes the patient advocacy work she has done over the years to speak out on behalf of those marginalized on account of being disabled or chronically ill…

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Self Care Plan

If you know someone going through a bad breakup, someone grieving a loss, someone who lives with mental illness, or someone going through a new or ongoing health crisis, share this image with them to save on their phone or computer.

If you’re going through a tough season and *need* to ask for help, I pray you have the courage to do so, and a compassionate soul who will answer that call.

Sometimes what we need wins over what we want. Our pride never wants to concede in that battle of wills.

There’s no shame or guilt in doing the right thing for your survival. Don’t let those ugly whispers (of guilt or shame) predict how you should live ♡

If you are struggling today, please call your State Behavioral Health Crisis Line. They are professionals and are trained to listen.

What are your basics?

If you made a list, what would be on it?

What helps you feel like a human being again?

Maybe you like to brush your hair, or maybe drinking coffee in the morning does the trick. Some people must first put on lipstick, and for others, it’s saying hello to their furry friends that begins to restore their equalibrium.

Core Basics:

-Drink Water

-Eat Something

-Take your Pills

-Brush your Teeth

-Wash up

-Change Clothes

Secondary Basics:

-Move your body/Stretch

-Read something inspiring

-Call/contact a loved one

-Pray, Rest, Meditate

-Do something fun/hobby

You’ll notice, I didn’t add “Eat something healthy” because sometimes the best we can do is eat anything at all. After you have fed your stomach, hydrated thoroughly, and you’ve taken your meds and/or vitamins, make sure to feed your soul.

Feeding my soul is just as nourishing as feeding my body. If all I set my eyes and heart on is social media and television for a week, I can’t be surprised if I’m feeling nervous and low by the end of the week. I love the term “Inspirationalizing” as an active verb. We have to go out of our way to find uplifting articles for hope, books and quotes by our role models for wisdom, seeking out words of wisdom from your faith for guidance.

What ways do you like to feed your soul?

Since my divorce, I have overhauled my self care. In a relationship, you each have a schedule and you’re attuned to the other person’s needs. They know you, and are able to remind you of your needs- you lean on one another, and develop patterns. These habits and patterns had become  engrained over 15 years. But patterns can be changed- and self care is a pattern that we all have to develop.

As I continue adjusting to my single life, in time, I’ve learned to check in with myself with as much effort as I would have my spouse. Having a schedule of sorts helps, and prioritising is especially important for me. In the beginning, the transition was especially difficult. It took time. If you are facing a transition, give yourself time… Things will find their place again. Please don’t neglect your well being in the mean time.

Whichever self care step you’re struggling with, find a way to make it easier on you to accomplish. For instance, if washing your hair has become your arch nemesis, then get creative. Maybe it’s due to chronic pain in your arm, or a slow healing back surgery. In that case, keep a bottle of no-rinse shampoo handy. Keep it with you at all times so you can do your hair washing at the times you feel able.

Similarly, if it’s tooth brushing that you can’t seem to fit in twice each day, know that you’re not alone and don’t be ashamed. Get creative.

There are plenty of solutions to make your personal care work for your special needs and your unique schedule.

What are some goals you have on your self care list?

What self care would you like to set as a priority for yourself this year?

This Day doesn’t belong to This Pain

You have every right to say that your days are bad from diagnosis onward. Pain roars and screams and spreads and bites down. It truly touches every part of our lives, and tries to destroy all that it touches.

But you are not your body. You are more than flesh and bone.

You have the power to tell your story the way you want it heard.

You don’t have to choose whether your days are black or white, either good or bad. This isn’t a multiple choice test between succeeding or failing.

We are all striving to find balance every day, moving forward despite our circumstances, seeking our best selves.

That is a victory.

The ‘Shame’ of Chronic Illness and Pain

Brene Brown says that, “if we speak our shame, then it begins to wither.” This writer who suffers a similar condition as I, has written so openly and powerfully on the vulnerability of illness. This is a revelation, and a battle cry. Please read to the end.
(Trigger Warning)

Radical Hope.

CJIfWeSpeakShame.jpgShame derives its power from being unspeakable….
If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it,
we’ve basically cut it off at the knees.
Shame hates having words wrapped around it.
If we speak shame, it begins to wither.”

Brené Brown

Over the summer, I read Brené Brown’s fabulous book Daring Greatly. The book follows her famous TED Talk on vulnerability that previously inspired me to write on the power of vulnerability.

The full title of the book is Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead. It encourages us to dare to be honest about who we really are, rather than trying to hide our weakness. It teaches that vulnerability helps us to live more wholeheartedly and to connect more with others, as well as helping us to overcome the destructive burden of…

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An Open Letter to the Doctor Who Gave up on Me

I know I’ve already published 2 new blog posts today, but I have to share this incredible post by a newer blogger I’ve been following. I know everyone with a chronic illness will relate.

Life with an illness

Dear Doctor,

Before I start, I want you to know I’m not even mad. You’re not the first or probably the last to turn over my case. The moment that you gave me the pity look, and said “you will never get better, you will have a feeding tube the rest of your life, and I can’t help you.” Tears immediately welled up in my eyes, and my stomach sank to my feet. That was the worst feeling, when you gave up on me. 

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My Brain is Lost: Brain Fog…Again

I have been a zombie since the holidays. I feel like my brain slipped out among the Christmas gift wrap, and I’m still looking for it. Thankfully today I can string a few words together, but it’s still not good. The poster above is my great accomplishment for today. I hope it makes you smile.

I’ve been asked by my doctors in the past why I don’t like to take “enough” pain medication to really get my pain under control. But, it’s exactly this glazed over, cloudy-headed feeling I’m trying to avoid. 

There’s a fine line between managing pain and taking so much medication that my brain absolutely can’t function. But, it means that my pain will always be on top of me. It’s something I accepted a long time ago. 

The truth is, I need my mind. I need to have conversations. I need to write. I need to connect with people I care for. I need to be creative. I may be in too much pain to move, but I need my mind to continue being me. 

Because of severe Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, low blood pressure, Chronic Fatigue, and the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/RSD now attacking my brain, it feels as though my brain cells go to sleep for long periods. It’s the settling in of a brain fog cloud that curls up in your head and decides it’s not leaving. 

So I fight. I take my vitamins. I do deep breathing. I struggle to have conversations even though most of the time the other person has to guess what on earth I’m talking about. Words won’t come. I fight by playing word games on my phone. I fight by trying to write articles that never make it to the blog. I fight by moving more. By moving less. By eating better. By drinking more water. Take less medication. Take more again. By doing something creative. I try to learn something new…if I could only think, think, think! 

Brain Fog always causes me depression. Maybe it’s because my neurons aren’t firing. Yes, that makes sense of course. Or maybe it’s the sheer frustration of the thing. 

I envision the CRPS/RSD eating away at my brain. Just like it has atrophied my leg. Just like it has bitten a large chunk out of my left arm. I should stop envisioning that image, but that’s exactly what it feels like. Parts of me are slipping away, no matter what I try to do. 

With every bad pain flare that attacks my head, I feel a little less like myself. Am I fading or becoming someone new? 

Are we the zombies in the zombie apocalypse? The brain-fogged following the bright quick-witted around for a great conversation? It’s not brains we’re drooling for… It’s stimulation, laughter, the kindness of another person, compassion, something interesting to wake the atrophied pieces of our pain-addled minds. 

That’s not a kind depiction of myself, but it feels that way when my body and mind are playing tug of war between flight and fight. Even though the meds may not have done it, I suppose my mind has flown from the suffering on its own. Maybe my brain isn’t lost after all. Maybe she has simply run away. 

3 Uplifting Quotes for your New Year

Happy New Year! These are 3 beautiful quotes I would love to start my year with. Especially while I’m really struggling, finding uplifting, peaceful messages helps me get from one day to the next. It’s especially during these times, our souls need feeding. I hope these quotes might help you today as well- with whatever you may be battling. 

It’s a nice reminder that all of our every day tasks matter. As my friend told me a couple weeks ago, all things we do can be ways for us to worship. 

 

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but great deeds. To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Quote by Christian D. Larson

 

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

Quote by Hermann Hesse 

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

 Quote by Helen Keller

The HIV/AIDS Crisis changes Healthcare for Chronic Illness Patients

World Aids Day 2017

So much progress has been made for a killer autoimmune disease/infection/virus that was once surrounded by so much prejudice and misinformation.

Healthcare was far out of reach. Doctors did not seem to understand. The public turned their backs. 

Meanwhile men, women, children, and infants were infected, without care, suffering and passing away. 

So much has changed in a relatively short period of time. Still, there’s a long way to go, especially internationally.

Maybe you have a chronic pain condition and feel as though doctors, society, and family have singled you out as a drug addict. Maybe you’re being denied treatment. We continue seeing our own friends in pain pass away due to lack of care… Or if you’re a rare disease survivor and are feeling hopeless about the healthcare situation at hand, please keep this hope in front of you.

If the HIV/AIDS community could create a revolution for themselves in the midst of such a horrific crisis, please keep hope alive that we can also. But we can only do change the system if we stay united.

#worldaidsday #hivawarenessday #raredisease #rarediseaseday #sicklivesmatter

#yourstoryisnotoveryet 

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