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The Honest Truth

Poet Kristen Braatz Eiden shared this with us in honor of the passing of her beloved friend, and fellow poet Mary Jane Gonzales. Thank you, Kristen for sharing your beautiful and poignant poem. When I read your heartfelt poetry, it will always remind me of Jane ❤

Diary of a Clay Pot

The honest truth…
There are many things I would love to share
But wonder if you would even care

The honest truth…
We all have crosses to bare
So many burdens of past failures made aware

The honest truth…
Some things you would not want to hear
So many things that need to be made clear

The honest truth…
The pain is for real
But to many its seems unreal

The honest truth…
We all stumble and fall
We all need someone to catch our fall

The honest truth…
When we begin to realize there is no perfect here on earth
We begin to see life at its true worth

The honest truth…
Some of my worst days have become my best
There is truly hope in the unrest

The honest truth…
I would not be where I am today
Without every pain and heartache of yesterday

The honest truth…

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“Rock of Ages” poem by Mary Jane Gonzales

ROCK OF AGES
Father, I am sinking.
Would you throw to me a rope?
Would you please confirm the scripture
That I’m never without hope?
Would you strengthen me in spirit
As I trod this rocky road?
Would you bear for me the burden
That is such a heavy load?
Would you wipe away the tears
That keep falling from my eyes?
Would you lovingly send mercy
When you hear my anguished cries?
Would you not let pain consume me
Taking focus out of prayer?
Would you be my rock of ages
Greater than my worldly care?

-Copyright Mary Jane Gonzales

(PSALM 91:1,14 Inspiration verses)

 

Today we honor author, poet, and chronic pain advocate Mary Jane Gonzales by reading her poetry, as her family and friends gather to pay tribute to her at her Celebration of Life service. Her poetry was actually her prayers, as she began praying in verse after her illness struck nearly 30 years ago. Jane became a Christian later in her life, and her faith was her rock and guiding light throughout her battle with the severe neurological disease Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which kept her confined to a bed through the final years. Though her body fought her daily, she used what energy she had to be a source of encouragement to others living in pain. If you would like to read one of her inspiring books, you can find her author page here where several of her books are available for download as ebooks. 

“My Only Consolation” song by Mary Jane Gonzales

 

 

“My Only Consolation”

Written by Mary Jane Gonzales

Music and Performance by Lequita Hoffpauir

Copyright 2011

 

“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

 

 

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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A Voice Unheard: Author Interview with Chronic Pain advocate, Jane Gonzales

I am so happy to welcome, author, poet, blogger, and advocate for the chronic pain community, Mary Jane Gonzales!

I was given the great honor of being asked to contribute a piece for her book, A Voice Unheard. After reading it in its entirety, I immediately asked Ms. Gonzales for an interview! I know it will impact every reader, disabled and abled alike.

Congratulations on publishing your 10th book, A Voice Unheard  

You have very generously allowed your powerful poetry to be shared here on a Body of Hope in the past, but this is your first interview here. I’m excited! Shall we begin? 

 

1. Did you do anything special to celebrate your 10th book release? or Do you have a traditional book completion ritual?

Well, it’s funny you would ask, because you had asked me that previously and my answer was no (I wasn’t planning anything special). But it started me thinking that this is a special time that will never come again. So, with your inspiration, I decided to have an event on Facebook. As to a “traditional book completion ritual”, my response would be “breathe”! 

2. How long have you been living with chronic illness? Would you mind sharing a little about your diagnosis?

This summer will be thirty-one years that I’ve had RSD, but it was undiagnosed for eighteen years.

 

 

 

3. Aside from writing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

My pastimes would be reading, writing and crafting (especially, card making and scrap booking).

 

4. It’s clear you have a talent for soul stirring, magnetic writing, but why are you passionate to write for the chronic illness audience?

Because that’s where I live; in a community with others like me, who understand me and don’t see me as “different” or “weird”. Plus, I want them/ others to know they are not alone and they are not crazy, which is how this syndrome can make you feel.

 

5. How was compiling A Voice Unheard different from writing a book like In the Blink of an Eye?

Well In the Blink of An Eye was a personal memoir written about me, and A Voice Unheard was written about  a community/ involving members of  the community. I found that to be a bit scary, actually.

Another difference between the two is that, when I wrote In the Blink of An Eye, I had already dealt with the issues and was reconciled to the situation. But that was not the case for where I was at when I wrote A Voice Unheard. And, for that reason, I couldn’t do it justice. I had the inspiration but I couldn’t write it in a way that would honor God. Therefore, it took me a year to write it, which is ironic because it’s one of my shortest books. Compiling the stories was easy and exciting because every story fit perfectly with what I myself had written. When that happens, you know it was meant to be!

Another difference would be that every book I had written prior had the stories first; then, the chapter titles later. With A Voice Unheard, all the chapter titles were inspired first and the stories came later.

  

6. How would you describe your personal writing process?

(For example, are you research driven, logistic, intuitive, spiritually moved, or other. Please explain.)

I think I’m all of these things to a degree, but, above all, spiritually moved. I can’t just pick a topic to write about. I have to be inspired, in order to write.


7. What is your favorite part of being an author?

My favorite part of being an author is the feeling I get when the inspiration is flowing. I also enjoy editing, which is probably an understatement, since I’m drawn/gravitate to it.

What is your least favorite part of being an author? 

My least favorite part is marketing i.e. self promotion.

8. In your new book, you described the world we live in today as “a microwave society.” This is a great terminology! For those who haven’t yet read your book, can you explain your meaning, and how this current mentality effects chronic illness survivors and our loved ones?

What I meant was, in our society, we want everything quick. We don’t want to wait for anything. So if someone gets sick or injured, and it continues, there’s no patience or tolerance for a lack of healing.

9. In A Voice Unheard, you share very personal accounts from fellow chronic illness sufferers. Why did you go out of your way to bring these stories into the light?

Because they need to be told!

 

10. In your new book, you cover practical but serious topics such as the importance of quality care giving, which you are always a strong advocate for, and you discuss hot-button subjects like pain management. Why did you feel this book was important to write now?

Because I feel the issues are critical and what’s happening is wrong. It’s one thing to have a problem, it’s another thing to have no voice, no say in the situation.

I wrote it now because I couldn’t be silent anymore.

11. Other than those who live with chronic pain and chronic illness, who else do you hope reads A Voice Unheard, and why?

I hope it is read by all. The disabled, to feel supported. The abled, to be made aware. Ultimately, to make a difference.

A Voice Unheard is available for your Nook, tablet, or download as PDF ebook at Smashwords.  



Interview was first published April, 2016

A Legacy to Remember: Mary LaBree RSD / CRPS Activist

The 15th of October, a very beloved, beautiful soul and long-time health activist, Mary LaBree passed away due to complications from RSD/CRPS. Here, one of her best friends, Mary Jane Gonzales shares a heartfelt poem with us along with the late Mary LaBree’s story. This was originally posted on the RSD/CRPS awareness Facebook page: In the Blink of an Eye.

******

By Poet/Author, Mary Jane Gonzales:

“With this being RSD/CRPS Awareness Month, I’d like to begin the month by acknowledging the work of Mary LaBree who is no longer with us. Mary shared a small part of her story with us in September for Chronic Pain Awareness, but was reserving the bulk of her story for an impending book. For those of you who missed her post back in September, you can read it below. Though it offers just a glimpse at her story, I would like to highlight some of her accomplishments that I know of. Her and her daughter’s RSD Support Group was the second support group in the country, and the first to get a state proclamation (back in 1990). She founded the New England RSD Coalition, whose function was to serve and educate: through support, seminars and fund raising. She held teaching seminars with well known doctors; collaborating with them over many years. She was a strong advocate for RSD awareness, and a key figure in the RSD community. Even recently, she was asked to speak at a conference, but had to decline for health reasons.

Before I repeat her post from September, I’d like to share a poem I wrote for her a few months ago for her intended book.

A HELPER AND ADVOCATE

A soldier, a warrior,
A patient with tears,
A helper and advocate
For so many years.
Reaching and touching
All that she could,
To help them endure
What no one should.
Searching for answers,
Seeking a cure,
For her and her family,
And all who suffer
This dreaded disease
Called RSD…
Her reason for working
So tirelessly.

Poem Copyright Mary Jane Gonzales

*******

A Legacy to Remember: RSD/CRPS Activist Mary LaBree

My Chronic Pain Story
by Mary LaBree

“I became aware of RSD in the mid 80’s when I went with my daughter to the pain clinic where she had been diagnosed with RSD. Then, about a year or so later, when I got hurt and fractured my spine, my daughter said she thought I had RSD also. So she took me to the same clinic, to see her doctor, and I, too, was diagnosed with RSD.

After that, I went into treatment and it took four years for me to get better. Along with Post Galvanic Stimulation, which helped me a lot, some other treatments I’ve had include:

Medication
Nerve blocks
Physical therapy
Aquatic Therapy
Acupuncture
Chiropractic
Alphalipoic Acid (IV)
Reiki
Radio Frequency Ablation

Though all the treatments have helped, none have been long lasting. As you all know, RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), now known as CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) has periods of worsening, be it flares or spreads. I was fifty years old when I got RSD. I am now seventy eight. In those twenty eight years with RSD/CRPS, I have alternated between walking unassisted, walking with a walker, and using a powerchair.

In the late 1980’s, my daughter and I started “RSD Support Group”. We were the 2nd support group in the country, and the 1st to get a state proclamation (back in 1990). It was the Massachusetts State Proclamation and we’ve gotten one every year since. We chose the color red and the month of July because July is considered the Freedom Month.

Later, my daughter moved out of state and she passed the support group onto me alone. In 1997, a colleague who came up for the July “Proclamation Awards Ceremony” approached me to form an organization, which was named the New England RSD Coalition. For all these years, the function of the coalition has been to serve and educate; through support, seminars and fund raising.

I have learned much over the years with Chronic Illness. I have learned to research all that I can about this disease which has affected eight people in my family…which was devastating and heart wrenching. I have learned to advocate for both awareness and patients. I have learned things that I can do to help myself beyond medical treatments, such as:

exercise
warm baths
sitting in the sun
a positive spirit
~and~
GIVING

Helping and doing for others is my “secret” for living with RSD, or just plain living!”

-Mary LaBree

******

Mary LaBree left a lasting imprint on the chronic pain and RSD/CRPS community. She is one of the first chronic pain health activists. Without her dedication in clearing a path, so many of us would still be suffering in the dark. Mary LaBree’s commitment to her cause shows that life does not end with chronic illness; she made her battle her life’s work. Thank you, Mary LaBree. 

**Also read In Memory of Mary LaBree- An Original RSD Advocate from RSDAdvisory, a personal account of a long and loving friendship with Mary.  

Since Mary’s passing on October 15th, very sadly, more RSD/CRPS angels have been lost. We honor them all by raising awareness about the seriousness of this disease. Our hearts and prayers go out to their friends and families.

For a non-fatal disease, far too many don’t survive.

Do you have a story to tell? Submit yours for a book

My friend, poet, writer/author Mary Jane Gonzales is collecting submissions for a new book, and you are invited! If you aren’t familiar with her work, Mary Jane Gonzales is well-known in the chronic pain community for her books like In the Blink of an Eye, Trial and Triumph, and Poetic Devotions for Those in Pain, among her other books which you can view here at Barnes and Noble. I love to share her poetry here on my blog as her work is always genuine and powerful. I hope you will consider submitting a chapter of your own life for her upcoming book.

From the author: “This is a book I am working on, about situations in life where our voice is/was not heard. If you have a story to tell, that you would like included in the book, I am still accepting submissions and would love to hear from you. Stories can be 1-3 pages in length, on any subject that relates to this topic. Whether for awareness or encouragement, the goal is for the book to help others; as, often times, we feel alone in our struggle and hearing other people’s stories can help. Because I am bearing all the cost of publication and because my books are priced very affordably, there will be no monetary compensation for your story, just the satisfaction you receive. All stories and questions should be sent to mgonzales182@comcast.net . Thank you.”

You can also follow Mary Jane Gonzales on Facebook or on her blog

Praying: Can You Hear Me Now?

My prayer life was intermittent and too comfortable before, but my prayer life changed when my illness journey began. I first prayed prayers for the doctors to figure out what was going on to cause so much pain. Then praying was like a fight with God. Please don’t let this be true God! Why is this happening? Is this my punishment? I’m sorry…Oh God, please forgive me!

Then my prayers were angry. Why God!? Why would you do this? Why would you take my body?

Then I would cry out to Him: I can’t do this! Please rescue me from this torture! This is more than I can bear…

Then I felt alone: Where are you? You said you would never leave me. I’m in the depths here, and you’ve abandoned me.

That’s when faith was most important. Praying even when it felt futile and empty and intangible. Just kept it up into the chasm of silence.

This is extremely personal to share. I stayed in that state of feeling alone for a long time. It was then that I learned more about being a Christian somehow. Feeling very alone away from the Lord’s warmth and in incredible pain tested my faith like never before.

God can handle our anger and pain; God is big and strong and can manage the weight of all we throw at Him. Even when we don’t feel Him, it’s important to remember faith isn’t an emotion. Faith is not FEELING- it’s much more. There are times you CAN feel God and times you cannot. It doesn’t make God any more powerful the times you FEEL like being a Christian.

God is working in your life whether you see it or not. That’s what I mean. I continued choosing to believe that. That’s what faith is. And comfort did come with it.

They say God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I think we are handed more than we can bear sometimes and we are forced to ask for help through it.

Later in my illness, more recently, in fact, I suffered injury to my brain and spinal cord causing me excruciating unexplained constant deep brain pain for years. I could barely talk or write or move. My thoughts were not processing. I could not scream at God. I could not sob and throw things because of my pain and anger. I could not go to church or put prayers together like I had learned to do all of my life.

Yes, I still communed with God. Without words I connected through my heart, through my feelings, through my pain even. I knew I was being heard. I believe it. It gives me a different idea about how the Lord listens to ALL of His children, no matter the age or handicap. God does not need proper language to connect with us. More pain, more alone, more vulnerable than ever before. But I didn’t feel apart from God, I felt great comfort and peace- more than ever before in my life.

Romans 8:26 says- “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Wordless Groans… This is a passage I happened upon last week. It confirms for me that my voice was certainly heard in my most downward state of helplessness. One doesn’t need to memorize special prayers from a church to be able to pray or to know exactly what you are praying for. It’s all right there inside of you- He gets it. Making the choice to connect with God is on you, but He has been listening all along.

*****

~WHEN THIS THING OVERTAKES ME~

God, can you hear the brainwaves,

The silent thoughts, desires and fears?

God, do you see me slipping

From peace and trust to unrest and tears?

God, can you give assurance

To not be out of touch

When this thing overtakes me

And life becomes too much?

God, what will happen

When I’ve lost every hope,

When I have no ability

How then will I cope?

-by Mary Jane Gonzales

From her beautiful book: Poetic Devotions for Those in Pain

******************************************

Mary Jane Gonzales wrote: “Thank you for this glorious post, for articulating the mystery of prayer and faith so eloquently. As I read about your journey, I was right there with you, relating to each step along the way; understanding the emotions, knowing the outcome; and joyous at the tapestry being woven. “

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