The Woman in Room Number Three by Karen Brown
Jesus I asked, would You please make me well, so I can find a new place to dwell,
Could You please heal my body, show me the way, I’m willing to do whatever You say.
Jesus I asked, could I just use one arm, this alone would work like a charm
To give me a life with so much less strife.
Oh Jesus, I asked, could You help me today to realize Your power in a whole new way?
Then Jesus responded, He answered me sure, showing me something I’d not seen before…
“My child I love you more than you know, and I’ve called you to be where no one will go,
In a place where I want My presence to show;
You see when you gave Me your life on that wonderful day,
I already had you walking the way that would reach those people who I wanted to touch;
How else will they know that I love them so much?
So smile your smile,
let them see My Life,
shown glowing in the midst of your strife;
And Oh My Child, you will very soon see, that you’ll be dancing with Me… for eternity.”
Thank you so much for giving your permission to share, author Karen Brown, and a special thank you to Nancy Belz.
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 ❤
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
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.
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.
~It’s the love that hurts the most~
Is that you?
Is that your voice I heard whispering to me last night?
In a dream,
In a nightmare,
In a moment, I felt you again.
I rolled around in the sticky sickly pieces of our past.
I awoke covered in your aftermath.
Threatened by your promises,
Violence to my heart,
The remnants of our love still cut me,
Shards slice through my consciousness,
Ripping me apart.
Portrait by Hypnotic Teapot, Etsy
~The Liar Inside~
There is this voice. It whispers. (It screams.)
It tells you that you have fallen too far.
There is no returning from these hits.
It tells you that someone else would have handled this path better.
Braver. Tougher. Smarter.
Someone else would not have lost so much. Someone else would not have allowed themselves to fall…this far.
She tells you that you are a burden. A vampire.
Selfish. Helpless. Unworthy.
She tells you that if you disappeared…no one would grieve for you.
She has a voice and she has eyes. She shows you how others might see you: Pathetic. Weak. Alone.
This voice is a liar.
She lives in the home of everyone.
She sneaks in through the window of your mother and father.
She sings you hateful songs about others. She sings you hurtful songs about yourself.
Satan is an angel. Nickname: “the great deceiver.”
Silence her deception with love, service, worship, gratitude.
Silence her deception with truth:
You are loved.
You are strong.
You are worthy.
You are made in the image of God.
You are SO unbelievably beautiful!
You can face this day fiercely and boldly!
And you are not alone.
~a Body of Hope
Custom image by Portrait Artist, Hypnotic Teapot on Etsy. She creates stunning, unique color and pencil portraits of you, your friends, and your pets at an affordable price. I have ordered custom artwork from her and can vouch for her professionalism and amazing artistry. Go buy a gift your loved one will never forget! #ValentinesDay
My sister asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday last year. I told her that if I had been well enough, I would’ve wanted to invite friends over to make sandwiches to bring to hungry area children. I used to do this type of thing in high school sometimes, and last year fantasized that it might make for a unique summer birthday gathering that my friends would like to participate in (being my awesome friends). I was really only thinking out loud, and then asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday (since our birthdays fall inside the same week).
When my birthday came around, I went to stay at my parent’s for the week. On the day of my birthday, my family gave me a small photo album filled with pictures of smiling children. “How cute…What is this?” I asked, curious what my family was up to. My parents and sister had arranged to spend the day volunteering for a back to school program called Give a Kid a Chance which prepares underprivileged children for the coming school year. My family donated goods, packed backpacks and checked little heads for lice. They spent their entire Saturday volunteering for this wonderful program in honor of my birthday!!!! I was crying, they were crying, we were all emotional as they shared the details of the day. It is absolutely one of the most heartfelt and most humbling gifts I had ever received, (which others received) and I know I will never forget their beautiful selfless gesture.
When my mom explained why they did it, she said, “Volunteer work has always been such a big part of who you are. After you couldn’t help in the community any more, you turned your attention to caring for people online. Your sister told us what you would have wanted to do for your birthday, so we did this because you would have been doing this if you could have.”
I didn’t realize how much I needed a wake up call until that moment. I felt like a doorbell was being rung to the door of my soul that a warrior part of me had to close in order to stay alive. To fight the illness, I had to know my enemy, and get in the trenches with him. But the price was that a piece of me had to be shrouded away, protected in that way, while I fought through the very worst of it. My family didn’t know how much I desperately NEEDED this reminder of my core, of who I am.
No one had spoken of my former self out loud in what felt like years. Their gracious act and words were like an unlocking spell. Something awakened inside of me on that birthday that started a transformation- which is still in progress. I am so thankful and fortunate for them, for having the ability to see the good in who I am now, and for never forgetting the person I have always been.
I woke up the following morning with this poem trickling from my brain:
In the time and space between
dark rooms and restless painful nights,
you might have time to count
too many stains on the paint.
The time between forgotton breaths
may have left you wondering
who you used to be.
Did the air sneak your old life out?
Under the door?
Through the cracks in the floor?
Like Russian dolls,
the top one falls:
And mama sweeps it away.
Those who recall that ghost,
tip toe beside the host of the demon.
They bring pieces of the past,
until at last you remember.
The apparition waits outside.
Now, you can smell her perfume.
There are times during the fight that we must lay down our old lives and find a way to nurture today, without looking back or too far ahead. But I’ve also learned that reminders of your past can boost your spirit in the midst of a struggle. Wherever you are in your journey, I hope you have someone in your life who sees the strength in you and reminds you of it.
Blooming Beauty is by one of my favorite artists: Peggy Wolf. Check out her gallery on Etsy, you’ll love her as much as I do.
She’ll Always be Baby to Him
He walks through the door to a woman on the floor. She’s sick now, and he never knows who he’ll be coming home to. The house was built with children in mind. They left a life of adventure behind to save and to plan ahead for a wonderful family instead.
She was still a girl when the illness took hold. But neither of them let go of their goals. And they kept looking on to a brighter tomorrow when all of thier visions would come into view.
More health concerns, the bills piled high, the doctors said she’ll get worse through the rest of her life. And the dreams that once made them laugh were fading into thier past.
Oh, but the one hope that they couldn’t ignore was to start a family so they prayed to the Lord. But her body took a terrible turn- the house went dark- their last dream (like her pain)- it was burned.
They believed that their love would always survive, but the emptiness was an angry kind that filled the corners of their home with doubt. Without the promise of a little one, dreaming just didn’t seem much fun for the couple who had survived everything–until this.
Now a grown woman is like his child and she wonders if taking care of her will drive him wild, but she keeps on praying love will see them through. The loss they mourn is another Chronic Pain that they must both endure, but Hope and Love they cling to just like glue.
-A Body of Hope
This striking image is courtesy of artist Brett Williams. “Isole” is one of Brett’s chalk works. Please visit one of his pages to purchase an original piece for your home or a gift.
If you have ever been to a church where they still sing occasional hymns, then your heart has been uplifted by the works of Fanny Crosby. She was a blind woman, an activist, a writer, poet, teacher, humanitarian, and possibly, a chronic illness and depression survivor. Even though she made history by writing nearly 10,000 hymns- more praise songs than any other person, many don’t know the story behind this incredible woman and survivor.
Shortly after her birth in 1820, fever from a common cold caused swelling in Fanny’s eyes. The treatment the doctors used trying to bring down the swelling caused permanent, irreversible blindness. Fanny never resented that doctor, and later, wrote a poem about her blindness being her gift.
Growing up, Fanny was a spirited happy child, despite living in darkness. Her family had roots in the Puritan religion and her grandmother put an emphasis on her Bible education. Young Fanny took an interest in music and creative writing, and she wrote her first poem at age 8. You can already see her early knack for rhyme and rhythm:
Oh what a happy soul I am!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t!
After she graduated college, Fanny spoke at multiple campaigns to raise awareness for blindness education, she was a speaker in front of Congress for political legislation, and she even befriended Grover Cleveland! Even though she had gained popularity in her political writing, was a noted speaker, and was becoming a recognized poet (lovingly called “the blind poet”), in time, she said that she felt an emptiness in this work. This is when Fanny Crosby began focusing more on her spiritual path and writing hymns and praise poems which have touched so many hearts.
She shifted her focus to helping others as she sought a more meaningful life serving the Lord. Just like when she was younger and volunteered teaching blind prison inmates, Fanny set out to help at homeless shelters and was a regular patron at missions all over New York City. Her heart was with those less fortunate; she gained a new type of prominence among a different class of people for being a compassionate, caring soul during a harsh time in America. When Cholera broke out in New York City, she turned her focus to caring for the sick and worked tirelessly at the hospital near her home in Brooklyn. She was very passionate about this effort and many of her songs are inspired by this period in her life.
Fanny and her husband had one child, a daughter, who tragically died in infancy from Typhoid Fever. One of her most popular hymns, Safe in the Arms of Jesus was written just after the passing of her daughter:
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul doth rest.
After losing their only child, her husband became a recluse. Fanny began spending most of her time in the church and wrote the majority of her hymns and Christian poems with her minister and often, her co-writer. Over and over, there are records of Fanny not feeling well, being “depressed,” worn down, and having to take time away for health matters. It seems as though this was a regular occurrence over the course of her career. Saying she had a Chronic Illness or a depressive disorder is just conjecture, but it does appear that she dealt with ongoing health and emotional struggles throughout her life. Nevertheless, she held tight to her faith and was a constant source of inspiration to those in her life. Through her encouragement in helping others less fortunate and sharing her very personal poems about her spiritual walk with the Lord, Fanny was always willing to give of herself. She STILL is a source of encouragement and hope to anyone who sings or reads one of her writings.
Fanny Crosby’s blindness did not hold her back from pursuing her passions and using the gifts she was given. She once said that she was happy to be blind so that the first sight she would ever see would be the face of her Savior in Heaven [para]. She had so many hurdles in life beyond her impaired vision, but she continued her writing and always sought out new ways she could be a blessing to others in need of help. She made history with her words. Through her music, she continues to open hearts, and through her lyrics, souls come alive. She is an inspiration to me as a woman, as a writer, and as a disabled person. Fanny Crosby made history with her works of praise songs, but through her actions, she left behind a legacy of love.
Blessed Assurance (Chorus)
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior
~Fire Brick Road~
Down this yellow brick road of fire and pain
There are things that you’ll learn and there’s knowledge you’ll gain.
You learn people prefer when you’re funny instead
Of telling the truth about how bad things get.
You’ll figure it out that folks get annoyed
When you tell them you’re hurting when they’re feeling joy.
If someone asks about your health facts,
You must pair each truth with a blessing you have.
Otherwise, they will think that you are pathetic,
Even though they may really seem sympathetic.
Make sure to be cautious about each complaint,
You’re “sick” now so people expect you to act like a saint!
A bit more advice as you walk the path:
You’ll subtract a few friends, so learn some quick math.
You’re just not fun like they remember,
But hang on to the ones who will love you forever.
If you are grateful, then you will do better
The things that are negative really can fester.
If someone else tries to meet a need,
It’s best to say “thanks!” and learn to receive.
This yellow brick road of fire and ice
Has more stuff like: Doctors, and money, and guilt… OH MY!
But on this road you aren’t alone
God’s with you, and others who limp it in toe.
So when you are ready just reach on out,
Someone will be here; there’s always traffic on this route.
-by A Body of Hope
Thank you to Artist Andrea for allowing her awesome Yellow Brick Road painting to be featured. Please go buy one of her unique original pieces from Etsy. Many of her paintings have the spirit of Frida Kahlo. Check them out!