Does Suffering Give Us Super Powers?

There is a line in the movie, Split, where the Beast says, “the broken are more evolved” and he spares the girl’s life because he tells her, “your heart is pure.

This got me thinking about how I believe there is strength in suffering. Struggles, trials, and suffering are abundant in this life. If we think of our struggles as JUST difficulties to get through or to avoid, we miss the lessons and strength they can give us–even here in this fallen world.

The psychiatrist in the movie says that she believes those with this disorder are stronger than others and she illustrates by saying some are blind, but one of their personalities is able to see. The Beast goes through certain things in the movie and doesn’t get hurt when he most certainly should have.

Of course, this is a movie and not real life. However, I’ve found that the different kind of strength spoken of in this movie is spoken of in the Bible and reflected in my own lifetime of experiences with chronic illness and other difficult situations.

I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating here. I once had a mammogram technician ask me if I’d been through a lot of struggle in my life. I admitted I had and asked her why. She told me that she’d noticed that people who have been through a lot in their lives are much less vocal about the difficulties with the whole mammogram experience, are more empathetic, and tend to be more compassionate .

The movie, Split, shows us that suffering gives you super powers and I maintain it does! Just not the kind in the movie. And my belief is backed by scripture as I’ll get into in a minute. My purpose for sharing this is to help those of you who struggle with chronic issues, especially those who can’t see a purpose in it, so that you might have a change of perspective from victim (or just a survivor) to a more heroic picture of someone who moves beyond surviving to inspire and lift up others.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Here are some ways in which the Bible tells us we gain by suffering:

Empathy: 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Peter 4:10  “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Strength of character: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

Appreciation for Joy (and ability to find joy and humor in dark places): Galations 6:3 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Perseverance: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

I talked a little about this in the beginning of this blog post, but

Why is it that God allows some of us to struggle so with things? I believe these scriptures answer that quite eloquently:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I believe that, ultimately, our sinful worldly existence will end and we’ll be with the Lord forever. Until then, our mission is to share the hope that is in Him and live by Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”

If we truly love others as we love ourselves, we will have some super powers of understanding if we allow all our struggles and trials to strengthen us.

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…And I’m Still Writing!

Have you ever heard of people who were, say, an artist who lost her sight? Or a singer who lost his voice? Or an athlete who lost the use of his legs?

Sometimes, that talent or skill God gave you is tested or challenged by the difficulties here on earth. Sometimes that test isn’t something that can be overcome as much as changed in form.

That football player can find purpose in coaching young kids who don’t have a father figure in their home. That singer can find her music in a piano. That artist can find expression in the artistry that is dance. And sometimes that disability can be overcome to allow the artist to continue. That is what God has allowed me to do with my writing.

When I was a child, I loved writing. I wrote all the time, but I never let anyone read what I wrote for fear it wasn’t good enough. Truth be told, it wasn’t but I was only about nine when I started. With more encouragement, I might have begun to share my writing to reach more people much earlier in life. But, I did keep writing and I got better and more public with it each year.

I have often had to prolong my writing due to fatigue from various chronic illnesses, but it didn’t stop me from writing. It only delayed the finished products a bit, but I kept writing.

Later on when brain fog from insomnia made it hard to put two sentences together, I began writing one liners I call JoJoisms. One of my Facebook memories reminded me that:

JoJoism #493 “Being a writer with brain fog is easier when you write one liners. You only need to focus for a sentence or two!” JoJoisms: Revealing Life’s Truths…as I think of ‘em!

When I started writing my communication materials for Art of Eloquence, I had no idea how to get my books traditionally published so I decided to publish them on my own website! And then when I wasn’t able to print them myself, I found a local printer who only worked with large companies and talked them into taking me on at their same rates even though I was not printing nearly the amount they were used to dealing with. And I was still writing!

Self publishing meant I had to create my own website even though I was the quintessential NON Techie! It took me a while and many, MANY hours of a frustrating learning curve, but I taught myself how to create websites and update them as I needed. And I was still writing!

In my writing for Art of Eloquence, I was asked to speak at several online and offline events. I’ve been shouted down for my beliefs and what I write. I was even told by a public school administrator that she would buy my materials for the entire school district if I’d only, “take the God parts out.” I refused and was forced to work harder and longer to sell my materials mostly to Christian homeschoolers, but I was still writing!

After I broke my hand in a car accident, I had to retrain myself to type because my middle finger now crosses over my ring finger as I make a fist. Unfortunately, writing requires muscle memory and I had to retrain myself to put my middle finger a bit further right when I type. It took me about a year, but I’m still writing!

As I got older my fingers began aching as I typed. I learned I had arthritis and neuropathy compounded by fibro, but I powered through and took breaks when I needed to. And I was still writing!

The last several years has seen an increase in censorship of Christian conservatives as social media began shutting us down. I had a whole year when my Facebook fan pages were all effectively shut down, but I kept on writing on my personal wall and on my blogs. After I regained control of my pages, I am now sharing those posts on my respective fan pages again anyway!

Four years ago, I was granted a miracle in that I was a cancer survivor before even my surgeons knew I could have cancer. It was a rare and aggressive kind, but God allowed me to survive and I’m still writing!

A couple years ago, my hands began shaking more than just when I was hungry. I was diagnosed with Essential Tremors which makes typing, writing, and reading what I typed or wrote even harder. And I’m still writing!

When God gives you a passion for something, a talent for something, and then life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you pivot and find another way to satisfy your desire for that type of expression. And sometimes He gives you the perseverance and determination to find new ways to keep going.

That’s what the Lord did for me…And I’m still writing!

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When You Don’t Think You Measure Up

God made us unique individuals, but as a kid, I was always trying to fit in. It never worked and it was exhausting! I never thought I was good enough, tall enough, __ enough.


My hair was stick straight when big curly hair was in fashion. Now, when straight hair is in, mine is curly on steroids!


I’m 5’ nuthin’ and wear children’s size shoes, gloves, and I just fit back into my dd’s old size 10/12 children’s T-shirt! 🤗


My first car came complete with bucket seats and a telephone book. (Yup! I sat on a telephone book so I could see over the steering wheel!) And my kitchen stove has a matching step stool so I can stir the tall pots. 😉


You know what I learned from all this? To embrace my inner weirdness. (Hat tip to my dd who coined the phrase) You know what? Ever since then, I enjoy being me!

If you always feel like you don’t measure up, try looking at yourself as God does. He created you to be you – not a copy of someone else. Embrace YOUR inner weirdness and enjoy being who He created you to be!

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Weird Stuff and Thankfulness!

As many of you know, I’m a pretty odd duck. Weird stuff has happened to me just about all my life. Sometimes that’s made for difficult times. Sometimes it’s been a blessing in disguise.


Going through my Facebook memories today, I found this little story that could have ended badly but turned out to be just another unusual event in my life. Thankful to God for His blessings to me.


On this date five years ago, I was just sitting and minding my own odd business when suddenly, out of the right side corner of my eye, I saw a bunch of flashing bright white geometric shapes (mostly triangles) that formed a crescent moon. It was just below and slightly right of wherever I was looking. It was reflective and sparkly and lasted about 15 or 20 minutes making it hard for me to see beyond it. My husband was convinced I was going blind so (REALLY long story short) I was rushed to urgent care.


Drs and nurses had no idea but feared it was a retina tear or detatched retina. They suggested I see an opthomologist the next morning and explain exactly what I experienced.


It was really hard to explain what I saw. Coincidentally, I had gotten a piece of junk mail with a weird reflective sticker inside that looked exactly like what I saw so I took it with me.

After a thorough examination to rule out anything more serious, it turned out it was a painless occular migraine. Now, if you have to have a migraine, this is the kind of migraine you want! Painless is always the way to go, if at all possible! 😂


Thankful this week for God’s many blessings in my life including all of those I’m able to enjoy this year having lost 33 pounds!

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When the Lord reminds you of what He’s done for you!


Do you see that brown spot on my cheek? That’s what my OBGYN called a birthmark. No, I wasn’t born with it. My children were. 😉


When I was pregnant with my first (my dd), I developed this mark. It was on my right cheek. The doctor said it would go away after I gave birth. It didn’t.


When I was pregnant again, I developed a similar mark on my left cheek. It didn’t get as big because I wasn’t pregnant very long. I miscarried.


When I was pregnant with my son, the mark on my right side began getting bigger. Unfortunately, I had similar problems with this pregnancy and was put on bed rest.


One day when I was washing my face, I looked in the mirror and I felt as if God was speaking to me. He said, this child would be ok. The mark was on the right side. It wasn’t on the right side (meaning not left). It was on the RIGHT side (meaning not wrong!)


I felt a peace and my son was born perfectly healthy though his birth story is chock full of God’s miracles! That is a whole other story I’ll share another time.


Yesterday, I was looking at myself in the mirror (something I don’t mind doing now that I’ve lost 33 lbs!) and I noticed that the mark on my right cheek is almost gone. After 30 years, you almost can’t see it anymore.
However, that birth mark on my left side is still prominent. As I wondered why God would allow the mark on my right side (reminding me of my two beautiful children) to fade while leaving the left visible, it hit me!


The Lord wants to remind me of what He did for me and for my children. There’s a child I’ll see one day in heaven even though I wasn’t able to here on earth.

Through adversity, God gives us gentle reminders of His love. We can find joy in that at some point – even if not at that moment.


If you’re struggling, remember that God wants to comfort you. You’ll find peace if you look to Him.

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Weird (Miracle) Cancer Story

When you have chronic illness, it’s easy to feel alone in the world because you tend to be more isolated than most people. I hope that this blog series has helped you to see yourself as a unique child of God with your own unique story.

Now that you know how truly weird I am, I have one last little bombshell to drop on you. It’s actually a miracle or series of miracles, but if you think about it miracles tend to be WEIRD, don’t they?

I didn’t even have cancer like a normal person…and I’m very grateful to God that I didn’t!

I Was a Cancer Survivor Before We Knew I Might Have Cancer:
Most people either feel sick or feel a lump and go to the doctor after which they are referred to an Oncologist who does some tests and probably performs surgery. Most or at least many, have to go through chemo and/or radiation.

Not me! Cuz I’m weird! I was a cancer survivor before even my doctors suspected I could have cancer! My diagnosis came as a result of several miracles. My doctor decided to go looking for a fibroid tumor that she knew probably wasn’t there and found a cyst on my ovary instead. During the surgery, the surgeon called an audible and decided to remove my entire fallopian tube on a whim. She said later that she just felt like she should do it because, “cancer likes to hide.”

Here’s the link to My Miracle Story with all of the odd details of how I survived a rare and aggressive cancer that, most often, takes the life of the woman.

I hope and pray that by now you’ve been able to see your weirdness less as something that isolates you and more as something that makes you, you…makes you unique. Don’t forget that miracles do happen and they are usually pretty weird! Wouldn’t you agree?

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2020 Back to Basics – Plan

All this month I’ve been getting back to basics so we can accept our chronic illness limitations, but grow through them and begin to have more joy in our lives again. I talked about the stages of grief and finding a new path that God would have for us. This week, I want to share how exactly we do that.

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

They say that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It’s never been truer than for those of us with chronic illness. It’s hard enough to plan our day with fatigue and pain. It takes a bit more to plan your life, but it is necessary.

If it’s not on my To Do List, it don’t get to done! I find it so much easier to get things done, work my plan, do what I feel God is leading me to do if it’s on a list that I can check off when I’m done.

Once you know what you’re to do in each area of your life, you can begin to make those things happen by asking yourself questions. Do you need to change doctors to get better health this year? What steps can you begin to take to earn extra income? If it’s a new job, what steps can you take to get where you need to go? What things can you do to have better communication with your spouse?

Make a commitment to keep working your plan. Write it down where you can see it, look at it each day, work toward it each day. Having a goal and actually taking steps to move forward is what I found brought my joy back. It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s hardly ever easy. But it is worth it because it’s what God has for me and gives me purpose.

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

What is it for you? How can you take steps toward your purpose and joy?

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2020 Back to Basics – Live & grow

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

We’re getting back to basics this month. That old saying, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” never sat well with me. I’ve shared this before, but if our tunnel is chronic, it usually doesn’t end this side of heaven. That means we have to find the light inside our tunnel and last week we began that process by talking about the five stages of grief as it applies to those of us with chronic illness.

The five stages of grief may seem insurmountable at the time, but I’ve found that what comes next is the hardest part because once you get to acceptance, then what? What’s next? Next, you have to learn to live with it and grow through it.

This can seem impossible because you have your ideas of what life should have looked like, should have been, work you should be doing except for limitations imposed by your chronic issues. But how you allow God to mold you and change you into the life He has established for you will make all the difference.

Instead of looking at your past hopes and dreams and continuing to grieve for what will never be, I’ve found that it is far more positive and uplifting to allow God to guide me to the work he has for me in my present state. God always knew how my life would turn out. It wasn’t a surprise to Him, just to me. I figured, God created me and He has a plan for my life, so if He knew this, He must have work for me that I cannot see at this time.

The first step is to ask God for guidance and pray to hear His direction. I had been writing since I was nine years old. I had dreams of becoming a songwriter. Well, actually at that age, I had dreams of becoming a famous singer. As I grew up, my life changed and so my dreams changed. For me, they changed from writing songs to writing speech communication books to writing about chronic illness. The writing remained the same, but what I did with the talent the Lord blessed me with changed.

For you, it might be a more distinct change from something like working outside the home to selling your artwork. But it isn’t just our work life that changes when we have chronic illness. It’s every area of our lives. So…

The next step is to establish what would help you in all the areas of your life: health, family, career, and ministry. I went over this extensively in my series on Chronic Illness New Year’s Resolutions. You can click on each of those and look through those areas of your life for ideas.

After you know what you can change, adapt, and adopt in these areas of your life the final step is what I’ll be talking about next week so stay tuned!

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2020: Back to Basics

I thought I’d start off this year getting back to basics. However, in case you’re just joining me at Life Beyond Surviving here in 2020, I thought I’d start at the beginning of how and why I started this blog. I’ve always sought to be understood because I’ve never been able to fit in with the crowd. My life has always been a bit quirky. I guess you could say I’m not your average Jo…Jo!

I’ve always been different, weird if you will. So, I understand how important it is to be supported for who you are and the different circumstances you find yourself in. That is the essence of chronic illness, isn’t it? We don’t feel most people get us. Sometimes when you have been through so much you find yourself asking God why. Why me? Why so much hardship? Why can’t I just be normal?

Why? In my case, I think it’s because I can help others…and I have never been normal…

I’m only 5′ tall, wearing children’s shoes, hats, and gloves. I used to sit on a telephone book in order to see over the steering wheel.

I was born to Atheists of Jewish descent, married a nonpracticing Catholic and became a nondenominational Christian because of Amway meetings and a Jehovah’s Witness that came to my door.

I’m an older mom having had my first at 27 and my second and last child at 36. I didn’t vaccinate my son though I did my daughter. Both my kids are incredibly intelligent. My son is that as well as Autistic or what they used to call Asperger’s.

I chose to homeschool my kids and for seventeen years we fielded all sorts of questions about socialization and getting into college. In case you’re wondering, they both were able to hold their own during the inevitable inquisitions from cable guys to relatives and went on to elite universities.

I’m weird in my medical history as well. Having had Fibro since I was a teenager and several other issues shortly after giving birth to my son at 37, I’m all too familiar with the misunderstandings that chronic illness has in the general community.

In addition to Fibro, I’ve struggled with perimenopause hot flashes for over twenty years. I also have Essential Tremors, Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and I can’t even remember all the rest. In addition, I’ve had nine surgeries in my lifetime. Five of them in a 2.5 year period of time including one due to cancer.

I’ve been married 33 years. I’ve been a mom for 30 years, I homeschooled for 17 years and I’ve had chronic illnesses spanning most of my life. I have a wealth of knowledge about several topics and how to do them with chronic illness.

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. ” -Hebrews 13:16

My heart is to share my knowledge and support others who are struggling with chronic conditions. My mission is to help them see the joy, the light, God’s light not just at the end of a tunnel (trial) they might be going through, but INside the tunnel (during the trials that are so long they don’t end this side of heaven).

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One of the Worst Things to Say to a Believer Who is Hurting-Repost

I want to follow up on my two-part series on Polly Positive to bring you this article I wrote many years ago for my Art of Eloquence communication blog. I was talking about how we communicate with those who are struggling with chronic illness actually affects them, even if the person’s intentions are good. While Polly’s intentions are to bring the person back to Jesus, the timing isn’t right and the message that comes across is quite damaging and, in fact, not biblical:

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” -Proverbs 16:24

Sad

I’ve seen it so many times. A sister in the Lord opens up to share a struggle she is going through in the hopes that the fellowship will bring strength to a weary heart. Instead of support, sympathy or understanding, she receives condemnation by well-meaning and faith-filled believers. In place of words of peace and comfort, they rebuke the poor sinner for not having enough faith. They remind her of the mustard seed, how faith can move mountains and how big God is, but what does that do to her suffering? Does it relieve her suffering or does it, in fact, increase it and place the blame squarely on her?

This is actually one of the worst things you can communicate to a believer who is hurting. Why? Because what you’re saying is:

1. Your suffering is your fault

By telling a believer that she doesn’t have enough faith in God, you are telling her that she wouldn’t be suffering if she only had more faith. Since she either doesn’t believe she has little faith or doesn’t see how she can have more, she feels you are telling her that she is ONLY suffering because of her own lack of faith. Essentially, this belittles her suffering. After all, people don’t feel as sorry for those who cause their own suffering as we do for those who are suffering through no fault of their own.

2. You wouldn’t suffer if you only had more faith

After being told she has caused her own suffering through unbelief, the only option given her is more belief. This is sort of like telling someone “Be happy!” Have you ever been upset and been faced with a situation in which you had to go out and put on your happy face? It was difficult, wasn’t it? Magnify that tenfold and think how difficult it would be to put on your happy face after having lost a loved one to cancer or after being faced with financial ruin. Can they do it? I’m sure some could, but what does it require? It usually requires a time of mourning, a time of rebuilding after a period of support and strength that comes from fellowship. Telling someone to have faith after you just told them they didn’t have any, isn’t helpful and it can be a huge detriment to their ability to bounce back after a devastating event.

3. Your suffering is not going to stop until you have more faith

This poor hurting soul who was reaching out for comfort and strength is now frustrated because she is being told that, no matter how the struggle began, it is now her fault, the only cure is more belief and she cannot find an ounce more in her suffering so it’s never going to end. She is now convinced her suffering will go on indefinitely! Struggles are difficult enough when we believe they are somewhat temporary, but when we see no end in sight, struggles take on new depths of sorrow.

We can all build our faith. Even the most faith-filled Christian can become even stronger in the Lord, but this growing in faith usually comes after a period of mourning the loss at the root of the struggle and a period of gathering strength from family, friends and the Lord.

Telling someone their suffering comes from their unbelief is unbiblical. Here are just three examples from scripture:

1. If all suffering comes from not having enough faith, why was Paul suffering?

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” -2 Corinthians 12:7

2. If all suffering can be reversed by having more faith, why wasn’t Paul healed?

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” -2 Corinthians 12:8

3. If Christians are not supposed to discuss their feelings when they are suffering, how can you explain Job?

“Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.” –Job 23:2

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” –Job 42:10

Telling a person who is suffering, especially when the suffering is new, that they simply need more faith is not only unhelpful, but it can frustrate and depress the person even further. This is where more communication skill is needed. Be careful at this vulnerable time in this believer’s life that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Please share your comments, thoughts, and experiences here.  I’d love to hear from you.

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