Hey all, Just wanted to say a few things before this surgery. This battle with psoriatic arthritis started a little over five years ago, and God has taken me on a journey with it. It started because I got pregnant, and then we think that the arthritis caused the 2 miscarriages I had. I finally had Jesse, and went on some medicine. The arthritis had settled in my right wrist and left elbow, consequently the 2 most important joints to a violinist. Months went by and it was just getting harder and harder to pick Jesse up and play with him. I would cry through concerts because of the pain in my arms. The doctor said he wanted to add another medicine, and I realized that by the time that might start working, I would want to go off of it to have another baby. So along came Rory. Right after she was born, I went on 2 medicines. I was trying different combinations to see if any of them would work. 3 combinations and about 14 months later, we found 2 that worked. During that time the arthritis moved to my knees and it was becoming increasingly difficult to function at home let alone on the road. I didn't really know what to think about it all. I guess in the back of mind for the first few years, I just thought that the first medicine would work and that it would be under control before any significant damage was done. Little did I know, the doctor said this was the worst case he had seen in a long time and that in five short years it would do this much damage. So here I am about to have surgery on both arms, the 1st one in a few short hours.
There's something else you need to know, because of different life experiences, I felt like Satan had taken my voice away. I thought I had nothing worth saying. I have struggled to find my voice for many years, and God has shown me much through Him and my very close friends who love me so much that I'm crying thinking about them as I type this. I almost quit Casting Crowns when I was having such a hard time walking. I didn't tell anyone but had been thinking about it for months. But something happened at a concert that made me change my mind. There was a woman who was raising her children by herself who I had gotten tickets for a couple of concerts over the years. We had something in common, and when a crisis hit her, she emailed me. She doesn't know why she emailed me, a virtual stranger, but I do. I told her to come early to a concert and we would talk. She ended up asking Jesus into her heart and I realized that that might not have happened if I had not been there. She emailed me because we had something in common. She wouldn't have emailed anyone else. That was for me to do. Even though I had a hard time walking, I practically ran and jumped down some stairs to tell the band what had just happened! I decided that day that I wouldn't quit until I just couldn't walk or play anymore.
I say all this to say (Melanie) that arthritis isn't immediately life threatening, it chips away at you, but it does threaten the life of what I do. God gave me the ability to play the violin, and I have worked hard at doing it to the best of my ability to the glory of God. However, me playing the violin isn't why I'm in Casting Crowns, it MUST be to see that I know Him first and then make Him known to people that I come in contact with. Through all of these experiences, God has given me little glimpses of what many people go through, bitterness and anger, devastation at losing a child, debilitating illnesses. He has allowed me to join in the fellowship of suffering with so many people so that I can comfort them with the comfort that He has given me. So the conclusion that I draw from these is that the only hope that we have is found in Christ Jesus and people need, need, need to know that. It says in Proverbs that God has given to each a measure of faith and to me, that means that He has given us exactly the amount of faith that it takes to believe in His word and the many promises He makes to us in that word. And we spend our lives pouring out a little here and a little there, trusting in a job, a spouse, or an ideal that cannot lead us to more life or more happiness. We pour it out everywhere else until we don't have enough to trust God. What I'm saying is, draw back your faith from the things and people around you and pour it out at the feet of God. Believe Him when He says He will work everything for good if you love Him and are called to what He is doing. Believe Him when He says that he has a plan for you, not to harm you but to give you a hope and a future. Trust me when I say that His plan is way cooler than one you could ever think up. If you do follow Him, you will surely see some amazing things. I love you guys, Crowns fans are the best!!!