Living Love

000_0176We would love to live on a couple of acres and be largely self-sufficient. Maybe that will happen. For now, my heart is for concentrations of people in cities. I actually get excited to meet new people; especially non-Christians. When I am in my element relative strangers say that my smile is infectious. I have been told that I bring out the best in people: ‘Like brings out like.’ I relate well with people in physical, mental or spiritual pain.

I am quiet, serious, peaceful, longsuffering and transparent. I have a history with physical pain and mood disorder. Unfortunately, but as is common, my pain and mood disorder were more evident at home than out of the home. I had congenital lumbar stenosis since I was 16 through to 54. The stenosis was originally at L2-3, L4-5, L4-5. I played football, ran, chopped wood, grubbed trees, stump picked, cut down 45feet trees next to our house, and much more with high levels of pain. I should add that I was not an obvious happy chappy after doing those things. However, during the moment I was in my element.

After contracting a virus I developed Chronic Fatigue. 20 yrs ago that fatigue morphed into a very rare disease called Dercum’s Disease, recognised by those who work with the Disease/Syndrome as the 2nd most painful Disease for which person’s who have it rarely receive recognition that they have a rare disease let alone appropriate treatment. It is not possible to dream up such symptoms and decide to present with them to a doctor. It is simply not possible.

People in chronic pain often become stoical. The stronger the pain the harder they go. Yes, it is counter to intuition. They need to be told to stop and rest. Love themselves. Be kind to themselves. That is easier said than done, especially when there is no clear cause and effect. That is often the case with pain. When in pain, my typical behaviour is to reach out and support others in pain. This is a behaviour I have had to moderate severely.

It takes a special kind of woman to live with me. Christine is that woman. It is not that I am such a horrible person. However, I acknowledge that Christine is special. She copes with me. She puts the best construction on me. She works like a trojan. She is an everyday hero in the true sense of the word.

I am a family man. I enjoy helping in the home and have done my best to be involved in our children’s lives. We have wonderful children. Each of them has very special attributes. We are bound together in love as a family. We are not chaotically enmeshed. Nor are we disengaged from each other. We enjoy each other’s personalities and love family time. We have experienced the extreme violence of mental illness. That is a topic bigger than I can do justice to herein. Mental illness is a fight for life and sanity. Part of our story is told on  Severe mental illness, like domestic violence, can produce tension similar to jungle warfare. That association has led me to an interest in PTSD along with mental health in general.

Life is lived in the trenches more than on mountain tops. We go up the mountains to celebrate. We then carry that celebration down into the trenches. I am not saying that life is more suffering than not. I am saying that suffering is the workshop in which the depths of character is moulded. This is one of the few times I use the word ‘should:’ we should never be resigned to suffering. Acceptance is a far cry from resignation. Acceptance is an open door: I have it, I fight it, I pray for healing. I do all that I can to recover my health. I choose health over illness. Prayerfully, I will not lose a minute of peace or hope and give into despair.

My life is not on pause. This website, is my opportunity for reflection. It is a place within a place that I can go to recreate. This is my space to reflect and share my story in a way that enables me to walk along side others. I will not use my website to withdraw from life, but to engage and resolve it.

My heart is to help people experience fulfilment in God. I hope to help as many people as possible fulfil their God-given purpose. For me that means I use my gifts in their service. One part of that is helping people find their way around the Bible. I have a gift to impart a thirst to get to know the Bible better. I would do this through my teaching, preaching, pastoral care and the relationships I form. Most of this is put on hold while I tackle my health issues. I enjoy helping people discover how much they already know about the Bible; then I help them unpack that knowledge so they can find their way through the books of the Bible. As a result they are able to recall what they already know and remember what I teach them about books of the Bible. I also enjoy helping people to relate Biblical truths and passages to their own lives.

12 thoughts on “Living Love

  1. Michael, I have just now looked at the 60 Minutes utube videos from 2010 about Amy. Thank you all for sharing. I am thrilled to have been guided to this website, this is certainly providential for me and my family and absolutely awesome to know. God is great and He does answer prayer and works miracles every moment. This is truly a God-incident for me. I look forward to meeting you and Christine and family some day. We have a small bible men’s group on Fridays here or at another house, and I attend KYB at Nimbin weekly. Live on 21 acres and you and family are welcome to visit us at Shiloh Park.

  2. Hi Michael,
    I came across your family’s story on a support group that I am in on Facebook. I have suffered from anorexia since I was 15 years old. I just turned 31 and I am finally breaking free from the chains of this illness. It’s a very slow process. I’ve suffered from addiction in my past, I have 10 years clean and sober. Trying to overcome my eating disorder makes overcoming feel like a walk in the park. I also suffer from PTSD and depression. Everything is one day at a time. Sometimes, it’s one minute at a time. I’m 3 months away from graduating the nursing program at college and finally being an RN. I’m so excited, eating disorders have a way of killing your dreams because you don’t have the energy required to follow them. Try to encourage Amy to remember it’s progress not perfection. Remind her that when she looks in the mirror to feel her body (which if she is or was anything like me is rare, because the mirror was not my friend). Feel that the illness is a liar, a manipulator, it plays on our fears. If we can physically feel our body, feel our bones at the surface of our skin, eventually we can see and feel that we aren’t flesh, fat or normal. We are too thin. We need help. My illness knew me inside and out because I created it. Everyone’s anorexia will act a little different because we are all unique. One thing that all diseases have in common…they live off of fear. If we conquer our fears….we silence our disease.

    • Hello Jessica, thank you for your encouragement. It would be great to hear back from you which support group you are in on fb. I have had a couple of mystery persons from Amy’s past contact me to enquire of her. They had a vagueness more toward snooping than encouragement like your message. So thank you for your greater transparency. We have a silent hope for Amy that the devil cannot quench, for we drench ourselves in our Lord’s Perfect Love, and ‘Perfect Love casts out all ….’ Thank you.

  3. Hi Michael,
    No need to thank me, although you are very welcome. The Facebook support group that I am in is closed to the public, you have to send a request to be added. It’s called Anorexia, Bulimia and ednos Recovery Support Group. Like any recovery group you take in what you need and leave the rest. I also found that because of where I live there isn’t much in the way of eating disorder meetings. So I started one from my home. I love all the people I work with through the trials of this disease. We work an amazing 12 step program on EDs. I go to local schools and try to talk to teenagers about the dangers of eating disorders, and that beauty isn’t a number on a scale. I use my life’s pain to try to reach others. I don’t like reliving my past, but my past lead me to where I am today…fighting a disease that lives in my mind but is written all over my body. If sharing my pain can save just one person, it was worth it. If my pain can make just one fellow sufferer think, “if she can find courage to fight maybe I can too” then it was worth it. Most people in the world are fighting silent battles that the rest of the world knows nothing about. The problem that people like myself and Amy face is that what we are fighting the world can see. They can see our bodies, we can’t hide them. They don’t see that their curiosity or snooping, granted often masked as caring is often harmful and hurtful. You mentioned in an earlier reply to someone else that Amy had put herself in isolation. Isolation became a big part of my story. I don’t know why Amy put herself there, I don’t need to know. It’s none of my business. Or anyone else’s. It’s her story to tell when it’s her time to share it. While I’m not comfortable going into detail on a public site where we have inquiring minds…I will share a little. A few things that brought me into isolation were feeling the eyes on me in public, I would get anxiety attacks leaving home, I couldn’t not compare myself to other people and I knew I was too broken and weak to put on a fake smile in the outside world. All I knew at that time was crying, I honestly believed that some people are too broken to be fixed. Today I believe that no matter how broken you are, you can be saved, and the scars that remain from your broken pieces are Gods way of reminding you that you fought with the devil and won.

  4. Jessica, I sink with where you are coming from. You are real and safe to me. One day, if you keep watch on these pages, I may be able to update you, and connect you with Amy. Like you, I belong to closed groups and below are 2 of our public stories. These are my friends. I have not put mine out there-yet? There is a ratio of around 20 women to 1 man suffering from Dercum’s Disease. Your illness, like major depression and mine are battle zones. We fight and take down unseen forces. They waste their energy on us, no matter how we think of sickness, disease, depression and their causes. I do not presume that little gremlins are in control of our lives. I do presume that God is in control, and whatever maladjusted energy is soaked up in a godly life is another person spared suffering. Mine may be a distorted view of life in which victimization is glorified, but that depends on how it is spoken of and acted out. Like you I have the end game in view in my life and Amy’s. So does my wife.

    I have not spent much time developing this site, but I can see how it reaches out beyond our four walls, and prayerfully it will, one life at a time.–rare-disease/31370293/

    Essentially, this is a beginning for me. I have updated my existing sermons. I intend to look over my other material, then add more. I will pray that God leads me…

    As you can see, I do get other notifications that someone has sent me a message. I did delete the other comments at last, and Amy has thanked me for filtering anything that may be confusing. While I will not tell her about your contact at the moment, it is helpful for her, and I can see that day coming.

    Thank you Jessica.

  5. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll keep this brief as I’m studying for exams & I don’t have much spare time. As part of my degree in psychology we are learning about eating disorders and watched your story from 2010. I was particularly concerned for Amy’s ongoing welfare & I took to the internet in the hope to read of any improvement from her illness.

    I don’t know much about it but I do have a strong interest in the field of Health & as part of many sites I read I just came across this & I wanted to share it with you. Forgive me if this is delivered in an obtuse manner, I am rather ‘gung ho’ in my approaches and I am definitely not a trained professional. I am still a student, however if you have not already come across this information I hope it may be of some use. Kind regards, Sally

  6. Hello Micheal, I don’t know if this will ever be read but I’ll write anyway. It started with me watching the 60min australia programme you and your family featured in. I have now found out you are a Christian (as am I). I was brought up in a christian family, but I find there are SO few believers out there. I haven’t had it easy in life (at all), and I sometimes feel God is ignoring me and didn’t help when I needed it and when I asked for it. How could he allow me to get hurt and suffer like that if he loved me? (and when I have always done my best to be obediant and live my life for him)
    Actually, I guess I need to find spritiual guidance nearer home and you would be far too busy to help at all. So all I will say now is I wish you and your family all the best and I am thinking of you!!! Helen from Reading, England.
    (and I sincerely hope that Amy is recovering and doing well. I understand her battles and suffering)

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