Joy in Deep Suffering: Meet Our Featured Reader
Walking through a life of constant physical pain is a journey like I never imagined I would be called to walk. I long for my home in heaven. I long for the new body that I will be clothed in there—a body without pain, without scars, without inability.
What Jesus did for us that very first Easter is the reason that new bodies can be hoped for. As we reflect on the Resurrection this week—I couldn’t think of a more fitting person to introduce you to than my beautiful friend, Alex.
Alex, like me, longs for heaven and for her promised new body. Married with two gorgeous small children, Alex lives in constant (sometimes excruciating) pain. She has experienced devastating losses in her life, and she suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Through all of her pain, though, Alex counts suffering as joy because of the hope she knows she has in Christ.
Join me for a cup of coffee with this inspirational soul.
She’ll move your heart.
Featured Reader: Alex
Tell us a little about yourself!
I'm Alex, wife to my first love, who I met in AP Music Theory (nerd alert) my junior year of high school. I'm also the mother to two little preschool-aged miracles, and they are the answer to so.many.prayers after infertility, loss, and a high-risk pregnancy that doctors couldn't save, but God—in His mercy—did.
Our family was recently uprooted from Northern Virginia, and we now weather the long winter in upstate New York.
Walk us through a typical day in your life.
My day usually consists of making an endless array of snacks for my children and trying to resist the urge to let my them watch Octonauts all day. I also try to sneak in some writing for my blog Twice Mended and publications like Thryve Magazine.
My day usually consists of making an endless array of snacks for my children and trying to resist the urge to let my them watch Octonauts all day.
In their newest issue, I share about chronic illness, the God who SEES us and the BEAUTY that comes from brokenness.
The magazine is available FREE for a limited time at Thryve Magazine and my story is on page 57.
How did Jesus first get your attention?
My parents taught me the gospel. They took me to church and Vacation Bible School and Pioneer Club. They played G.T. and the Halo Express scripture songs in the car. I feel like I've always known and felt the presence of Jesus, for as long as I can remember, and that's a gift that's hard for me to grasp.
What has God been pressing on your heart lately?
John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life and have it to the fullest.”
Despite knowing Christ for my entire life, I've spent a lot of time believing lies. Lies like I need to work harder to earn God's love. Lies like people only love me when I perform well. Lies like my house has to be perfect, and my children need to be perfect, and I need to be perfect.
Jesus came for me to have life – the abundant life – which means experiencing His grace and living in the freedom He purchased for me. I want to live with the full assurance that I am deeply loved and fully pleasing to God, not because of anything I do, but all because of what Jesus did for me.
What's your strongest character trait?
Only because of Jesus, I'm compassionate. To listen to others share their stories, their pain – and then to bring that to the Father – that is one of my deepest joys.
I love how Paul calls God “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5. He writes that God comforts us so that we can comfort others, “for just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds.”
How about your favorite food?
A tie between my grandmother's vegetable beef soup & donuts from this little shop – Britt's Donuts – on the Boardwalk in Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Do you have any pet peeves?
I'm a tiny bit of a planner, so I would say my pet peeves usually revolve around my ability to plan and then stick to that plan. So it's hard when I don't hear back from people or when there are last minute changes.
But God is doing a good work in my heart on my idol of planning, which you can read about here.
And...a most-embarrassing moment?
I embarrass myself pretty frequently. I forget things, run into things, and am particularly bad at parking. Almost every time I park my van, I have to back up and pull in again to straighten it out.
But recently – and this one takes the cake – I came in a full measure early leading a worship song at my church. Like, I started singing, realized I came in at the wrong time, had to stop singing, and then start the song all over again. All while standing in front of the church. All while our head pastor, who normally preaches from a different location and only visits our campus a few times a year, was standing behind me. No hiding. I was leading, and I messed up.
But you know what? There was so much grace. Grace from our worship pastor. Grace from our lead pastor. Grace from GOD. A mistake like that one would have crushed me years ago. I would have spent the next hours and days and weeks re-living it, buried in shame. But God has done such a work in my heart and that situation served as a fresh reminder of how much grace I've been given and how much grace I need.
What brought you to To Choose Joy?
Just knowing Becky. She radiates the love of Jesus and she understands pain.
Ok--you have three free hours to do absolutely anything. What will we find you doing?
Spending time outside with my family, maybe going for a hike in a park or swimming in the ocean, and then enjoying a meal around our table at home, cooking with a glass of wine as someone else magically puts my children to sleep
Take us back to your childhood. What is your favorite memory?
For my 18th birthday, I opened the garage and was completely surprised by my father giving me a new, white, VW Golf—a car of my own. It was this unexpected, lavish gift that I didn't deserve. Something he gave me while he continued to drive his own run-down truck. I think it was a taste of how much God loves me.
What book (besides the Bible) has really impacted your life?
66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb. In the book, Larry Crabb has a chapter on each book of the Bible, and he writes in the form of an intimate conversation with God. He asks honest questions about suffering, and listens to how God shares again and again how He will make all things new. I go back to that book often.
What study topics are you passionate about?
I'd love for Christ to topple more modern-day idols in my life. I remember doing Kelly Minter's study, “No Other Gods” probably about 7 years ago, and it transformed my thinking.
I also love this quote from Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Mission, “If you lose your life for my sake, you will find it. You have to give up: comfort, security, control, and success. But you will find adventure, faith, miracles, and a deeper knowledge of Jesus.”
I know this to be true, and I want to desire Jesus more than comfort or success or even healing. I want to serve him only, and I would love to see a study on that.
Where do you need to be reminded most of the Truth in your life?
The last few years have brought a handful of trials – an unexpected move, a high-risk pregnancy, the loss of my ability to have more children, and a chronic illness with daily pain and difficult side-effects from my medications.
But I need to learn to preach back truth to myself when I'm tempted to despair. God is sovereign and He is doing a good work in me – even in my pain. He will carry this good work onto completion (Philippians 1:6) and I can look forward with confidence to a day when there will be no more tears and no more pain.
Follow our dear Alex and her sister, Abigail, as they share inspiration, hope, and healing for the journey through their ministry:
Twice Mended | stories of healing & hope
What inspires you most about Alex's story?
We'd love to hear it in the comments below!