CFP: Melissa Jagears' friend, Karen, shares her guest testimony today with us, about coping with severe debilitating migraines.
MJ: Karen Riekeman is a friend of mine who was subjected to me rattling on and on about A Heart Most Certain while I was writing it. During the process, I realized her testimony would work well for one of my secondary characters, Bernadette Wisely. But anyone who knew that we knew each other would likely catch the similarities, so thankfully Bernadette gave me permission to play with her testimony for this book. I figured her story was quite the “Overcoming with God” story, and she was gracious enough to share. Hopefully, someone will be encouraged by the real story behind one of my secondary characters.
I am wife to Budg Riekeman, a mother of three, a legal secretary, a sometimes decorator, and a pastor’s wife who lives in a small town in Kansas.
In a similar way to Bernadette’s character, I struggled with my relationship with the Lord for many years. I lacked a vibrant relationship with Him and was not able to give much of an example to others of what a close relationship with the Lord looked like. Due to my own lack of discipline, parenting three children, the work that goes into ministering in small churches, and relying on my years in the church as a crutch, I managed to go for years with very little one-on-one time with the Lord. I was saved at the age of 16 and knew such a transformation at that time that I knew that I was saved and that I was loved by Him, but I couldn’t seem to buckle down and make myself be disciplined enough to meet with Him each day. I would have moments where I would determine to be more disciplined and a few periods where I did manage to grow in Him for a time but, on the whole, I grew very little over those first 20 years in ministry. Oh, I could fake it really well. I knew the prayers that needed to be prayed in public; I knew the right answers in Sunday School; I knew where the verses were to be found in the Bible; I taught in Sunday School classes; led in Vacation Bible School; organized retreats and women’s ministry events, but they weren’t backed up with any kind of vibrancy in my relationship with Jesus.
We had the privilege of ministering in sweet churches in Texas, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota and now Kansas. The people were wonderful and we felt loved and cherished in each place. I had good friends and cherished memories from each church. My husband was growing by leaps and bounds in his faith and trust in the Lord in each place, and I would look at him with such envy, but it didn’t spur me much to be disciplined myself. It was the same way you look at someone who is in good shape and envy that they can jog without stopping to catch their breath but you don’t have the discipline to get in shape yourself.
In August of my 40th year, I came down with a severe headache that would end up lasting for about 7 months with little to no relief. I had never been diagnosed with migraines before that time, so it came as a surprise to me that the final diagnosis was migraines. However, no medication seemed to help and few things brought any relief during that time. Even when you are in pain, life goes on and the kids were in sports and school events and I still needed to work, so I coped but each day was a struggle. I would go to bed at night grateful that sleep would bring some form of freedom from the pain. However, I would wake up in the early hours of the morning in so much pain that I would crawl out of bed to sit in the recliner in the living room. I sought the Lord in His Word and in prayer for relief from the pain and for hope for my future.
Because of the earliness of the hour and the quiet in our house, I had time for the Lord like never before. I worked through Bible studies and I read through the Psalms over and over as they brought me such comfort. Sometime during those months, I began to fall in love with Jesus. I loved that it was just He and I in the quiet and solitude, and I knew He was there to meet with me. I felt His presence and I knew like never before how loved I was. He met me in His Word and began to give me verses that promised me hope and that He would never leave me. He gave me the courage to face each day and to find my sufficiency in Him alone. It was still hard, I was still in pain, but Jesus became my source of strength. Sometimes the words just seemed to jump off the page at me and I knew they were directly for me.
By March of the next year, the pain began to ease and the worst of the headache ended but by then I was so in love with Jesus I couldn’t stop meeting with Him. My girlfriends really noticed the difference and often commented on how different I was from before. My Sunday school classes were different and Bible studies with groups were more meaningful and I had truth to share like never before.
I still live with the migraines. I wasn’t miraculously healed. It has been over 10 years and I continue to deal with them. Sometimes for weeks at a time but they’ve never gone on for months like before. I’ve learned that Jesus is sufficient for whatever we face; to have compassion on those who are hurting; to be grateful for “good” days; to trust Him on “bad” days; to believe Him and to trust Him whatever the day brings; and that I never want to go back to how I was before.
Similar to Bernadette, ministry is different now because it springs from my relationship with Jesus. I don’t do what I think others want me to do, but instead I do what I believe He is calling me to, using the gifts and the talents He has given me.
CFP: Thank you for sharing with us, Karen! I suffered from a six month migraine following a car wreck. Thank God mine resolved but I do still get them (I never had before.) In my latest novella, my hero suffers from severe migraines, too, which plays into the storyline. I'm looking forward to reading Melissa's latest novel, and bet her story is wonderful. Blessings to both of you!
Giveaway: A copy of Melissa Jagear's A Heart Most Certain and a copy of my newest novella, Tea Shop Folly.
Answer this question (and leave your email address if you aren't a regular here): Have you ever suffered from chronic headaches and how did God help you cope?