Guest Jessica Shonebarger – Day 4 Perspective Changes Everything
So excited to introduce our 3rd and final guest this week! This amazing woman of God has become like a sister to me. I love her and her family dearly and cherish the time we’ve spent in ministry together over the past year and a half. I truly believe God knitted our souls together before we even stepped foot in Florida.
Her story, like Penny and Nancy’s stories, truly captivates me. She has been through quite the roller coaster with her health over the past 2 years. As a woman serving in full time ministry, loving wife and mom – God has shown Jessica some pretty incredible things through all of this.
What are we waiting for? Let’s cut to the chase!
Me: Jess, something happened about 2 years ago that completely stopped you in your tracks, didn’t it?
Jessica: At this point in my life, I was in really good shape. I was 31-years-old, worked out 5 days a week, and eating right.
My husband and I were on a youth trip and out of nowhere I passed out. We thought I just hadn’t eaten enough that day, so we didn’t think much of it. I then started passing out or almost passing out every 2 to 3 days. I went to a couple of different doctors, and all of them said I was fine and nothing was wrong.
My father in law is a hematologist in Tampa, so he sent me to see some other doctors who discovered I was anemic. My blood just kept dropping lower and lower and I was dependent on blood transfusions to live.
I had absolutely no energy. I would go to the grocery store and need a 3 hour nap afterwards. I would wake up every morning and count the hours until my kids’ nap time so I could go to sleep then I would wake up and count the hours until bed time. I literally wanted to sleep all the time.
My father in law, who ended up becoming my doctor, thought I may have leukemia. We were faced with some very real and very scary possibilities of what illness I could have. It was a very long process and a whole lot of ups and downs, but after months of countless tests they discovered I have MDS, which is a form of blood cancer.
Me: It had to have been scary not having a clue what was wrong for such a long period of time. And being told everything was normal when you knew for sure something was going on in your body. What was the first thing you thought of when you heard the variety of diagnoses?
Jessica: When the word Leukemia was being thrown around I really didn’t have a change in my thought process at that point. I was praying it wasn’t Leukemia, however I wasn’t worried or even scared. I knew that the Lord I had served my entire life was with me. The Lord had never let me down and the doubt of Him not healing me never occurred to me. Thankfully we found out it wasn’t Leukemia!
Me: Praise God it wasn’t Leukemia! You were raised in church and have served in ministry for years. Did you question God?
Jessica: My parents are pastors, so I was raised in ministry. I made the mistake of telling the Lord I never wanted to be a pastor’s wife. He obviously has a sense of humor because I married a man and he is now a pastor. I have been in ministry my entire life.
The real test of my faith came in the months ahead of not knowing what was wrong. It seemed like every single thing was worse than the last. I had no doubt the Lord was going to heal me supernaturally. However, with each passing week of blood transfusions and more tests and more questions, it really got to me.
I started to Google things that were possibilities. Bad idea. I got so scared I could hardly breathe. I literally felt His peace leave me in that moment. I was panicked. I wanted to be the one to raise my kids. I wanted to grow old with my husband. I started being eaten alive with “what if’s”.
I went on for a few weeks like this until I just broke down. My husband was at work and my parents came over to my house to pray for me. I was crying in their laps like a child as they held me. They just cried and prayed over me. I wanted to pray I just didn’t have anything left to give. I was empty. They prayed for me for hours and all at once I felt His peace return. I really felt like Jesus put me in a bubble of peace in that moment. I told The Lord I would not google anything else.
I decided I had to be strong, but the problem was that I was still weak. I had to get my strength from the Lord. I accepted that I may see heaven earlier then I was planning on, and I also had this unshakable faith that HE WAS GOING TO HEAL ME. I never doubted that again.
Me: What an emotional roller coaster ride! What kept you going when fear rose up inside of you?
Jessica: Sure, there were times the enemy would come in my head tormenting me with lies, but I would just make myself listen to the voice of TRUTH. This was not an easy thing to do when I was paralyzed with fear. Once I got that peace back, I was not going to let that go again.
The enemy wants us weak in our mind – that is his playground. If we are weak we can not be strong to fight. We have to get our strength from The Lord.
The big thing with not being swallowed whole with fear is that when the lie comes in, take it captive and get it out of your head. Say the truth! The bible says I will live and not die and declare the words of The Lord. I would just repeat truth over and over and over again.
I also have an awesome husband who was there for me every step of the way. I have an awesome church family at Praise Cathedral and they prayed for me when I had no words to pray for myself. I know I am healed today in no small part do to their faith and their prayers for me. They took my sickness as theirs and I cannot tell you how much they ministered to ME during that time.
Me: Such an incredible support system! Not only from your immediate family, but your church family as well. I truly believe that perspective can change everything. What advice would you give others going through a similar situation themselves or with a loved one?
Jessica: I would say don’t get swallowed whole by your circumstances. Jesus is bigger then any problem we face. He never promised it would be easy in this life, He just promised He would be with us.
He did however die for us and by His stripes we are healed already. I believed the Lord would heal me supernaturally with all my heart. He chose to heal me with the help of doctors. He decided to do it differently then what I believed, but He healed me all the same.
I would also say the Lord isn’t put off by your questions. He wants you to lean on Him. It’s ok if we have moments of doubt – that doesn’t make us faithless… It simply lets us know we are in need of our Savior to save us once again.
Allow whatever you are going through to strengthen your faith in Him. He will build you better and stronger every single time….if we let Him use it all to mold us and fine tune us. You never know how He will use what you are going through to help and further the kingdom of God.
As Jessica said, we are not promised an easy life here on this earth. We live in a sin-filled world full of hardships that we can choose to either drown in or overcome.
How do we overcome, you ask? Revelations 12:11 says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony. And these 3 incredible women have done just that. They’re not perfect by any means, but they have shared heir struggles and what The Lord has taught them through their brokenness.
One thing about brokenness is it teaches us to fully rely on God.
I pray you have been blessed and encouraged this week from hearing real stories of real struggles of real women who have been touched by a mighty God!
Please share with someone! And comment below! We would love to hear your stories!
Live Life Unscripted,