162: Erica Baldwin | Invisible Illness Warrior

Erica Baldwin | Invisible Illness Warrior

Erica Baldwin | Invisible Illness Warrior

Erica Baldwin was diagnosed with an incurable genetic condition (Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) at the age of
33.

Erica writes to encourage women to cling to God’s goodness as they face life’s most difficult trials.

Her fragile body and uncertain future have led her to place firm hope in God’s character, not in her circumstances.

She’s written a seven-night devotional, Rest in Jesus, for those – like her – who struggle with anxious, sleepless nights.

Her writing has been featured in Joyful Life and Be Still magazines, and she serves as contributor on the Hope in Grief website.

Erica lives in North Carolina with her ever-detailed husband and ten-year-old miracle son. She treasures every “normal” day as a gift, especially days that begin with coffee and end with the family cuddling on the couch. While she hates heights, Erica loves fall weather, salty snacks, cheesy Hallmark movies and listening to others’ stories of resilience.

Erica Baldwin and Amber discuss living with an invisible illness, God’s sustaining grace, and suffering well.

Questions about Invisible Illness (Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) Erica and Amber Discuss:

  1. (3:23) February is Rare Disease Month, which is near to your heart, because it is personal.  Will you take us back and share the event that happened when you were 20 years old that launched you into discovering the rare/invisible disease you live with daily?
  2. (7:59) It wasn’t until age 33 that you were diagnosed with Vascular Ehler’s-Danlos Syndrome. What was life like from age 20-33 in regards to your health and what was your relationship with Jesus like during that time?
  3. (11:33) It was during childbirth that you came close to losing your life. Will you share a bit about your experience, recovery and how you clung to the Lord during that time?
  4. (18:51) VEDs is not only rare, but it is an invisible illness.  What would you like people to know about living with an invisible illness?
  5. (21:09) Talk about suffering well, and surrendering to Christ while living life with a rare, invisible illness.
  6. (26:39) What are some of ways you’ve experienced purpose as a result of your suffering?
  7. (31:02) Have you had any big events since your son has been born?
  8. (32:51) How has the grace of God been enough for you?

Quotes to Remember from Invisible Illness Warrior:

“They could not figure out why this healthy 20 year old was suddenly so sick.”

“I saw him [son] and kissed his little head. Then they ushered my husband out and said, we have to do more surgery. My uterus had ruptured.”

“As I was going to sleep, I heard them say, ‘They tried so hard to have this baby. It’d be a shame to lose her.’ “

“My husband went to bed that night….and didn’t know if he was going to wake up a single dad.”

“We had no idea while I was pregnant that a war was going on in my body.”

“Finally, a geneticist came in… and looked at me, looked at my history and said she has a connective tissue disorder. They sent off bloodwork…and it came back positive for vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.”

“For people with vEDS, it means the building blocks of our body are missing a protein in our collagen. The framework of my house is basically Silly Putty…Surgeons have said it’s like sewing together wet Kleenex or wet paper bags.”

“Because it’s invisible [vEDS], sometimes I carry a little bit of shame for things I can’t do.”

“[Living with] an invisible illness has made me more compassionate towards other people, because I don’t know what they’re carrying….When Jesus looked at the crowds, He was moved with compassion. He saw all of the invisible things they were carrying and…He was moved with compassion.”

“When I was 20, I was so angry, and bitter….I wanted the suffering to be over. I didn’t want to accept help from anybody….When I was 33, I realized God was still with me. I was a full time patient again. I also was a mom. I was a wife. I realized God wasn’t punishing me or abandoning me….We have a suffering Savior who knows our grief. He knows our bodily weaknesses, and pain.”

“We weren’t excelling in spiritual disciplines, but God was not keeping a checklist. Our guttural prayers and our weary praise were offerings during that season.”

“I want people to know, when you have seasons of doubt and fear it doesn’t have to derail your faith, it can strengthen it.”

“His sustaining grace is holding me together, literally and figuratively.”

Scripture References

  • Col. 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:

We had no idea while I was pregnant that a war was going on in my body.
We weren't excelling in spiritual disciplines, but God was not keeping a checklist. Our guttural prayers and our weary praise were offerings during that season.
His sustaining grace is holding me together, literally and figuratively.

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