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  • Writer's pictureMaria Kallenbach

Change or Accept?

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Back in the summer of 2019, I was in a space where things were going very well. My husband and I had just celebrated our 20th anniversary with my very own dream-come-true trip to Italy. We connected in a beautiful way while touring the sites, devouring delicious food and strolling hand in hand down the streets of Rome. We came home to discover that our three beautiful daughters between the ages of 12-14 had gotten along just fine without us and enjoyed the extra time with their grandparents. I soon began listening to podcasts for personal growth and pairing it with Bible study and discussion.

My favorite podcast at that time was one called Excel Still More by Kris Emerson. He had a nice voice and a simple way of putting things that made me feel like I could truly apply myself and begin to excel in matters of faith, family, finances and fitness. Little did I know at the time, the personal growth I experienced that summer as a result of Bible study, prayer and listening to the Christian podcast, was going to help me tremendously. Not only did it develop within me with longing for a deeper, more spiritual life, it would also serve to help me endure the most difficult days ahead.

"My skin is falling off. My skin is FALLING OFF!"

On September 3, I met my friend for some fitness and Bible study at my home. After she left, I decided to soak a few minutes in my hot tub. The instant my foot touched the water, I was scalded and since I was in a forward motion, with nothing to grab onto, I fell all the way in. It was a pain so intense, that I knew in an instant, I may not have the strength to get out and my life may be over. After what felt like the most agonizing series of events, I was able to call 911 for help. One of the phrases I would scream again and again during that call was, "My skin is falling off. My skin is falling off!" One month later, I lay in my bed at home and wondered how I was going to be able to live this life. I didn't want to live THIS life. I wanted my old life back. This life was filled with pain, agony, and anxiety. I lay in my bed completely overwhelmed and praying God would help me.

I was terribly fragile at that time. The skin on my arms and legs tore open underneath my clothing from simply moving my arms and legs underneath the fabric. I was continuously wrapping and changing bloody bandages. My body did not feel like my own. My skin, no longer soft, felt crinkly and like it was still hanging off of my body. Flashbacks of my skin sliding off my arm were frequent and I would just lay in my bed sobbing. My skin was limiting my movement and I felt frozen in my own body. My physical therapist sent home physical therapy worksheets. I hurt so much and looked even worse. In fact, under the advice of a counselor, I forced myself to look at my scarred body for short periods of time each day. My self esteem was non existent. I was literally spending hours on scar massage and physical therapy exercises each day. I spent my free time either crying in bed while trying to sleep away my miserable existence or reading the Bible and crying out to God to help me.

"We have control."

One day, I decided to listen to one of the episodes in the Excel Still More podcast. It was called, "Change or Accept" Episode #52. Podcaster Kris Emerson, said we have two options when we face something that threatens our peace.

1. Do something to make it better.

Change it.

2. Lay it before the Lord and find a way to make peace with it.

Accept it.

We have control. That brought me a small level of comfort. I had experienced having so little control over the last month so I spent quite a bit of time considering these options. I could not change what had happened to me. I kept going over and over it in my head. "If only" this and "If only" that. No matter what ran through my head...the result was always the same. I had become a Burn Survivor. There was no possible way to go back into time and change what had happened. So, that left me with option 2. Accept it. But how? There was some direction given for what to do when you cannot change it.

  1. Pray to God and ask Him to change it.

  2. Pray to God and ask Him to give you peace.

  3. Do something to make the situation better.

  4. Find a way to grow and thrive anyway.

  5. Find ways to help other people.

For once, I felt like I might find purpose. All that I had fought for seemed overwhelming up to this point, but what if I could pray and God decided He would take all of my scars away and give me peace? What if I could actually help make my scars better by scar massage, getting laser treatments, and taking my vitamins? What if I could keep up my physical therapy and get my mobility back? What if I could be a good wife, mother and daughter again? What if I could find ways to cope and help other Burn Survivors like me?

"Ask her. That girls KNOWS about suffering."

So, I prayed. Every day several times a day. I asked God to heal me. I cried out for peace. I studied His word and sought out what others did when they faced adversity. I learned that sometimes He would heal, and sometimes He would say that His grace was sufficient and that His power was made perfect in weakness. I began to see that perhaps my scars would mark me to those who suffered as proof that I had suffered as well. Maybe in seeing them, they may have the courage to say, "Ask her. That girl KNOWS about suffering." During this time I made up my mind that I would do everything I could think of to make my situation better while I waited and to try to learn ways to overcome adversity and suffering.

I massaged my scars, began laser treatments, and took all of my vitamins. I did everything my physical therapists advised me to do and when my insurance ran out, I began taking yoga at the local YMCA to assist me with slow prolonged movement. I began to follow other Burn Survivors on Instagram and encouraged them after they posted something they were proud of. I even opened my own account @burn.survive.thrive to document my progress and to persist in learning to find ways to thrive in my current circumstances. I continued my quest for personal development and listened to positive podcasts to keep my mind focused on the future and studied my Bible.

"Despite the horror of what happened to me and the circumstances I faced, I began to make my situation better and began to find ways to thrive."

Two years later, I'm celebrating my "Burnaversary by spending time alone and thinking about how far I've come. I listened to the podcast "Change or Accept" Episode #52 again. I remembered that day in my bed 2 years ago when I came to the realization that I had some control over my life. Despite the horror of what happened to me and the circumstances I faced, I began to make my situation better. I asked God for help. I asked Him for peace. I figured out ways to make my circumstances better and began to find ways to thrive. The motto for the Excel Still More podcast is "Just Get Better." And I think over the last two years I've done just that.

My special hope on this day is to launch my blog, Survive & Thrive out into the world for anyone who may need to hear some encouragement. We all have so many difficulties in this life, yet to find peace, we must take it upon ourselves to look for it and grasp it. I hope if anyone is reading this and feels like you are at the end of your rope, you will make some time to listen to the podcast I mentioned. Kris does a much better job of explaining things and perhaps you will hear something that helps bring you some bit of comfort. For me, it was discovering that I had control all along.

Stay Prayerful Friends!


1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Bible KJV.

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