Tag Archives: chronic illness

Introducing a New Ministry


Today, I want to introduce you to something close to my heart, something you’ve been reading in bite-sized pieces since 2008, a story simultaneously just beginning and one that’s been decades in the making. A story only God could be writing. Today, I introduce you to my friend, Pamela Piquette, and the brand new ministry we’ve co-founded.

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“But you look fine.”

It’s something we hear often. We do look fine. But we’re not.

We are two of a staggering statistic – two of approximately 162.5 million people in the United States alone who live with one or more chronic illnesses.

Two of half the world’s population living with chronic illness. We are not alone.

Yet, often we are an invisible population striving to live well in the brokenness.

Many of us are desperately hurting, lonely, exhausted, and in pain. We struggle with anxiety and depression, and sometimes with significant limitations.

Illness affects our marriages, our families, finances, friendships, education, hobbies, and work. In short, illness affects every thread and fiber of our lives.

Chronic Joy Ministry is our voice, raising awareness of this hurting population, offering resources, and helping churches and organizations begin the conversation about what a chronic illness ministry in their organizations might look like.

If you have 9 minutes, we have an incredible story for you. Watch video.

Then join the conversation at Chronic Joy Ministry and let us know what you think. We’d love to open the conversation with What if?

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In Search of Him


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Words are where I begin to understand, gain perspective, to process this life we’re living, where I seek the Deep and discover God in the messy midst.

Words are where I feel my heart beat, where I seek hope unfolding like dew-wet wings waiting to fly.

Because we have five precious kids. Four with significant, long-term illnesses.

Four.

Amazing kids navigating the teenage years with diseases few have ever heard of and even fewer understand. These kids live with nausea and migraines and nerve pain, dizziness, light-headedness and fainting. Some struggle to eat, constantly battling weight loss. Some struggle with tremor. One has chronic hives.

We see a team of doctors and administer a pharmacy of medications.

And it’s hard. On them. On my husband. On me.

So I write. To find balance and perspective. To peal back the dark in search of Him.

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Because nothing is simple or straight-forward or easy with chronically ill kids. It’s a puzzle. I’m constantly seeking one more piece, one more pattern, one more cause and effect, watching, waiting, evaluating, processing. Constantly processing.

And I wonder, every time I make a parenting decision is this necessary right now? Does my teen have the emotional bandwidth to process this today? How much are his or her symptoms playing into the words, the actions, the attitude? How important is it really to make this point, hold firm on this issue, or expect this task to be completed on time or even at all, right now right where we are?

So I write. Seeking wisdom. And perspective.

I write to wade through the chaos in search of Truth. Truth that never changes. Regardless of the storm.

Because I want so much for my kids.

I want them to be well, but even more I want them to know God. Not to know about Him, but to know Him. Deeply. Personally. Intimately.

Right here. Right where we are. Right where it’s hardest.

Even if never gets better. Even if healing waits just beyond the veil.

Even then. Especially then. I want them to reach out across the veil and grasp His hand. Know His touch.

Trust Him.

So I write, to find meaning in these young adult lives flipped upside down, inside out, spun a hundred and eighty unexpected degrees.

I write to collect the hope spilling from their eyes, cradling it close to my heart.

I write to find the way, step-by-step through a future shrouded in fog.

I write to go on, rise up, pull the covers off each brand new day and seek the Light. Because it’s there.

Always.

Just beyond the dark. Iridescent wings glistening in the pastel dawn. Awaiting the sun’s gentle rays to rise and fly.

I write to seek Love. In every thought. Every word. Every breath. Made flesh.

For me. For us. Every one of the seven billion souls alive on this planet today.

The Word. His Word. Across the ages. Sewn into every moment. Every heart beat. Every breath.

I write always in search of Him.

*Deeply blessed by the friendship and online communities of Kelli Woodford and Nacole Simmons, and their recent blog series which inspired this post. You can visit them here: Six in the Hickory Sticks and Chronicles of Grace.

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Savor the Hard Stuff


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I woke this morning to a message from a friend, “Savor the hard stuff.

Not words she’d wanted to send. But words God had laid on her heart, clearly, unmistakably. Three times in thirty minutes. And on faith, she sent them to me.

“I LOVE you!” I immediately typed back, because she’d sent exactly the words I’d needed to hear.

Twice in two weeks, the phone had rung in the middle of the night, and I’d risen, pulled on jeans and fleecy socks, zipped my jacket against winter’s chill, and stepped out into the night.

As I slowly backed out of the garage on the first trip, snowflakes glittered in the headlights and crunched beneath the tires, and I thanked God aloud for heated seats.

The roads were empty for miles. Still and beautiful in the fresh falling snow. A world at rest. For I was alone on these usually busy roads, just me and a lone county salter, idle on the overpass, orange lights flashing.

Into the still, Matt Redman’s voice swelled in worship,

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul,
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before,
O my soul,
I’ll worship Your holy name.

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find…”

And I sang along, quietly, for this felt, somehow, like holy ground.

But not trip two. That night, those miles, I felt no peace.

Open your hands, I heard God speak to my heart.

“No, Lord,” I whispered, defenses rising, battle lines drawn.

Open your hands, I heard again, tenderly.

Nineteen years ago, I’d sat in pool of autumn sunlight, rocking this unborn son, and released him back to God. Eyes closed, sun warm, hands open, heart aching, I released my son to his Heavenly Father, thanking Him for every day my son stayed safely tucked inside me, for every beat of his tiny heart, for every lengthening contraction, every moment his stress lessened, for this was my son, and whether or not I ever held him in my arms, he would always be my son. Samuel Christopher. Asked of God. Bearing His image. Gift and priceless treasure.

What if I’m doing this for him?

Really??? How can this be for him? Any of this? I don’t even know how to pray anymore. What to ask. How to help. What to say.

Long-term illness is hard. There are no easy answers. No quick fixes. My son, who’d called in the middle of the night, wants nothing more than to be a “normal college student.”

But he’s been sick for five years. Came down with what we thought was the stomach flu on his brother’s birthday and never got well. And this inability to “leave that part of himself behind” when he moved to college is one more reminder of the constancy of chronic illness.

It goes with him wherever he goes. He can’t just leave it behind.

Open your hands.

Tears spilled as I tried to breathe, evenly, slowly, to still my racing heart as I pulled onto campus, winding along the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan on this velvety cold night lit by an opalescent moon.

I love this campus, Lord. They’re so understanding. And kind. But this? This is hard. I long to wrap my arms around my son and hold him close. Protect him. Do something, anything, to make this better.

Heal him, Lord! Make him well! Oh, Father, please, I know you can!

But what if I’m doing this for him?

I shook my head and wiped my tears, breathing deep, forcing calm.

“I’m here,” I texted, waiting in the quiet. Minutes later my son walked through the door in his leather jacket, backpack slung over his shoulder, hamper of clothes in one arm, box of meds in the other, and slumped into the front seat.

Hey, Honey,” I said, laying my hand his shoulder.

We pulled away in silence, enveloped by the night, as the first notes of Tenth Avenue North’s I’m Worn rose from the radio.

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

This,” he whispered in frustration, gesturing toward the radio, tears spilling from his eyes. And mine.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

(Chorus)
My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

(Chorus)
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

Open your hands, I heard again. Open your hands. And lay your Isaac down.

“Oh…” I swallowed, a sob rising in my throat. “And savor the hard stuff?”

Yes. Savor the hard stuff. Enter the deep. For that is where treasure lies. Where dross is drained away and love roots deep, where self withers and trust grows, and we learn to abide.

Chiseled, sanded, pruned. Grafted to the Vine. Polished and refined.

The hard stuff. Where we learn to open our hands, open our hearts, and lay our Isaacs down.

I don’t know what the future holds. I only know that today we traveled back to campus to begin the medical withdrawal process for our son for this semester of college. Today the tears fell, in every meeting, as we spoke to our son’s friends, as we began to pack up his room, as we drove along the bluff.

And today the words came hard as I opened my hands. Opened my heart.

And laid my Isaac down.

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Filed under Devotionals