The holidays are just around the corner, and God has been tugging on my heart, inviting me to invite each one of us to become a generous giver – filled up, spilling over, poured out, leaning longer, deeper, and ever more into Jesus.
Many of you know that four of our five adult kids and I have significant, life-altering chronic illness. Our 23-year old son has been fully medically disabled for several years. Withdrawing him from college was one of the most unexpectedly heartbreaking experiences of my life. I cried (actually, I sobbed uncontrollably) through every meeting that day. We had worked with Sam’s medical team for nearly five years to get him strong enough to go to college, but by October of his first semester his health had plummeted to the point that he had to come home. A little over two years later, we filed for permanent medical disability and in less than three weeks, Sam was approved. No questions. No denial. No appeals. Based on his application, Sam was “fast-tracked,” both a blessing and a stark reminder of just how sick Sam is.
But how does my son’s health, specifically, and chronic illness in general impact my personal decision to become a generous giver?
Because it affects every decision of every day – every activity, every meal, every choice, every weekly schedule for the past decade. Then three years ago, chronic illness grew from the marrow of our family’s lives into a growing ministry and mission. For 1008 days, I have chosen to personally invest my time, energy, skills, abilities, words, photography, possessions, prayer, and my husband’s hard earned money into the life-giving ministry of Chronic Joy.
Why Do I Give?
Why? Admittedly, I do it for me and for my kids. But I also do it globally, for every precious one of us affected by chronic physical and mental illness, because it is not an easy journey. Many on this road are lonely, isolated and in desperate need of hope and community. As the Body of Christ, we can do better and Chronic Joy Ministry is a hope-filled, purpose-filled, worth-revealing, joy-inspiring step in the right direction.
My dear friend, Pamela Piquette (president and co-founder of Chronic Joy) and I linked hearts, hands, and lives on January 1, 2016, when we stepped out in faith and offered our little loaves and fish to lean into God’s plan for Chronic Joy. As we look back across the past three years, we’re amazed at what God has done. In less than 36 months, we’ve published four books, launched a beautiful website, curated hundreds of resources, spoken at churches and retreats, been interviewed by a national magazine, our local TBN, the Consileum podcast, and Our American Radio Network.
We have a nine member Board of Directors and not a single paid staff person. Pamela and I don’t take a salary, and we use our personal MacBooks, wi-fi, software, printers, cameras, and cell phones to facilitate the day-to-day business of running a ministry. Little by little, we’ve each carved out “office space” in our respective homes, and have personally purchased or repurposed desks, chairs, bookshelves, dividers and closet space. Our oldest sons have generously given of their time and considerable talents in photography, graphic design, programming, system maintenance, and security.
Why do we generously give and serve with Chronic Joy, because God called and we simply couldn’t say no, though at the time, we had not idea what that would mean.
More than Half the World’s Population
As we rounded the bend into year two, together with our husbands, we gave monthly to support the mission of Chronic Joy.
Why? Because the work we do is desperately needed. More than half of people – 60% – love with one or more chronic illnesses. 1 in 5 have mental illness. 1 in 7 parent a child with chronic illness, 4 in 10 spend 24 hours/week caring for someone with chronic illness, and 36% provide care for a parent over age 50. Chronic physical and mental illness affects more than half the world’s population.
Let those six words sink in for a minute. God has called Chronic Joy to minister globally, something both incredibly humbling and absolutely amazing to us. Who are we that God should choose us?
Pamela and I are two middle-aged women, who are wives, mothers, Pamela is a grandmother, sisters, daughters, aunts, neighbors, friends, and unpaid co-workers, who live with significant, life-altering chronic illness and staggering medical bills. Our husbands work hard to support us, and in my family, my husband works to support our medically dependent children too.
Yet in spite of burgeoning medical bills, we are called to be generous givers.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
In 2 Corinthians 9:7, the apostle Paul, speaking to the believers in Corinth said, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Pamela and I and our husbands give because this work matters. Chronic Joy swings wide the door, offering a warm and honest welcome to an often marginalized, weary, and over-looked community. We understand the grief and loss associated with chronic illness, and we long to extend an invitation to radical hope and compassionate change, where people always come first.
Every day, we pour out. Because it matters. Every life affected by chronic physical and/or mental illness matters. Every single precious, treasured one.
Matthew 6:21 reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We are the treasures of God, created by His hand, breathed into life, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, and delighted over with singing, image bearers of the King. And all are invited.
And sometimes, through that invitation, precious lives are changed, not by us, but by God through us, and sometimes we’re blessed to hear how:
“I just found this [Facebook] page tonight and it is a gift from God. How wonderful to connect with others through Jesus Christ and to be able to see and care about the invisible illness that others must carry.” Lynn G.
God is inviting each of us into community and He is inviting us to give – freely, abundantly, joyfully and generously of our time, talents, gifts, abilities, prayer, possessions, and money, for in giving we discover the blessing.
Together, we are always better.
“Together” has become one of Pamela’s favorite words. “Together” we are community. “Together” we are the Body of Christ on earth.
“Chronic Joy,” wrote Shelly E, “is an oasis of hope.”
Dear Friends, the doors are open, the table is set, and you are cordially invited. Will you join us?
Investing in Chronic Joy is a heart-call to fill up and pour out – to give generously – with open hands and open hearts, to lean a little deeper, a little further, and a little more into Jesus, the most generous giver of all time.
Jesus left the unfathomable riches of Heaven to be clothed in flesh, born into a fallen world, raised by a young and inexperienced mother and her faithful husband.
Then He did the unimaginable.
Jesus took on the sins of the world. Can you imagine the horror – the guilt, the shame of all the sin in the world? Can you imagine the sacrifice – an excruciating death on the cross, a three-day descent into Hell, complete separation from His Father?
Unmatchable, immeasurable, outrageous giving!
Lavish, Extravagant Giving
Jesus gave it all. That’s why it matters. And that’s why we’re asking you to link arms and hands and hearts with Chronic Joy.
2 Corinthians 8:2 says, “… they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.“
John Wesley famously said it like this:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
God is inviting each of us to be generous givers.
Can you give:
- $10/month – the cost of one trip through the drive-through?
- $25/month – the cost of one dinner out?
- $50/month – the cost of dinner out and a movie?
- $100/month – the cost of breakfast and 18-holes of golf
- $150/month – the cost of one night in a hotel?
“Alone we can do so little,” wrote Helen Keller, “together we can do so much.”
Will you join us?
Cindee Snider Re
Author and Co-Founder at Chronic Joy Ministry, Inc.
Cindee is a wife of 28 years to the man she loves most in this world, mama of five world-shaking creatives (18-27), author of Discovering Hope, Finding Purpose, Embracing Worth and I Take You in Sickness and in Health, photographer, craver of quiet, lover of cotton, denim, Jesus and tea, and co-founder of Chronic Joy®. Cindee and four of her five kids have Ehlers-Danlos, dysautonomia, intractable migraine, and myriad co-existing conditions, through which they're learning the deeper the valley, the greater their capacity for joy.