KALEIDOSCOPE OF ILLNESS BRINGS FOCUS
Chronic illness entered my life slowly. Each new illness – one more geometric shape twisted into the kaleidoscope lens of my life and was hardly noticed. It all seemed almost “normal” somehow.
As a child, three colored shapes represented fear, anxiety, and strange bouts of “flu”. After I married, “female issues” twisted into view, including the 1 in 500 chances of happening, serious complications after the delivery of my middle child. Then my youngest repeatedly insisted that she wanted to born much too early. At 35 weeks she entered the world and life in the NICU. Migraines suddenly burst into color as I embarked on my life as “super-mom.” Each child added pops of color to our collective kaleidoscope and unusual diagnoses began demanding more immediate attention. Over time, our remarkable pediatrician noticed a pattern that could not be ignored. Chronic illness had spun into view.
Just before the pediatrician referred us to a specialist, I grew gravely ill during routine treatment for a sinus infection. Following this violent explosion of color, the kaleidoscope again twisted and slowly focused revealing an underlying rare genetic illness.
Looking back, I understand that what once felt almost familiar and “normal” was anything but. Recently, one of my specialists very gently reminded me, “Pamela, there is no cure.”
While it is sometimes hard to hear as we continue to band aid my most problematic symptoms, truth is the necessary foundation for hope. Dr. Michelle Bengston says, “God will use even the difficult situations in life, those that don’t go how we expect or hope, for our good.”
KALEIDOSCOPE OF ILLNESS HIGHLIGHTS ONE PRECIOUS LIFE AT A TIME
While I wouldn’t have chosen to walk through illness and suffering, I’m grateful for the gifts. For illness has softened me, grown my compassion, gentleness and kindness, and it’s led me where I never dreamed I’d go – into full-time ministry.
In 2016 Cindee Snider Re, my best friend and now ministry partner, and I founded Chronic Joy, a 501(c) 3 non-profit, a global resource ministry, whose faith-based mission is to bring radical hope and compassionate change to all those affected by chronic physical and mental illness. We have the privilege of inviting people to thrive in a life with chronic illness.
When I look at the dynamic patterns in the kaleidoscope lens in reverse, my attention is drawn back to each individual pop of color in the design. In the lens of ministry, the dynamic and ever-changing patterns represent the diverse and immense world-wide impact of chronic illness, a kaleidoscope of illness. But when I look at the patterns in reverse, as the pattern shifts, I see each individual shape twisting into place – each a single, precious life affected by chronic illness.
KALEIDOCOPE OF ILLNESS AND GOD-DESIGNED COMMUNITY
Sowing seeds of hope, purpose, worth and joy is a foundational principle of Chronic Joy, because we understand firsthand how lonely and isolating it is live with chronic illness. And we understand the devastation of continued and sustained loss, of what we now call “chronic sorrow.”
We weren’t designed to live life in isolation, but thriving together in community. That’s why our hearts are compelled to equip all those affected by chronic illness with tools, resources, and community rooted in Jesus Christ.
Often the first step is to share the stories of our illness, “For story is where hope begins. They connect us, tearing down walls and shattering isolation.” writes Cindee Snider Re
Our FREE printable, Writing the Story of Your Illness, asks helpful questions and guides you in collecting your ideas to tell others about or to begin to write about your journey.
AN INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE AND BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY
We invite you to visit our website today. Discover resources. Share awareness tools. Request a FREE BOOK through our Gift of Hope program. Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness, the first book in our Thrive Study Series, is a practical and tangible way to broaden our vision of community. And take the survey. Prayerfully consider inviting others to take it too, because every voice makes a difference.
Perhaps you are a bit weary. Come. Sit. Rest by our Prayer Pond and toss in your prayer requests and praises. While visiting #PrayItForward by lifting other requests.
Our hope, prayer, and focus is on community through small group formation. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Invite friends, just one or two other people to meet either in person or virtually and share the beginnings of community.
There is hope, Friends, in this kaleidoscope of illness. There is always hope, and it begins one precious life at a time.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
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Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela is the mom of three married children, grandma of three, and wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines, and a host of other chronic conditions. She enjoys hot tea, reading and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.
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