Thursday, July 9, 2015

SEEN GATHERING TEMPORARILY ON HOLD

Dear friends, 

In the recent months it has become obvious that I need to take a break away from SEEN Gathering and its programs to continue to solely focus on my personal health. At this point in time writing the blog has primarily fallen to me (Rebecca) as have some of the other programs and at this stage it is not feasible for me to keep this up while I am in treatment. I want to take a moment to say thank you to the blog writers who contributed in the past and the ladies who have been apart of SEEN Gathering in the past year. Thank you to all of you who have connected with us. We will continue to update our instagram page periodically. If the Lord moves for us to re-open SEEN Gathering in the future we will let you know through here. Thank you again for your understanding during this difficult time. 

Blessings, Rebecca 


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Some Updates

We want to spend a moment to say "thank you" to all of y'all who have been so supportive of SEEN Gathering ministry. It has truly been a blessing to connect with y'all. 

Unfortunately, as so many of you understand this has become a difficult health season for several of our SEEN Gathering team and that has caused a delay and disruption of several things within SEEN Gathering. For the time being we have placed the Crate 526 on hold until August. We appreciate your kind understanding of this decision. It has been OVERWHELMING to connect with thousands of you that have been interested in this program and to send out hundreds of boxes to those who are hurting. We look forward to restarting this program (with some changes) and will be updating you as the weeks continue. 

Another area that has had to change is the frequency to which the blog has been updated. We sincerely apologize for this. We have received numerous emails asking for updated posts and starting in July we will update the blog at least 5 times a month. We will be notifying you on Facebook and on Instagram when these new posts start. 

Thank you so much for your understanding, your prayers, and your compassion during the difficult health seasons that come. We look forward to connecting with you more in the coming months!

SEEN Gathering Team

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Limitations


I (Rebecca) came across this quote the other day by A.W. Tozer. The ironic thing was that I had actually "pinned" this quote on pinterest a while back but this past week the truth of this quote struck me between the eyes and really spoke to my heart. 

I am not sure about y'all but there are so many times where I feel that the Chronic Illness and Pain journey is filled with limitations. Limitations that I long to "throw off" and live life without. Limitations that can bring me to tears. Limitations that halt me so fast in my tracks and cause me to feel like I have hit a brick wall without seeing it coming. Limitations that force me to acknowledge that life, not matter how much I imagine it or long for it to be different, is limited because of Chronic Illness and Pain. 

You might have seen that the many parts of the south, including where I live, came to a complete "stop" this past week. We were literally "trapped" in our neighborhood for over a week and couldn't get out because of the ice and snow on the hills on our roads. While many people were grateful for this "break" from work and school, I grew more and more frustrated as each day passed. Due to extreme pain and sickness I had spent the 8 days prior to this ice storm primarily in bed so I was looking forward to "getting out". I tried to have a good attitude. I tried to remain cheerful. But by day 7 of being trapped in the neighborhood (day 15 of me not leaving the house) I was anything but cheerful and was frustrated and literally broke down crying. I watched with incredible envy many of my neighbors easily walking the hills to get to where they had parked their cars. For them the mile walk was nothing. For me it would have landed me in the hospital. 

In the midst of this going on, I received a text message from my best friend asking if I would be hurt if she invited another one of our friends to come and visit her. OF COURSE I was excited for my two friends to have the opportunity to attend a christian conference and to have the chance to visit, but I was once again stopped short by the limitations that being sick has put on my life. I can't just jump on a plane to visit my friends when I want. I can't hold a job right now due to being sick so I wouldn't even have money to go visit. I broke down in tears and cried myself a good pity party. 

Limitations, whether we like to admit them or not, are an unfortunate and realistic part of Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain. Limitations stop us from doing what we would like to do and living the life that we envision for ourselves. Limitations can be a constant source of frustration and pain if we wallow there. 

On the other hand though our limitations have the opportunity to showcase the amazing NON limitations of the God we worship. I was blown away thinking about this as with the Lord there are NO limitations. He is not bound by these things that limit me. He is boundless. He is limitless. 

As AW Tozer says, "How satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none." Hold fast to this truth today friends. No matter the limitations and the pain that comes from this that we experience, we worship and serve a God who has no limitations. What hope and joy there is to be found there!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

12 Things To Pray For The Parents of a Young Child With a Chronic Health Condition


Happy Thursday y'all! I (Rebecca) wanted to share with y'all a post from my personal blog from several months ago! I don't know about y'all but sometimes I struggle in what to pray for myself in this journey with a Chronic Health Condition! So today I wanted to share 12 ideas to pray for yourself if you are struggling with a Chronic Health Condition. This is not a complete list of what to pray and is not a "formula" but I do hope and pray that it is a good "jumping off point" for you to be praying as you struggle with chronic health condition. 

** I am so grateful for several moms and dads who are in this situation and who graciously shared their hearts, hopes, fears, tears, and love about this subject with me.**

original picture found here & altered by Caravan Sonnet
1. Pray for their Courage. I don’t know anything that takes more courage than fighting a serious illness then being the parents of someone who is seriously ill. It takes a courage under fire that is impossible to explain unless you have walked this difficult road. One person who contributed some of these ideas shared, “I was a soldier in Afghanistan for three tours and led men into battle several times. I received a medal of honor for bravery under fire. Honestly, facing the fact that my baby girl had cystic fibrosis and Leukemia was worse than any battle I encountered in war. This was a different kind of war- a war on the child I loved so much and it was a war that frightened me more than any bullet had before.” - “P” - Pray for their courage and their bravery in this fight. It is a fight like no other.

“Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be discouraged for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.”
-Joshua 1:nine-
  
2.Pray against Fear. Is there anything that causes fear more than entrusting your “baby” to a team of medical doctors? I don’t think so. These parents deal with trusting their most precious thing in their lives to the wisdom of others and still fears abound. Fear for the correct treatment plan, fears over food allergies, fears over a million details that could never all be listed. Pray against fear for these parents. Pray that the Lord would take away all of their fears.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
-Psalm 56:three-

3.  Pray for their Hope. Dealing with the grief of a child who is not well is heart-wrenching. Pray that they will not lose hope for themselves, their child, or their situation. 



"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
-Psalm 27:thirteen-

4. Pray for them at night. Nighttime is difficult for anyone going through a struggle as the mind wanders and can be more restless then ever. For parents of young children this is sometimes the only "break" away that they take and many times this is not a break as they watch their children sleep in a hospital room or in their own room. Many times this is when the most tears are shed so their child does not see. Pray for them at night that they would be comforted and the they would be able to rest.

“I am worn out from groaning Lord. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow.” 
-Psalm 6: six and seven-
  
5. Pray for their Relationships

Pray for those that are single parents. The heartbreak of having a child who is ill doesn't discriminate over whether a person is single or married and the single parent has double the responsibility. Pray for their strength, their hearts, and their wisdom as they have to be “all”- caregiver, provider, parent, friend, “nurse/doctor” for their child. Pray that they will have help from those that love them and that the Lord would provide in miraculous ways. Pray that they will see the truth that while they may “feel alone” scripture promises that the Lord is a husband to those that love Him.

Pray for their marriages. Did you know that having a child seriously ill increases the divorce statistics by 50%? These odds are staggering but completely understandable as the stress, frustration, anger, and fear are often placed on the spouse instead of the sick child. This can cause friction and tension in even the best of marriages. Pray for this relationship and that they would be strengthened together in the Lord.

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
-Ecclesiastes 4:twelve-

6. Pray that they will know that God has not abandoned them. After watching your child ("baby" as many parents refer to them as) dealing with pain or illness day in and day out it can be difficult to remember that God has not abandoned you. Pray that they will see God's mighty love and power despite their circumstances. 



"For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from them, but has listened to their cry for help."
-Psalm 22:twenty-four-

7. Pray for their Strength to meet Each Day. Dealing with a child who is seriously ill each day is beyond exhausting. There are a million details that have to be attended to and emotionally parents have to be “on”. Pray for their strength each day.



"And as your days are, so shall thy strength be."
-Deuteronomy 33:twenty-five-
8. Pray for their broken heart.  We live in a world that allows us to present that everything is perfect, especially through social media venues which is a way that many people keep in touch. Seeing pictures of healthy children doing “normal” child things (starting school, first haircuts, lavish birthday parties, sleepovers, family trips, sports games, etc.) can be heart-wrenching for parents who are watching their children suffer. Pray for these parents hearts that they will be comforted during these times and that they would sense that the Lord is near.

 "Hear my prayer Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping."
- Psalm 39: twelve-

9. Pray for them as Parents. Pray for these parents as parents. Pray that they would have wisdom on how to handle the situations that arise not only in health issues but in molding the character and development of their children as individuals separate from illness. This can be an extremely fine line to balance. As one person who contributed said, “How am I supposed to punish her about disobeying me when she has a chemo treatment the next day and will be extremely sick for the next three weeks?”- “A”  Pray that they will know how to handle these difficult situations with grace and love and have wisdom to navigate these tricky waters. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
-Proverbs 22:six-

10. Pray for them as they deal with other responsibilities. Life revolves around someone who is seriously ill because each day can hold a million different situations that need “immediate” attention. The other reality though is that these parents have lots of other responsibilities on their plates (additional children, work, deadlines, bills, etc.) and life can seem overwhelming. Pray that they will have the strength to deal with each situation and need as it arises and that they will have the focus needed for each situation. Pray for them as they are balancing a hundred different things at once.

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress, May the God of Jacob save you."
-Psalm 20:one-



11. Pray for others to come around them and help them for the duration of this battle.  These parents that are dealing with a young child with a chronic health condition need people to come along side of them, walk the long road with them, and extravagently love them in the midnight hours. They need people that can support them as parents, but also be looking out for their families and their marriages. This could be friends offering to take siblings of the sick child to the park or to a baseball game to give the parents some much needed rest. This could be people bringing food or coming to help with laundry. This could mean a million different things, but pray that they will have support and people that would walk this road with them. Illness is incredibly lonely but these parents need that support at this critical time.




"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

-Proverbs 18: twenty-four-

12. Pray for the return of their joy. Illness can steal so many different things from people including joy. Pray that these parents will find joy in the Lord despite the pain of this time. Pray that they will not be robbed by sorrow only but that the Lord would return their joy and restore the years the locust have stolen.



"I will restore to you the years the locust have stolen..."

-Joel 2:twenty-five-



I hope these ideas have been helpful y'all! If you would like a copy of these twelve things to print out please email us (seengathering@gmail.com) and we will send you a word document! Sometimes when you are praying for someone with a chronic health condition you may feel that you are not "seeing" any results or doing anything, but the truth is you are!! God promises that He hears our prayers and He does hear yours! Keep praying for your friends and loved ones!! You are a blessing!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Online Bible Study!!


Happy Tuesday friends! You may remember that a couple of weeks ago we mentioned that SEEN Gathering would be doing its first Online Bible Study (starting in February)!!!  THURSDAY is the last day to sign up for this round!!

One of the goals of SEEN Gathering is to create and foster community and we are so excited to launch this first Bible Study! We will be going through the book,  "Mosaic Moments- Devotionals for the Chronically Ill" by Lisa Copen. Lisa runs a wonderful ministry called, "Rest Ministries" that reaches out to those who are Chronically Ill and have Chronic Pain. I have been so encouraged by this book and am sure you will be too!! 

To join in on the Bible Study for the months of February and March we have set up a private Facebook Group where we can share our thoughts, what we are learning, and encouragement with each other. This will be a PRIVATE/SECRET SEEN Gathering group and my prayer is that it will encourage and strengthen the hearts of those who are in it. My other prayer is that it will allow for some community to start to develop at a deeper level as we share and pray for one another. In order to help foster and develop this community we will be limiting the group size to 15 members! 

So if you are interested please click HERE request an invite for this first Online Bible Study! (We will be doing online bible studies periodically so if you can't join in this time we look forward to connecting with you more next time!!)

The last day to sign up is Thursday (January 29th) and spaces are first come first serve! We hope to see you there!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Answering the "But You Don't Act Sick" Statements

* This post was originally posted on Rebecca's personal blog, Caravan Sonnet, but received such a wide response we felt it was appropriate for this blog and wanted to share it here. We pray it encourages each of you!*
There have been numerous (and very well-written) articles in Chronic Illness world relating to the often heard (and often emotionally dismissive) "but you don't look sick". I personally have never written a post on it, even though I have oftenthought about it. Most Chronic Illnesses (and even serious illnesses) and Chronic Pain is not outwardly visible so it can often leave the bystander confused that if someone felt "so poorly" they surely would look sick. (Frankly, I have never really understood exactly this sentiment because what does a sick person "look like"? Is there a general stereotype? Is it someone who is rail thin? Well that doesn't always "fit" because many medicines induce weight gain and inflammation. Is it someone who has lost all of their hair? Well that doesn't "fit" because even some seriously ill Cancer patients - where everyone "connects" treatment with loss of hair do not lose their hair. Is someone who is sick "look sick" when they are completely pale? Well that doesn't fit because some medications (and herbal supplements) induce facial redness and flushing.) SO maybe we as a society don't know exactly what someone who is sick looks like. Maybe, if I am so bold there might not be a set standard and we need to embrace those who are struggling without having any preset ideas as to what a person will look like when they are sick... 

or what they will "ACT" like. 

I have heard the "but you don't look sick" (or something along those lines- "well you look absolutely wonderful") statementso many times throughout this journey. Sometimes- it is by well-meaning friends and family members who are trying to boost morale. BLESS them. Other times it is by someone who I truly believe is genuinely trying to be encouraging. Either way, I have heard it said so many times that I have lost count. But recently I heard something I hadn't heard on this journey. I was chatting with someone who I hadn't spoken to in a while (but who follows the blog and my instagram feed) and they said (after I answered how I was doing) "but you don't act sick". 

I was completely caught off guard. I asked them what they meant and as they (somewhat accusingly) stated that "in the past year you have traveled out to California (twice), gone on a cruise, written three books (with one being published in November), worked on graduate work, ran an Etsy shop, started SEEN Gathering, and have agreed to speak at a couple of engagements in the coming year... I mean, Rebecca, your instagram feed doesn't even show someone who is laying in a hospital bed. Most of the time you are SO upbeat on the blog and on social media... you just don't act sick.

I was speechless. Part of me wanted to jump to the defensive and start listing off a rebuttle to everything that they said and the other part of me wanted to hang up the phone. I am embarrassed to say that it was the small 1% of me that wanted to answer with a loving and Christlike attitude. My defensive attitude won for several minutes on the phone as I was speechless and then started to explain that I only traveled to California because my doctors office is located there, that the cruise was a gift... 

and then I stopped. 

I quietly asked if we could continue this conversation at another time and we agreed to come back to it. For several days I grumbled to the Lord about the fact that I felt like I was now not only "not looking sick" but now being accused of not "acting" in a certain way.  And then I started thinking... what does a sick person act like? So I called my friend back and asked her what she meant by her statement. Basically she felt that since my instagram feed shows lots of outside pictures and that it is happy I don't act sick. We talked for a while but as we hung up, my friend admitted that she felt that if I was "truly sick" (her words) then I would be acting more somber and forlorn. 

So for the past few weeks I have really been thinking about this conversation and about the stereotype of how "sick people should act". I started questioning friends and family (and even strangers) and asked what their stereotypes were about "how a sick person should act" and what they thought and questioned beyond the scenes about those that they know who are sick "but don't act sick". These were some AWESOME conversations. Here were the most popular questions with my answers that I gave them: 

Do they spend a lot of time in bed? 
Yes, most of us do. I currently spend approximately 20 hours in bed. The other four are spent taking detox baths, working on the shop in the room next door to my bedroom in my house, doctors appointments, etc. Sometimes (where I get most of my outside pictures from) if I am feeling strong enough I will ride in the car to places although I don't go into stores a lot due to my immune system.

Does a person who is sick cry a lot? 
Oh my yes. I find GREAT comfort in Psalm 126:5 each day. At the same time though I know that if I spent all of my time crying about my situation I wouldn't have any energy to fight my diseases. Some days the tears flow uncontrollably but on those days I curl up with the Psalms and ask my sweet friends for extra prayers.  

Does a person who is sick really laugh? Shouldn't they be more sad?
Y'all I try to find humor in the smallest of things ALL the time and I am not alone in this. AND we do laugh over here A LOT in my house because God is still good with lots of blessings everyday. 

Why doesn't a person who is sick share their problems and health stuff more if they feel so terrible?
I don't know about you but I frankly love to "escape" when I am on social media. I love connecting with others, I love bringing awareness of Lyme Disease and its issues (and the other health things I am dealing with) but most of all I want to bring glory to God in each of my endeavors. To be frank... my symptoms are often debilitating and often times extremely personal. I think that I cover it fine by saying that I deal with a ton of pain, nausea, and fatigue. If you want to find out more I am sure you can hear it from someone but I don't care to share the details of spending 2 hours throwing up. *smiles*

Does a person who is sick act normally and do normal things? 
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. The best example that I can give of this is when I went on the cruise in February last year. I asked my best friend that we not talk about anything health related and that if at all possible I wanted to be known "not as the sick girl". I didn't want us to lie, but if at all possible I wanted a "break away". HONESTLY- it was the best week of the year. Yes, there were times of tears, but it was SUCH A BLESSING and I cried several times realizing that I could still hold conversations that had nothing to do with illness. 

In the last couple of weeks I have realized something deeper in this whole situation. Beyond my defensive stance at the beginning and beyond what I mumbled about, I realized with startling reality that God had also abundantly answered a prayer that I started praying the first year I became housebound and bed bound. It wasn't a prayer that was easy to pray or one that I even knew the difficulty of living what I was praying, but it was the cry of my heart:

"Thank you, Father, for these my friends. Thank you so much for these beautiful people, who are so very dear to me. Let my grief be mine alone. Anoint my countenance with the oil of joy, that none may ever feel embrassed to laugh in my presecence. May no joke or sharing of the ridiculous be stifled because I am there. Wrap me in the garment of praise, that I may not burden others with the heaviness of my grief." 
(Darlene Diebler Rose)

The Lord has been so good in answering this prayer a thousand fold on this journey these past several years. He has anointed me with the oil of joy, that none have felt embarrassed to laugh in my presence and jokes and sharing of the ridiculous has abounded abundantly within my family and friends. There have been times of lots of tears and grief but I seen in so many ways the way that the Lord has wrapped this journey in the garment of praise, day after day, moment after moment on this journey. 

Perhaps it doesn't "look" like I "act" sick, but I can assure you behind the scenes the only reason for that would be God. Him alone. He has been so merciful on this journey and I am so grateful for His love and the way that He has carried me each step of the way. (Psalm 68:19) Perhaps, like so many others, that is the only answer that I can give for the "But you don't ACT sick" statements. Because I know for sure that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted. 

I see it every single day. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Illness Cannot Do...

Happy Thursday friends! I hope that this finds you doing well! Sometimes when you are struggling with a chronic illness and chronic pain it is so hard to see anything but what illness and pain "keep us from" or "keep us from doing". It is so easy to look around and compare our situations to the "pretty social media" lives that we see. *smiles*

Today I wanted to share something for those that are courageously fighting illness and pain! You are not alone! I came across this poem several years ago and it has stuck with me. This poem was based on what Cancer cannot do but if you do not have cancer please feel free to insert your illness or pain into this poem! 
WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO
Cancer is so limited ...
It cannot cripple love. {"For God so loved the world..." -John 3:16}
It cannot shatter hope. {"Hope doesn't dissapoint us..." - Romans 5:5}
It cannot corrode faith. {"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for..." - Hebrews 11:1}
It cannot destroy peace. {"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you..."- John 14:27}
It cannot kill friendship. {"A friend who sticks closer than a brother." - Proverbs 18:24}
It cannot suppress memories. {"We all have happy memories..."- Proverbs 10:7)
It cannot silence courage. {"Be strong and courageous...." - Deuteronomy 31:6}
It cannot invade the soul. {"...cannot kill the soul." - Matthew 10:28}
It cannot steal eternal life. {"...that you have eternal life." - I John 5:13}
It cannot conquer the spirit. {"The Lord is my strength and my song..."- Exodus 15:2}
[A special "thank you" to H.Bob Anastasiadis who posted this poem in the Plattsburgh Press Republican Newspaper(2011) in honor of his wife who bravely fought cancer. {I added Bible verses to each of the points in the poem that I have found to be specifically encouraging in my own health journey.}]

Hold on to hope dear friend and remember all of the things that your illness or struggle cannot do!