month's hk group is a wonderful testimony of how God works all things
together for good, through each person's gifts. hopekeepers leader,
Linda, took great delight in sharing the blessings that her group
has received through friendships, creativity and wisdom. We hope
that this article will bring you encouragement as well as new ideas
for your own hopekeepers group. -ljc
After many prayers
our hopekeepers group began in March 2003, as a result of Debbie's
contact with Associate Pastor Sherill C. at Epworth United Methodist
Church. Debbie suffers horrendous pain as the result of four back
surgeries within two years. Forced to take disability retirement
from her love of teaching children, Debbie was bombarded not only
with pain, but the loss of her mission in life. She expressed disappointment
that in our city there were many support groups, but not a Christian
chronic pain or illness support group. Having a heart for helping
hurting people, Sherill got online and found Rest Ministries. How
very thankful we are for Rest Ministries!
Debbie and I
knew each other through mutual close friends, and I had been in
contact with her concerning my own medical problems and pain. When
I met to pray with Debbie in her "make yourself at home"-home,
beautifully decorated with teapots, the presence of the Holy Spirit
was indeed there! I knew immediately it was the Lord's will for
me to help begin a hopekeepers group in Huntsville.
It is amazing
how the Lord brings different people with so many varied gifts and
talents together to do His work. Debbie is a perfectionist and encourager,
and I'm a fun-loving administrator and encourager. Others who helped
were proficient with printing and computer work. Sherill is our
spiritual leader, helping many in various ways. Debbie assembled
packets with inspiring poems, Rest Ministries devotionals, information
about Rest Ministries, and a list of recommended books.
We began our
hopekeepers with When Chronic Illness Enters Your Life (Rest Ministries'
Bible study) and devotionals on hope, joy, love, and laughter. We
have had several outside speakers, a Christmas party, and we have
some really fun activities "up our sleeves" that we will
share in the future (perhaps a nerd or tacky party, silly-hat night,
and a low-down tea/soup party rather than a high tea.) We have eighteen
on our roll and about ten attending. We regularly pray for our group,
and we reach out with love as much as possible.
of our group are blessings to all of us. When Susan was in charge
of the devotional on laughter, she asked us to close our eyes-no
peeking! When we opened our eyes she was dressed as a clown, and
we sang silly songs and had lots of laughs. When Susan writes our
monthly contact, she encourages us with scripture prayers. Susan
home-schools her children, and she has fibromyalgia and chronic
fatigue. Carol's devotional showed us the many scriptures on joy.
For over twenty years, Carol has suffered with fibromyalgia, long
before there was a name for it.
Carol and Debbie
K. have had several brain surgeries to remove malignant tumors,
and both have lingering side effects. Eight years ago doctors told
Carol Hunt's family that she would live no more than six months.
But Carol's humor shows when she exclaims that the doctors had a
time clock ticking on when she would die, but God had a different
time clock. Her husband left not long after her surgeries and she
is one of our heroes because of how she embraces her faith.
with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. She makes
"Hope bracelets." When Anita did our devotional she talked
about how wonderful heaven will be for us according to Revelation.
She researched the colors of the jewels that will decorate the foundations
of the city walls. When she needs encouragement, she looks at her
"Hope bracelet" and it reminds her that one day she will
have a glorified body free from pain.
bind our group together by organizing a prayer chain; she introduced
us to our ritual of each holding a rope while sitting in a circle.
The rope represents binding together. The word "hope"
in Greek is tiqvah (tik-vaw) which is literally a cord from the
root word qavah (kaw-vaw)-to bind together. Peggy is now very ill
with fibromyalgia but she knows we love, pray, and deeply care for
Karen has only
been to our meetings twice, but she wanted to let us know that the
group and the Rest Ministries materials is a balm for everyone in
hopekeepers. "My approach to managing my fibromyalgia has expanded
to a deeper spiritual pursuit. As a result, my faith is deeper and
yet more visible. I feel uplifted by the support of our group even
though I am only rarely able to attend. Like the ever present love
of God, I know that all of you are there for me and with me; praying
for me as I pray and thank God for you."
One who is a
joy to us all is Clovis. She is a "bright spot" who cracks
us up with her wisdom and spiritual truth; She is one of our loving
prayer warriors whose limitations are a result of childhood polio.
Valerie is a school counselor and has a five-year-old daughter with
Down Syndrome, Darby, who is in remission from leukemia. Valerie
also had hip-replacement surgery. For Valentine's Day, many in our
group mailed Valentines to Darby and others suffering physical illnesses
A huge answer
to our prayers is Lynn. She was "in the pit" she says
in her many poems and writings and she shares how God has pulled
her out. She says hopekeepers is for the pain of the mind, spirit,
and body, but believes the pain of misplacing God is the worst pain
Debbie is our
precious friend and encourager. She is always positive! She says
that through many prayers and careful planning, the hopekeepers
support group began in order to help others and ourselves. She is
so thankful to the Lord for being with us every step of the journey.
The group has bonded so well, and she has no idea what she would
do without the strength and fellowship of others with chronic conditions.
that our Epworth UMC hopekeepers continues to be blessed and is
a blessing to others, as we follow the Lord's will. Thank you, Lisa
Copen, for all your hard work and for the love to us all. You are
in our hearts and our prayers.
the group leader? Linda Kauffman, twice a breast cancer survivor,
is a retired school teacher and lives in Huntsville, AL with her
witty and supportive husband, Bill. They have two sons and daughters-in-law
and four precious grandchildren whom they adore. The doctor has
told her she has neuropathy. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org