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 July - August 2004
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COVER STORY: Casey Martin was thrilled to play professional golf, but he never thought he'd be thrown into the spotlight because of his disability. . .
When Your Pain is Not Being Treated
WARNING: Beware of Bible Cures!
God is in the Details
Sun, Sun, Find the Shade
Why Can't I Make People Understand? Book Excerpt
When God Hollers, "No!"
Talk Over Tea with the Editor
Tell Us Your Thoughts
Strive to Thrive Health News
Joy Bites
Strength in the Shadows
Volunteer Corner
Book Review: What Would Jesus Eat?
Ask the Doc
HopeNotes: hopekeepers
Group & Leader
Information
Refreshments


 

 

 

This 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.

The members 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.

Anita lives 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.

Peggy helped 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 her.

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 or disabilities.

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 of all.

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.

Please pray 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.

What about 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 wjk38@hiwaay.net or 256-885-1720.




This article was featured in our July/August 2004 issue.
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