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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




Strength in the Shadows

There are some things I wish I did not know. Life can be a brutal teacher and some lessons leave a lifetime scar. However wrong it may seem, painful memories are more powerful than pleasant ones and can be brought to mind without warning through completely innocent activities.

Recently, my sister-in-law proudly showed me her beautiful porcelain doll - one of those life-sized babies that are weighted to feel exactly like a newborn. This doll was in pajamas, wrapped in a white blanket with its head turned to the side like a baby peacefully asleep on its tummy. She tenderly placed the baby in my arms expecting to hear delighted praise. As I looked at the doll, a sorrowful memory from my past pierced through my heart with such force that I almost cried out.

I was twenty-four years old when my first child, a daughter, was born. She was beautiful, a source of constant joy. One early Sunday morning, only eight weeks later, we awoke to find her dead in her crib. She had been asleep on her tummy and her head was turned to the side. I remember picking her up, holding her close in my arms and falling to my knees, rocking back and forth, crying and begging God to wake me from this awful dream. My husband forced me to put her back in the crib and called the ambulance as the nightmare continued on in full force. Our baby was lost to us, a victim of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). That was more than twenty years ago; yet, when my sister-in-law placed her porcelain doll in my arms, I felt again my baby daughter - the same weight, the same position, the same absence of life. It was devastating.

I wish I didn't know what it's like to lose a child, to choose a tiny coffin or visit the cemetery, marking the years in terms of loss instead of life. But, I do know - and only God can teach me what to do with that knowledge. I must use it for good or it will destroy me.

Chronic illness is not death, but it is a similar loss of the life one was meant to live. For caregivers, it is a loss of the full life we had hoped to have with our mates before illness robbed us of that hope. As I have cared for my husband through the years, I have learned that our only clear choice is to use personal suffering as a positive spiritual tool. It is for this reason that we are chosen to suffer, so that we may glorify God as we trust Him to help us loosen the chains of illness and use our experiences to bless others. We know some things that we'd rather not know, but such knowledge matures us, makes us wise, turns us toward God and equips us for His service.

Lora Chandler has been in a care giving role since 1982 when her husband began his life-long struggle with pain due to a bone disease. Lora welcomes your comments at lorac@yucca.net.

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