Caravan Sonnet: SEEN Gathering

8/14/14

SEEN Gathering


As I write this I am silently shaking my head at the way that the Lord works in our lives. If you had told me several years ago that this would be the direction that the Lord would lead I would have laughed out loud. Sometimes, I still giggle because in my wildest imagination I could never have imagined sharing about a new ministry that I have just started. But today is the day and in many ways it feels like I have been waiting for August 14th for years instead of months. But I am getting ahead of myself... Let me back up and share a little bit about what has been happening:

In 2009 I started to see my health start to disintegrate without any explanation. As time continued and I started to experience strange and worsening symptoms I was finally forced to make a heart breaking decision to leave the job that I loved (a High School Teacher) and move back home with my parents. At first this was to be a temporary decision but as time continued in the fall of 2012 it became quickly obvious that something was not right. After traveling across the country, becoming unable to walk, and seeing more than 273 doctors I was finally correctly diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in March 2013. Three short months later I was also diagnosed with Cancer. 

Those years were extremely difficult and lonely and as I saw everything around me start to shatter, became isolated due to illness and have fought to regain my health I have connected with thousands of others who are also walking the journey of chronic health problems. Like many of those who struggle with chronic health issues, I had many people in my life "leave" as the journey continued much longer than any of us thought. 

Thankfully I have also had several family members and dear friends who have walked this incredibly long journey with me. While there would be too many to list here on this blog, Jen, has courageously LIVED the life of a woman who loves God despite incredibly difficult health circumstances. Jen, who is the modern day inspiration behind SEEN Gathering, has lived the words "you are not alone" to me and many others with chronic health issues. 

In response to all of these circumstances I started to blog more and more about my health and the struggles that I have been facing through my "Notes on the Porch" updates. Last August I wrote a blog post entitled, "those that the American Church has forgotten" that received acknowledgment, gratitude and criticism from thousands across the United States. 

And it was at this time that the Lord started to give me a dream of encouraging the hearts of those who feel forgotten and "hidden" due to Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain. After a ton of "God-things" occurred the original idea was to launch an annual event & conference for those who are struggling with chronic illness (and their families) to encourage and inspire each attendee to give them a sense of community. But as time continued I had a vision that morphed into SEEN Gathering being a place that provided a retreat & conference (in future years) but first would provide encouragement and hope on a more practical level through the website and various avenues. And so SEEN Gathering has been born. 

To be honest this has been a journey in my heart as much as it has been a practical journey of learning how to create a website, figuring out legal logistics, and dreaming big about how to touch those that are hurting. For so long my dream has been to get well to get "back to real life" and "back in the classroom" and a host of other things. But the Lord has been quietly stirring my heart to follow after Him and into a wild and unknown future that He is writing before me. I argued a lot at first. I said often to those who know me well, "I never want to do anything with sick world" - almost to convince myself that God was wrong in His calling. I kicked and screamed in my heart and heard the Lord softly whispering, "follow me". 

And then I surrendered. 

Some have said this idea is crazy and will never work. But the Lord delights in impossibilities. And some said have been less then encouraging but the Lord has led and with that surrender has come a joyful peace that can't be described. And the Lord's peace and guidance and blessing has been beyond abundant. And for all those that may doubt, there are so many that have come along side me to bring this to fruition. No one involved is looking for anything except ways to serve so many that we know are hurting. To live out scripture in its most practical form that we can to those that we encounter. 

Did you know that the NIH (National Institute of Health) states that 7 out of 10 people struggle with a chronic illness everyday? The CDC states that seventy-five percent of our health dollars go to the treatment of chronic illness. These statistics are staggering and mean that there are a whole lot of people that could use Jesus' love day in and day out. Many of these people are hurt and broken. 

So what is SEEN Gathering you may ask? 

SEEN Gathering is a ministry designed to inspire, encourage, and create community among those with Chronic health problems (specifically those that are "chronicittles" {teenagers through 40s}). Through a variety of avenues (including a blog, articles, a church outreach program, the Crate 526 program, a magazine, a retreat, etc.) SEEN Gathering desires to be a place of rest and inspiration for all who gather. At the heart of everything we celebrate the Hope that we have in Jesus despite chronic illness and pain and encourage each person to live fully where you are. While many chronic illnesses and pains are hidden, you are NOT. You are important. Your are loved by God. You have a unique purpose. You are not forgotten. You are not alone.

You are SEEN. 


SEEN Gathering's name and mission comes from Mark 5: 25-34. This beautiful story in scripture illustrates the love and the compassion that Jesus has for everyone struggling with illness and pain. He does SEE the suffering and is close to comfort us in our pain.


Thank you so much to all that have been walking this journey with me and praying for me. Thank you for your excitement about what the Lord is doing. I am so humbly grateful for the support for this ministry. Want to find out more? Click HERE!

With Lots of Love, 

4 comments:

  1. So exciting for this new ministry! I had NO idea how many doctors you had to see friend, oh my!! And, didn't realize your cancer diagnosis was last year! So excited for what the Lord is doing

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    1. THANK YOU so much for your support friend!
      :) Rebecca

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  2. I am so excited for this ministry you are starting my friend! I can't even imagine being in your situation but I hope you know that your dedication and pursuit of the Lord through this time is so encouraging and inspiring to me!

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet words Madison and your support!! Thank you for all of your prayers! You are such a blessing!
      :) Rebecca

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