Ten years ago I saw many people here at Rest Ministries who were on a great walk with God. They even had some idea how God may be able to use their illness for His glory. But there was a little problem. . . A lot of people still felt incredibly bitter, angry even, that no one understood what they were experiencing on a daily basis. And, oh my! The frustration they had about having an invisible illness really rocked their world. It seeped into all those relationships, including the one with Christ Himself.
So, I started talking about invisible illness a bit more. Asking questions. Why did so many of us have a desire to be determined to make people understand? And was it even possible? Honestly, the answer is no, it isn’t possible to make people understand. (I took on the challenge of explaining this in my book, Why Can’t I Make People Understand ?)
And so I began Invisible Illness Awareness Week.
And we here at Rest Ministries invited everyone online to join us! There are millions of people who live with invisible illnesses and yet they don’t always head over to a Christian ministry site to figure out how to live with it.
So I thought, “Why not?” I thought it would give us a forum to discuss how having an invisible illness impacts our lives. How to better cope with those comments that, even when there are parts of our disease that are visible, people still say, “Well, you look fine.”
I remember in about 2006 or so starting a MySpace page and sharing about Invisible Illness Awareness Week. In one week, 8,000 people went from this “secular MySpace site” on invisible illness too RestMinistries.com . Well, that got my attention!
Some of you may remember how we had our first virtual conference via a chat room (way before it was “cool” to do so.) Years passed and we moved it over to BlogTalkRadio. This year we are having videos of our seminar speakers so you can see the people behind the voices. (*We will also have audio files to listen to, and later a DVD of the seminars, so if you have problems on your computer with videos, don’t worry.)
And yes, it is an outreach to those who live with any invisible illness. We are in the mission field here, folks. Scripture tells us “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) I have also seen how the needs are multiple, but the ones that point them toward God for hope and strength are very few!
Here at Rest Ministries, even when times are tough, when we start to feel buried in the valley darkness, we still put our faith and hope on the fact that God loves us and still has a “Plan A” for our life. He is not settling for us to have a so-so, “Plan B” life. So we share that hope with others who may not have heard about Jesus. For those of us who know Jesus, but we are still struggling with why He is allowing us to suffer, well, we hope our speakers can provide you with some new tools as well as inspiration.
In the next few days I will email out some information on Invisible Illness Awareness Week. Our “sister-site” for the entire event is http://invisibleillnessweek.com . If you go there and sign up to get the emails when something new posts at the blog, you will be “in the know” for everything, or at least be able to find it over there.
But here are some quick facts:
Invisible Illness Awareness Week is September 10-16. 2012
The virtual conference is September 10-14, 2012 but will be recorded so you can listen anytime.
Our theme is “Invisible Illness? Show Us Your Visible Hope!” (You can upload photo of “hope” here and guess what? Some of them will soon be chosen to be on CNN.com – yep, you heard that right, CNN.com – God is good!)
Seminar topics: everything from working at home to parenting, dealing with destructive relationships to communicating in a marriage, being a teen with illness, communicating with your doctors, and much more. You are sure to find some that will interest you!
We have Facebook pages, bloggers, and all kinds of ways to get involved that don’t require a whole lot of effort (but it does help us tremendously!) I will let you know more about that later, but you can head on over to http://invisibleillnessweek.com if you want to know now. (And if you aren’t on Facebook or “can’t deal”–as my son would say, it’s not a requirement!)
As always, I appreciate your prayers. My left shoulder has been stuck in place for several days– part of both shoulder have their rotator cuffs missing (tendons, bone, etc.). All I did was open a door! So far, the computer it running okay, but that is always one of satan’s ways of getting me sidetracked and in tears at 2 AM. I am doing all of this while going to PTA meetings, at my son’s karate class, sitting in the doctor’s waiting rooms, and just juggling a lot.
On top of that, there are a lot of attacks from actual people who are not happy that there is a Christian organization behind this week. As you may have noticed. . . being a Christian is not all that “cool” right now.
There are many people who want us to mold Invisible Illness Awareness Week and change it to fit their lifestyles. They have the freedom to go start their own awareness event, but they prefer to just attack us and try to intimidate us publicly (via twitter, Facebook, etc.). Pray God softens their hearts and sees their motives–and protects my own heart from the vicious words.
I know you get it. That’s why your prayers are so precious to me.