9: From Bucket List to Last Dance

From Bucket List to Last DanceAs we sat around Ken and Patti’s table to hear their story, we were reminded of how even though we know and believe that God is good, life is full of unpredictability. Each life is full of circumstances and experiences that are combined with a unique purpose, personality and DNA. Nothing can be taken for granted except that God is good and he holds each life in his hands.

With that as the backdrop, we’re honored and privileged to share Ken and Patti’s story. It beautifully reflects many complicated facets of human life.

Like many couples, they had been looking forward to an empty nest and time to do some of the things they had on their “bucket list.” That all changed when Ken was diagnosed with ALS.

There’s no pretty bow to wrap around this story. It’s full of God’s grace, but begs for his mercy at the same time. We got a strong sense to wrap this story with a request for prayer. Pray for Ken, Patti and their family, but also for others you may know who are in the midst of chronic illness. Not just the “I don’t really know what to say, so I’ll tell you I’ll pray” kind of offer, but the “I will get on my knees before the Father on your behalf” kind of prayer. And when appropriate, the kind of prayer that gathers around someone, lays hands on them and brings them before the throne of grace.

Isolation and feeling forgotten while life goes on for others is one of the hardest parts of suffering. It’s understandable to be unsure of how to respond to someone’s illness. It can feel scary. It might test your faith or lead you to come face-to-face with what C.S. Lewis refers to as “The Problem of Pain.”

Ken has provided a unique perspective on how to help people in health crisis. Pray about them and see where God leads you with people who are suffering.

  • Be authentic. Ask questions. Be real. You’re not going to remind them they have an illness. Chances are it’s pretty prominent for them already.
  • Don’t avoid the sick person or their family. Understand that your avoidance deepens the pain for people who are already feeling isolated. It’s difficult, but go ahead and share that you don’t know what to say or do.
  • Pray for the person and their family. Really pray. Check in and send notes and emails reminding them that you are thinking of them.
  • If the person has a Caring Bridge site, a blog or Facebook page, follow their story and jump in to encourage as you can.
  • Ask for specific ways you can lend a helping hand, even in small ways. You might be surprised at how much this can lighten a person’s load. So much of their energy goes into survival that many of the daily tasks of life can’t be prioritized.
  • Finally, let them share their story. You don’t have solve anything or interject a lot. Be a good listener.

Ken will also tell you that his health crisis has opened the door for the Holy Spirit to work in his life in ways that would never have been possible before. That’s not to say he’d have chosen this path, but he also sees it as a form of blessing not to be wasted. Most of us know that death is imminent, but we go about daily life without thinking about it. Ken has the unique gift and challenge to see life through a more urgent filter.

Pray for Ken & Patti
Caring Bridge: kenbrown63

Resources to Help Process Pain:

  • “Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering,” by Tim Keller
  • “The Problem of Pain,” by C.S. Lewis
  • We just discovered this beautiful, interactive rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave.” There’s sobering, but hope-filled beauty even in its theme of death.

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Bumper Music: Sons of Avi