In this season of giving thanks, may you be more aware than ever of God’s love for you and His amazing grace that is offered to you. Truly, “His love endures forever.”
Leah and I have so much to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving. Our girls continue to amaze us and bless us. Maria is a terrific student at Arkansas Tech University. She just received news she can graduate a semester early. She invited me to the homecoming game for ATU last month. Rebekah drove me to the campus and Maria escorted me in as I limped up the ramp into the seating area. Even though they lost, it was a lot of fun. Maria continues to encourage our church family, teaching an upcoming Thanksgiving devotional and directing the Christmas play, both with her sister.
Victoria is just weeks away from finishing her student teaching. She will be working at her alma mater, Russellville High School, in an adjunct position in the spring semester. After that, the sky is the limit! Her boyfriend, Noah, just landed a great job. She is super involved during this season of school plays and Christmas concerts, and is loving every minute of it. She surprised me by coming to our church on my birthday.
Rebekah is weeks away from finishing her internship and her Master of Social Work degree. They will really miss her at the senior adult center where she has worked for the past year. And she is just a few months away from marrying Tim and moving to New Jersey, where they being an exciting life and ministry together. It looks like they have found a place to rent! Please pray for her healing, as she continues to struggle with immune system issues that are yet to be accurately diagnosed.
Leah and I will celebrate 33 years together in a few days. How blessed I am to have someone who radiates Jesus and encourages me with her love and wisdom. Her health issues don’t get any better, but she continues to trust our Savior in a way that inspires me and glorifies our Lord. Please pray for her complete healing. We were lamenting today that her health problems and the medications she takes have robbed her of her beautiful singing voice. Please pray that she will be able to sing again!
Many of you have asked for more information about my own health needs. I am diagnosed with severe axonopathic polyneuropathy. My feet have no feeling left, and my ankles and lower legs are severely numb. My ability to drive is extremely limited and I walk like I am inebriated. My hands have constant pins and needles pain and numbness which impact my fine motor skills. Writing and computer work are difficult. The symptoms continue to progress. My wonderful team of doctors are unable to find a cause and are trying to set up an appointment with a very busy neuromuscular specialist at the medical school in Little Rock. I have been on medical leave from work since July 1st. That leave ended today. Many of you know our financial difficulties over the years and realize that we do not have resources to fall back on. I am working with a great lawyer to try to get disability, but the process seems to take forever. (Leah does not qualify, as she does not have enough work credits.) We survive simply because of the extreme generosity of our dear friends and family. We are so thankful for you! We continue to pray for our daily bread and depend upon the One who provides. We never know how the bills this month will be paid, but He remains faithful!
I hesitate to write this, but if you feel led to give, the girls set up a Go Fund Me set up to help pay some medical and everyday living bills. Thank you to everyone who has already given! I am blown away by the love and support we have received.
Leah and I were discussing the topic of thanksgiving lately. She has lost so much because of her health trials over the years, but she remains so thankful to our Savior! I more recently lost my mobility, my ministry, my profession, and now my ability to work and provide for my family. I can easily begin a big pity party, but because of her example and the encouragement of Scripture, my loss is now turning into praise. I am incredibly thankful for the little things I experience each day. I can’t drive, but when I can walk into the backyard or across the street to go to the mailbox, I am grateful! I can’t work, but when I can do a load of laundry my heart is filled with praise! I can’t pastor, but when when my daughters drive me to our wonderful little church and I can expound on the good news of the gospel, I cannot help but get alone with my Lord and give Him glory! I am so thankful for each moment’s breath, for all the wonderful people I come in contact with each day, and for the presence of my Heavenly Father who never leaves me nor forsakes me!
Some wonder why our family struggles so. Weary friends question why the bad news never seems to go away. Many ponder what secret sin we are harboring that has brought God’s punishment into our lives. Others have thought out loud how weak our faith must be for our lives to be as they are. Maybe my faith is weak, but while I may not be able to rejoice in the greatness of my faith, I do marvel at the greatness of the One who is the object of my faith. Our family does face constant trouble, but remember the words of Jesus: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). You have trouble, too! It may look different than ours, but you have it. And when you are overwhelmed by it all, please remember the last part of the verse – we can take heart, because He has overcome the world!
Brian Heinen, 802 East 23rd Street, Russellville, Arkansas, 72802
Follow my journey on Facebook and Twitter.